By Grace Walters
Getting involved in a society at university has the kind of rewards your parents will be constantly urging you to reap: a social group with shared interests (often even from outside your college); an opportunity to escape the academic environment; and some exciting experience to add to your CV.
Usually, people won’t get involved with actually being on the committee of a society in your first term, since the first couple months are really a time to absorb the new environment and try out stints of lots of new opportunities before you make such a big time-commitment … yet this isn’t a rule, of course. So, around your second or third term, you can start sussing whether you’d enjoy working organisationally with something you enjoy. The options cover so many categories: sport, politics, equality or access, tutoring/volunteering, debating – the list goes on. In my second term I decided that I’d be interested in joining the committee of a feminist society: I’d attended and loved a handful of events, and thought I actually had a few ideas I could contribute.
Following the social media accounts of societies you’re interested in helps keep your eye on the ball. Before you even start university, it can be exciting to scroll the website displaying all the clubs your institution offers and then follow all the ones which pique your intrigue.
The kind of roles available are broad and plentiful, and so you can tailor it to the kind of skills you’re looking to harness. There’sevents-planning an organisation, which can include contacting sites for room-bookings; set-up before a meeting; facilitating drinks and nibbles; and often the more creative side of an event, like its theme or purpose. Social media or advertising and promotions is ideal for the creatives out there, but it’s also accompanied by cool fascinating insights into analytics and profile growth! President and Vice-President roles let you implement bigger changes, but just be wary that it can often be a significant time-commitment, so don’t take up too much at once if it would stress you out. Or there’s a position like Treasurer, where you balance finances and membership fees – perfect if that’s an industry you’d like to enter one day, but also just generally fun! These positions often come with free membership and reduced attendance fees for big events, so it makes socialising even more appealing at a place like Oxford where the call of the library can often become bewitching.
Finally, remember that, while it’s amazing to be prioritising productivity and considering your future career, don’t believe that you have to ‘do it all’ in order to succeed at Oxford: you don’t have to be sporty, on a committee, engaged in political debate clubs, getting consistent Firsts, and clubbing at least once a week … it’s about what you personally want to get out of the university experience, because these are the years where you get to take the wheel on your priorities.