Thursday, 16 January 2014

So you want to be the RUSU Education Officer?

February is fast approaching, which can only mean one thing in RUSU language: Election time and guess what... I think you should consider running for one of the best placement roles/graduate jobs that you could ever have.

There are so many layers to being a sabbatical officer, but my gosh if I had a penny for every time I was accused of running because I wanted to ‘live as a student for an extra year’ I wouldn't need my salary! However, this is most definitely not the case. The truth is, this job is not what I expected. It’s so much more...  From day one you are at the helm of a multi-million pound turnover charity which, along with the other sabbatical officers, you direct.

But why become an Education Officer in particular? Easy – because it’s the one commonality that all students at the University of Reading share. It’s why every single person has embarked on their journey in Reading, and makes working for students feel all the more worthwhile.

From the minute you step into office, you have to open your mind up from your course and take into account the needs of all students which vary wildly. Some students spend their days locked away in a lab, whilst others have next-to-no contact hours. The needs of every student are different and it’s the job of an Education Officer to look at what the student body needs as a whole, as well as those in individual faculties.
As an Education Officer, you will need to balance the demands of University Committee meetings, with the student facing role. Admittedly, sometimes this is a challenge – but your time commitments even out; one week you could be in and out of meetings, influencing some of the biggest educational decisions made by key players in the University, and the next week you could be helping a fellow Student Officer run a full-scale campaign. This is something I love about the role as Education Officer – my activities differ day-by-day, and no two days are ever the same.

Looking back on the time I have spent as a Student Officer, I am in awe at the support and training I have
received not only from RUSU, but from the NUS as well. It felt quite daunting coming into office on my first day. Yet, I was comforted by the fact NUS place you into a network of other Student Officers from all over the country which you can easily communicate with if you want to compare stats, figures, or even just how to deal with particular issues. The best thing is that you’re never on your own; there is always someone there to help.

This job has allowed me to represent thousands of students, and make a real change when it comes to their educational experience. But on a more personal level, this job has given me so much more. It has taught me valuable skills that would be impossible to get elsewhere in just one year. The opportunities that have been afforded to me as a result of this job are also incomprehensible – I've been able to apply for national funding schemes for RUSU, as well as apply for jobs at the end of it that I couldn't have even comprehended applying for before. Not only that, it has allowed me to make valuable connections across not only Reading, but the country. Such skills and connections I will most definitely be using in the future.

It is an absolute pleasure being an activist for student’s rights. I urge every single one of you to consider running in the elections!

Emma Jackson
Education Officer 2013/14

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