Vote for Jade: How I set up my own society in first year

25 Mar 2019
By Jade P., Student at University of Gloucestershire

One of the most exciting things about starting university for me was the prospect of joining societies. But when I started in September 2017, I had no idea that by December I would be president of one, with a vice president, treasurer, and a budget to look after.

In the beginning, I didn’t know how to run a society (I’m not sure I really know now) and had zero confidence that I could ever do something like that!

So how does a fresher, with no experience, become a society president by Christmas?

‘We’ll have to do it ourselves then’

A month before I started university, I was browsing the societies on offer at my university - the marketing society instantly stood out to me. As I was starting a marketing degree, it sounded like it would benefit me and would probably be quite fun.

But, when freshers’ fair came round in September, there was no sign of the society. I didn’t think much of it at the time, and it wasn’t until December that I thought of the marketing society again.

It was during the break of a two-hour lecture when I turned to my friends and asked them about the marketing society. None of us had any idea if the society was running, so we went and asked at our Students’ Union. They told us the marketing society wasn’t running because nobody wanted to run it.

Within the hour, we had signed up to take over the society - and I was its president.

‘We’ve got no idea what we’re doing’

We had three members, hardly any guidance, and none of us had attended a society event before - let alone run a society.

We tried so hard to promote our first social, with flyers and announcements in lectures. We were terrified that no one would turn up, and we would be sat there alone for hours. But people did turn up (mostly friends), and our society was born.

From there we grew, with friends bringing other friends, and word getting out. Our socials became a little more interesting - pub quizzes at a bar near university, mini golf, and study sessions when deadlines approached. We became a really tight-knit community of friends.

At the end of the year, we sent an email to the head of our department, making some requests for next year’s course. These requests were taken on board and hopefully some changes will be made for this September. This was a highlight, as I felt we were making a real difference not only to the society but to the whole business school.

‘We’ll get bigger and stronger’

The leadership and communication skills I learned this year have helped me a lot. I have gained confidence, along with a group of friends who I hope will stay in the society next year and help it grow into an even tighter community.

To remain president for next year, I needed to be voted back in. So we held elections, where I ran against my then vice president. There was just one vote in it, but I won! And, more importantly, we were able to elect new committee members (social secretaries and communications officers) to help run and grow the society.

I am looking forward to next year more than ever. Not only to start my studies again but to gain more members and expand the society, to run more socials and be faced with more challenges - such as freshers’ fair.

‘It’s tough but it’s worth it’

Running a society is in no way easy. It has been one of the hardest things I have done at university so far. Balancing the society with my studies has been difficult, and organising people and events brings a lot of pressure.

I don’t know why I did it, but I do know that I don’t regret it. I have helped create a community of students, who are friends and a great support network for each other.

Thinking of starting a society at university? Don’t give up. Even when it’s a small group of you and you feel it’s not worth it, it will be in the end.

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Jade is second year Business and Marketing Management student studying at the University of Gloucestershire.