In this blog post I wanted to share what it’s really like being the President of a Society at university as it’s coming up to AGM time when committees are elected for the next academic year. Obviously I only have my experiences to comment on so it could be different depending on the society!
Firstly, I recommend going for President in a society if you’re really into what the society does and stands for and wouldn’t mind at least giving it a go. No matter which society it is, if you feel like it’s ‘your society’ (as in, the people are your kind of people, the ‘topic’ is something you really identify with etc.) then you’re already halfway there to becoming President. The hardest part is that first step in putting yourself forward for it.
When you attend an AGM, they can vary from being very informal to quite formal. In my experience in the History Society, they’re relatively informal as it’s usually just a group of friends voting for who they would like to see in various roles next year. Make sure you have an idea of what you might say if you’re asked to make a speech, although don’t worry about it too much as if you don’t get one role you can always go for another!
Now onto what your role actually means. Being President of a society means you have to convene meetings and basically be an overseer for everything the society gets involved in. This doesn’t mean you have to be working on everything, however, as the rest of your committee are there for you to give tasks to in order to be more efficient as a society. For example, you should let your treasurer be in charge of anything to do with money and the secretary to be in charge of emails etc. As well as this, you always have your Vice President to take over from you or be right by your side if anything ever seems a bit overwhelming!
As President you’ll also have to attend Societies Council Meetings with the VPSA where various things happen such as: votes on whether new societies can be made; announcements to do with societies and DUSA are conveyed to everyone; any changes to the way things are run are told to you etc. However you don’t go to these alone: you usually bring a couple of committee members along with you to make sure you don’t miss anything and can work together in conveying the information to the rest of the committee in your next meeting.
There is a lot of work to do behind the scenes as President, but again this can depend on how proactive your committee is as well as how active a society you are President of. In the History Society, we have numerous events of different categories throughout the academic year, so keeping on top of all these can be quite overwhelming. But by giving out jobs to my committee members, it makes my job so much easier. For example, right now my main tasks are keeping in touch with the History staff to see if there is anything we can do to help them as well as keeping on top of our Ball ticket sales and ensuring we sell enough to pay various people. This is much easier than doing every single little job I’ve given out to committee members.
As you can hopefully see, being President of a society is hard work but it’s so worth it, not just for the fact that you can write it on your CV but for how it develops you as a person and gives you the confidence to go on to do other things you might never have dreamed of doing. I hope if you’re interested in going for any role on any society’s committee you go for it if you see their AGM coming up soon!