Posted on Thu 21 Dec 2017 at 15:07 by Adam Tomes
Why I ran for an Officer position during my postgraduate degree and why I think you should too
Some of you may already familiar with my story. I came back to do my masters a year after completing my undergrad at Birmingham – no less excited, no less nervous and not knowing any more people than I did when I started my BA four years before. So when I got zero communication about Welcome Week activities, what was on offer for me as a new postgrad or even an email to say what date my course was due to start, I felt completely lost and understandably a bit annoyed!
I remembered having this amazing welcome experience as an undergrad so why (at the same institution) was I treated any differently as a postgrad? Did the University and the Guild not value me?
I had never been involved in the Guild before but, through a friend, I came across a vacancy for a voluntary part time position of Postgraduate Students’ Officer. It was a by-election that was reopened because apparently no one wanted to do it.
I went for it not really knowing what to expect but now two years later I find myself in the best job in the world; representing Birmingham postgrads full time! It has honestly been the most challenging but amazing experience and if I could run for another year I would!
Having a postgrad in the Officer Team has changed the culture of the Guild being a place just for undergrads. The organisation is beginning to understand the needs of different kinds of students and change the language, kinds of events and how we operate to reflect the diversity of our cohort.
I’m incredibly happy that in the recent Officer review that the decision was made to keep the Postgraduate Officer. However, if the culture is really to change; we need to get postgraduates in other positions in the Officer Team.
Imagine having a Welfare and Community Officer who understands the pressures of PhD study and the strain it can put on one’s mental health, or an Activities and Employability Officer who understands the constraints of being a Masters student who is only here for a year and so can’t get as involved in society committees.
Postgrads can run for any position they would like to and, as they make up 50% of the student body here, they should take up at least half of the Officer Team.
So you know my story – what’s yours?
Is there something you want to change about the experience here at Birmingham? Or just fancy the opportunity to make things better and represent your fellow students? For more info and to nominate yourself (or a friend!) see the Guild’s elections page and feel free to email me or message me on Facebook with any questions you may have – good luck!