Politics and Parliamentary Studies
Part-time work and involvement in co-curricular activities played an important part in Susan’s university experience. Having graduated in politics and parliamentary studies, Susan went on to be education officer in LUU and is spending the next year on the National Executive Committee for the NUS.
What is your current profession?
I was the Education Officer for LUU for 2007-8. I have now been elected as one of the 12 part time members on the National Executive Committee for the National Union of Students (NUS).
Describe your role.
As Education Officer I was responsible for representing over 30,000 students at Leeds University Union on any issues relating to their course and wider student experience.
As a block member for the NUS I am responsible for representing in excess of 7m students across the UK, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Describe your career progression.
I haven’t long graduated and am still not sure what career path I want to take. At the moment I am doing something I love and get a great sense of reward from. Being an elected representative can be tough and its challenging work, but you get to such an array of exceptional things and meet such inspiring people along the way.
What did you do immediately after leaving University?
Like so many other Leeds graduates I feel in love with the city and stayed. I got elected to be LUU’s Education Officer in the second term of my last year so I knew fairly early on I was going to be living in Leeds for another year.
What did you do whilst studying that helped pave the way into your chosen career?
A few things I did which led me onto this path. I joined lots of societies- not only did it help me meet loads of people, it gave me confidence, gave me experience in campaigning and organising things, and helped me learn more about politics. After my placement year I sought a representative position at a local level within my school, before long I stood for election for a faculty position, and in this position I championed the rights and complaints students had, and helped informed University policy from a student perspective.
What skills and attributes did you develop as part of your course?
My course involved a lot of independent learning so I developed a great deal of self discipline. I feel the first two years of my course were important in developing a broaden base of knowledge and beliefs. My third year, my placement year was the most valuable experience on my course. This gave me chance to develop and refine my skills and competencies. I was given a wealth of opportunities including managerial responsibilities, campaign and financial roles, research skills, and the ability to respond to incredibly fast changing organisational structures, as the political environment was changing so rapidly.
What skills and attributes did you develop from your co-curricular activities?
I worked part time during my degree in a number of menial jobs, but working gave me great time management skills and a great sense of fulfilment. It helped me develop professionally as well as demonstrating my reliability and ability to multi task my degree and work effectively. Being involved in politics informally on campus helped broaden my views, knowledge and values. It was the co-curricular activities that led me to where I am today and really brought my skills alive in an environment which celebrated diversity and participation. My time as a Union Academic Rep led me to the full time post as Education Officer, and it was a great stepping stone for an exec position which has opened up new doors and invigorated my skills and experience.
What advice would you have for students studying today?
Get involved! I didn’t do enough whilst at Leeds and I did more than most. I cannot stress how much you will love Uni more if you participate in more things- whether that is your course, a job, a society, a sport, a hall committee or even a representative role. Don’t worry what it is, just get out there. You should come to Uni ready to experience new things, meet new people and redevelop your approach to life along the way. Leeds has everything you could wish for, it literally is your oyster…so make the most of Uni or forever live to regret it.