Being a Sabbatical Officer at Bucks was an experience like no other. In short, I developed a whole host of skills in a tiny amount of time, grew in confidence, made lifelong friendships and not a day went by when I wasn't having fun.
Even from the offset when putting yourself forward for the election, it's terrifying...but what have you got to lose? Campaigning in election week taught me so much about myself and even if I hadn't won, I would have taken so much from that experience in itself.
As Vice President Education and Welfare, I got to know students and staff from all areas across the University and find out what is of highest importance to them. The role is about listening so you can represent students to the best of your ability. Things can get tough in the role, however I always told myself if I've managed to help and improve the experience of just one student, I've made a difference. That was a thought I carried every day and it really helped me during my two years.
President sounds like an intimidating title but, as with all the roles, you have a whole team of people behind you, supporting and challenging you on your decision making to ensure you're guiding the Union in the right direction. One of my favourite things about being President was representing Bucks out in the community and getting to brag about all of the amazing things we do e.g. The Big Deal, it's quite easy to brag when you work at one of the top Students' Union's in the UK. The freedom with all Sabbatical roles is really a highlight too, thinking up exciting new campaigns to educate and raise awareness on campus is always a fun challenge, every day you get to work on issues that are important to you and your peers.
I learnt so much about processes and the way things work in business, so even if working in Higher Education isn't your main goal, your knowledge can be transferred to pretty much any organisation! Public speaking is a big part of the role and as a Performing Arts graduate it was something I enjoyed, although you receive constant training during your term in office and I benefited greatly from additional sessions. Training and development is a massive perk of the role and the skills you develop will put you in great stead for your future career, your CV will definitely stand out - it's hardly believable what you will have achieved as a recent graduate!
Your teammates, your fellow officers will truly make your role! Don't let this put you off if you don't know people running for the other roles. In my first year I only knew of my fellow Sabbs and had never had a conversation with them. I'll be honest and they know this, I was dreading working with them, I wasn't sure how we'd get on as a team. They are now two of my closest friends and I can't imagine how I would have got through the year without them. Alongside your fellow Sabbs, the Students' Union staff are your saving grace, talk to them! Find out more about the roles if you're still unsure on nominating yourself. They know everything that you need to know and have seen this process a million and one times.
There are way too many perks to even name about my time as a Sabb at Bucks but I would honestly recommend this experience to any student. You learn something new every single day, your skills set you up perfectly for your future career and let's face it, it's pretty exciting getting an office with your name on the window...
-Lauren O'Shea, Vice President Education and Welfare 2017-2018 and President 2018-2019
Want to find out more about the roles or nominate yourself? Head over to our elections hub.