How important is the student union to a Fresher?
By Nicole Correia,
The union. You’ll hear this word thrown about by everyone; first years, second years, third years, post grads, lecturers and other uni students. The student union is one of the many aspects that makes university so very different from school - and that isn’t just because you can drink and party there. No. The union is a really a lot more than that. It is a lifesaver, for a variety of different reasons.
The student union will vary from uni to uni - some will have a campus shop, where you can buy milk, bread, and booze. Some will have a bagel shop, some have medical advice areas, some have estate agents - the student union helps bridge the gap between student life and adult responsibilities. It’s there for you when you need something to eat and it’s there for you when you need someone to talk to… or if you’re bored. It’s important in your first week to get to know the union – what is on offer and who you can speak too.
The union is the place to go if you are looking for a campus job. Most universities will have vacancies at the beginning of the year, but these positions are usually in high demand; so get you CV sorted and apply as soon as you can. It’s a great way to not only earn some cash, but to also make friends in different years - which is great as another option if you need someone helpful to talk to.
Get involved with your SU, especially if you’re doing an events, business or management degree, or feel that you would like to become more socially involved with your university community. Your student union will give you the opportunity to set up your own society, and this could be fantastic experience for your future; managing people, finance and events. Both attending, supporting and running a society are all great things to add to your CV to show yourself as an all-rounded achiever.
Going one step further, the union is run by students and/or alumni, and there may well be a chance for you to get involved and make a difference to student life at your university.
The student union can help you make friends and is one thing that that all students have in common. theunipod spoke to a graduate from the University of Reading, who now works in events management, about the student union and how it helped her not only make friends, but find her career path. She realised she could start her career using the skills that the opportunities at the students’ union had provided her with. Lucy, who is now 27 worked behind the bar: “After making friends during and after Fresher’s week, I later became a hall rep to earn a bit of money. I soon realised that I could make money by organising people and having a good time. Five years later and I’m still doing that, but now we call it networking!”
Even if you’re not at all interested in being a hall rep, you can make the most of the events they organise to make friends and meet new people. You’ll also be able to make new friends at university through university societies, that are supported by the student union. During Fresher’s week you’ll be able to sign up to societies and find out what other things there are to do at university at the Fresher’s Fair.
You can – and should – also enjoy the privileges of your student union outside your university. During Fresher’s week you will have numerous opportunities to purchase an NUS card which gives you fantastic discounts in hundreds of shops, restaurants and cafes. You can buy one at your union and have it delivered straight to your flat, before enjoying all of the student benefits!
So now that you know most of the services that your student union offers you, and how to find out more about it you can really fully immerse in university life. The student union will be an integral part of your university experience, whatever year you are studying in, so be sure to make the most of it.