On Friday 13th September 2013 (ominous I know) I delivered two workshops on social media and marketing (with a dash of politics thrown in) to some of the staff and sabbs at Cardiff University Students’ Union. I felt very fortunate to be invited along to deliver this on two counts. First it provided me with an opportunity to teach some of the things I have learnt about social, technology and marketing from the likes of Paul Adams, Ajaz Ahmed, Alexis Ohanian, Steve Jobs and Simon Sinek (among many others) as well as from my own personal experience in my career, my own thoughts and of course the techniques I learnt on the Google Squared course I attended earlier this year. On the second it allowed me to revisit an environment that kick started my career.
After I finished University I was lucky enough to spend two years as a Sabbatical Officer at Christ Church Students’ Union with my role being Vice President (Media and Services). I had always loved being involved with the union. From my first week of University I had jumped at the different opportunities that were on offer from being part of the Ents Crew helping organise the union events, to writing for the newspaper and having a show on the radio station. It was a lot of fun and if you are able to sensibly balance being part of the union team and your studies (he says looking back at perhaps where he did not…yep talking in third person…) I would recommend it to anyone heading off to Uni.
My time as a sabb gave me so much invaluable experience. It was at times immensely difficult, trying and stressful, I’d be lying if I said otherwise, but I did have an amazing time and look back on it with fond memories. Being placed at top of an organisation where you are responsible for so much is daunting but extremely exciting. You get to do and see so much, meet so many different and interesting people and gain skills and experience that you perhaps would not have done until later into your career.
Since then I have taken what I learnt as a sabb, namely the encouragement to question everything and learn as much as possible, and carved out my career which has taken me on all kinds of adventures so far. I cannot really express how much of a great jumping off platform that time was.
Now it is September 2013 and Freshers Weeks are kicking off across the country, which means that there is another group of excited young people about to begin their Sabb careers. It’s going to be an amazing experience and one that I hope each individual takes full advantage of.
Here is my two cents based on my experience:
- Focus on the important and don’t get bogged down with the small issues
- Remember the students. Sounds odd but you’ll be surprised how easy it is to lock yourself away working on something you deem important
- The staff are there to help, work with them not against
- As one of the best SU Presidents once told me during a difficult time “It’s just a Students’ Union”. Now that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work hard but it does mean keep everything in perspective. Don’t sacrifice your well being
- Take risks, seriously go for it. Fail fast, learn quick and evolve
- Be open and honest, don’t hide anything and try to deal with stuff alone. You are stronger as a team
- And finally have fun
University and Students’ Union life is pretty great and I wish everyone about to start the very best of luck. Enjoy, stay safe and be awesome.