The University of Warwick is known for it’s 260+ societies. You can find anything and everything to do, from advancing your career to getting your Bhangra on, from running conferences to running. They do great things for your social life, and are a fabulous addition to your CV.
“Fabulous addition to your CV” is the real selling point. It’s the reason why society elections are heavily contested, and involve rigging, last-minute SU membership purchases and vodka-laced celebrations or tear-infused journeys home on the U1.
When did it get so political? When did it get so corporate? Joining a club should be in the spirit of the club, and not only for the networking opportunities or the connections you gain for a job in the City. That being said, if you join Warwick Finance Societies, that’s essentially what you’re going for. As I will explain in a couple hundred words time, regardless of what you decide to do, make sure you enjoy it.
Of course, it’s hard to differentiate between people who love a society and people who do it for the CV. Such things break exec teams apart, create unnecessary childish behaviour in the form of long message battles, passive-aggressive Facebook status wars and in general make a mess of things.
Every society at Warwick has a story of exec members not doing work, “buying” your friend’s memberships and votes, SU scandals when a night out goes wrong, you get the point. All so that you get into a position of power, and possibly go on to be nominated in The Tab’s BNOC list.
What happened to doing things for the hell of it? University is a time to grow, but I refuse to believe that we have to grow up this fast and play the dirty politics game that has wrecked countries and real-world societies, not just Warwick ones. There are times where the SU is so bureaucratic that it almost feels as if we’re dealing with a national body.
Societies only foster the sense of companionship, teamwork and fun if their exec casts aside the goals of achieving personal popularity and power. There are times where I regret being part of student initiatives because of the kind of mindset that people have towards achieving a certain goal.
In some cases, it’s too corporate. I don’t want to feel like I’m already in the job sector. I came to university to have fun and be part of great causes. I came to learn how to dance. I came to try (and fail at) new sports and I came to make friends and challenge my belief system (I also came to do a degree). I did not pay exorbitant fees to deal with power-hungry, corporate minded students who could be enjoying their youth. I did not come to university to become a mediator in petty squabbles over society exec positions.
The mindset towards societies at Warwick needs to change. We’re STUDENTS for God’s sake. We’ve been infected with the worldwide career disease, and it won’t be cured anytime soon. Sadly, a lot of us do join societies for the career prospects and “fabulous additions to our CVs”.
Which is perfectly understandable. However, if you don’t appreciate a student society’s cause and don’t get stuck in once you become exec, you’re bound to not enjoy it, and bring the society down with you.
Before you decide to run a club or initiative, think about two things. One, the career prospects. I’m not arguing entirely against the “fabulous additions”, because running societies does provide you with a skill-set and experiences to draw from in future. Two, to what extent will you ENJOY YOURSELF. Some societies will take up a lot of time, and possibly bite a chunk out of your degree. I’m assuming that someone who decides to run for a position knows this already. The question is, is it worth your time? Do you love it enough to see the projects through and create a great experience for members and the team?
I don’t want to be hypocritical here. I have joined societies for the career prospects alone, and it hasn’t worked out well. Moreover, when I do decide to join a student initiative, I’m fully aware of what it could do to boost my CV, but by no means is it my only motivation for joining a team. For example, I want to run for a position on the finance editorial team of the university’s newspaper. I’m fully aware that it could help me launch a career in financial journalism, but if I didn’t enjoy working for the paper in the past, I wouldn’t consider applying.
To conclude, if you remember that you’re a student and not an MD at a bank, things should work out fairly well.