Last September, I started my board year together with 5 other motivated and enthusiastic fellow board members. While we started in the middle of covid times and had no idea what a year in that situation was going to look like, I have never seen it as a restriction but as a challenge to look for new opportunities. Therefore, I was really happy to find out that from day one my fellow board members had the same attitude which created a really positive vibe throughout the whole year and helped us in being flexible in the changing situations we faced.
Before I made the choice to start a board year at the Student Union, I was really in doubt. As I like to be involved in so many different things and everything sounded so much fun. Whether it was organising a big event like the introduction period, challenge yourself in one of the Twente Teams or running a student association, I wanted to do it all and couldn’t make a real choice. Till I found out that within the Student Union – being the umbrella organisation for all these other organisations I was interested in – I could actually do everything for a little bit at once within a year and make a real impact there. At that moment, I made the perfect decision. I do not regret it at all, as I experienced so many wonderful moments here!
Already in the first weeks, I noticed that not one day is like the other. The Student Union – with over a 120 employees – is organised in a streamlined way. Thus you’re not only running this organisation to keep on organizing the same activities and things, but also think outside of the box! One way or another, you continuously try to make impact to create the best student life as possible for you and your fellow students. You can actually choose yourself where you want to put the focus on in your board year, based on your own interests and ambitions which gives you a real motivational boost.
SWITCHING BETWEEN PORTFOLIOS
I started my year as portfolio holder of External Affairs, Entrepreneurship & Innovation. The entrepreneurial world of students was one big eye opener for me. While I would have described myself as a well-organised person (I loved having and keeping control), I learned here to – while it sounds cliché – “go with the flow” and always actively ensure your freedom in making steps because you never know what the world of tomorrow will bring you. Only when you stay flexible and open-minded, you can act and react on the ever-changing world around you. After some time, I really started to appreciate this approach and it inspired me to make the first steps in my new portfolio Innovation.
Half a year later, I got the unique chance to switch from portfolios and take over the role of President. While I would never have positioned myself as chairman of such a big organisation at the start of my year, I was ready for a new challenge and became really enthusiastic about it. Now that I’m used to my new position, I can say like no other that even within the different portfolios we have, there are so many differences and within every portfolio you learn new things. Where I got a lot of freedom within my old portfolio and I was focused on specific areas within the student population and our organisation, now – within my new portfolio – I really like to be involved in everyone’s projects, get the best out of every single board member and help them in achieving the joint goals we have. Every day, I see our organisation improving and I get proud of the steps we make. To be part of the changes that affect the lives of more than 12.000 students is something that still really fascinates me and boosts my motivation for everything I’m doing!
STUDENTS ARE IMPORTANT!
Something I was really surprised of, is the unique position we as students have within this University. Last month, we were asked to welcome the minister of Education at our University. Because I heard from other Universities that the Executive Board of a University usually welcomes these types of formal visits, I asked one of the members of our Executive Board if they were willing to organize this event. They surprisingly responded “Don’t you want to do it yourself? Of course we can help, but only if you would like us to”. For me, this is one of the examples showing that the UT really puts students first and gives them as much responsibility as possible. Why letting UT employees make decisions on student matters, if students know better what’s best for them and can decide on it themselves? That vision is exactly where the Student Union – as only one in the Netherlands – was established by more than 20 years ago.
Within the Student Union, everything is always focused on personal development. The many skills we learned during trainings could directly be put into practice during our daily board tasks, which is a good way of working to make a lot of progress in a short time. I noticed that, for me, SU was the perfect balance between working efficiently and having a lot of fun. I didn’t want to waste my time during this year and was motivated to make real impact in student life, but at the same time I still wanted to enjoy my own student life and have time for the social activities I was involved in. The SU gave me the chance to do so.
WHAT I GAINED
Looking back at this year, I can totally say that it never felt as a delay in my study time. I’ve learned so much more than I would ever have learned during a regular study year. Even in a year without one constitution drink or normal day because of these weird and ever-changing times, together with my fellow board members we made the best of it and came up with many creative and fun alternatives for everything that we would have done during a usual year. This really learned me to not get stuck in things you cannot control but create your own fun within the many opportunities you have.
In my enthusiasm I could talk and write so much more about my portfolios and being an SU board member, so if you are really interested in doing a board year at the Student Union, don’t hesitate to contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org or come to our next interest drink on May 6th at 16.00!