Sarah, an international relations graduate, now works as a research and policy officer for the National Union of Students. She considers her involvement and experience with LUU in political campaigns and as women’s officer, of real value in her current role.
What is your current profession?
I am the Research and Policy Officer (Student Welfare), for the Social Policy team, National Union of Students.
Describe your role.
I work on campaigns regarding welfare and students’ rights. Broad areas include housing and student accommodation, community issues, health (including sexual health and mental health, drugs and alcohol, students with caring responsibilities and general student wellbeing.
Describe your career progression.
I ran and got elected as Women’s Officer at LUU for 2006/7 year. During the year I got the opportunity to work on such a wide range of issues including our governance review and community strategy.
What did you do immediately after leaving University?
I was Women’s Officer, then went straight to my job at NUS.
What did you do whilst studying that helped pave the way into your chosen career?
Well, my degree was obviously political so that helped a great deal, but I also was involved in the Women’s Campaign in the students’ union and I wrote for a magazine called Lippy. Lots of my friends were also heavily involved in Leeds Student Radio so I got lots of experience in the media aspects of the Union too!
What skills and attributes did you develop as part of your course?
Wow, my love of reading, discussion and debate. I still really want to do my masters, just saving enough money to make that a viable option really! I was the first person in my family to go to uni so pretty much everything about the experience and being around such inspirational people was a steep learning curve for me and I loved every minute. Reading lots of peoples’ opinions and debating their stances and arguing your own position; writing fluently and coherently; independent study and research; time management.
What skills and attributes did you develop from your co-curricular activities?
Campaigning; networking; mapping out other people’s agendas; writing articles; managing volunteers; coping with political environments and processes.
What advice would you have for students studying today?
To get involved in the students’ union! There’s such a wide range of ways you can do this that you don’t need to be a certain ‘type’ of person and the people you meet and the connections you make will be invaluable as you progress in your career.
Make the most of your time at Uni it really is a unique time when you learn so much, both academically and socially. Lots of people know exactly what they want to do and study from day dot – I wasn’t that person, but having my first year where I could try new subjects, take electives and scope out my interests proved very beneficial.
Try and get work experience and placements during holidays or around classes etc. I know it’s hard to think about what you want to do afterwards but this can really add strings to your bow, and help you meet people that you may be able to call up for a favour from time to time!! I also found talking to my personal tutors and course leaders a lot helped to see the wood for the trees (not my strong point!).