Christianah Babajide - Why I became interested in student enterprise
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The short answer is because I realised it could get me a job!
Student societies and clubs are an essential part of university student experience. Course-related societies (eg, student law societies) contribute significantly to student engagement and participation. The aim of academic societies is to develop and drive skill sets that will help students long after they have graduated.
But why is student-led enterprise so important?
Student societies play a big role in enabling career transitions. Societies provide students with the opportunity to take on positions of responsibility from which they develop transferable skills and attributes. These attributes include (but are not limited to) leadership, efficiency, time management, organisational skills, effective communication, learning and active citizenship. Extra-curricular activities are placed at the heart of the student learning experience and employers prefer well-rounded individuals who have a mixture of academics and extra-curricular activities on their CVs. Taking part in extra-curricular activities fosters key attributes such as identity, student knowledge and confidence.
The student law society is a productive working environment with a diverse group of people, with similar academic interests who liaise with law firms and hold social events to give students a break from the never-ending reading list. Being an active member can boost your CV in that it demonstrates your capability to commit to a wide variety of things, whereas an applicant with no societies or non-academic activities must look a bit narrow in terms of their focus.
Extra-curricular activities offer an opportunity for candidates to showcase and demonstrate their skills – something that can set them apart from the other candidates and may be the deciding factor on who gets a training contract and who doesn’t.
Many university law societies elect their new team in March so to aid students I have come up with four things to consider when deciding on a position:
It is important to know where your skill sets lie. If you find that you can communicate effectively and have a friendly and approachable personality, then communications officer/publicity officer may be the role for you. However, if you find you possess good leadership skills then why not apply for the role of president? Only run for a position that you know compliments your skill set. For example, I applied for communications because I am good on social media and have been told that I am bubbly and warm, so I thought this role would suit me well.
Before applying for a position consider the level of commitment involved. Helping to run a society is like a full-time job sometimes – don’t apply if you’re not fully ready to commit yourself. That being said, there’s no denying that certain positions within a law society demand more of your time than others. Most law students usually run for the role of president in their last year, while others go for the less demanding roles such as secretary in their penultimate year. This is because the second year is the hardest and toughest, and the third year of the LLB is more relaxed in comparison.
‘Why are you applying for a role within the law society?’ Ultimately the reason behind your application should be to enhance student life, cultivate personal development and improve your employment prospects. Having clear goals and reasons behind getting involved with a society will prove helpful when you’re going through trying times. Remember, you’ve got this!
And finally, if you’re unsure of which role to apply for, speak to the former executive committee; nobody knows the role better than they do! You might find by speaking to others you realise the role that best compliments your personality and skill set. If you have decided on a position and are struggling, then don’t be shy to ask them for advice as they might have dealt with a similar issue in the past.
Christianah is a second-year law student at City, University of London and is the publicity officer of her university's law society.