Demi, can you tell us what your day-to-day role looks like as a Student Voice Coordinator at Liverpool Students’ Union?
I was very excited when Charityworks offered me the opportunity to work at LiverpoolSU as I’d worked with the Students’ Union during my University career and really wanted to get more involved. One of my main focuses is facilitating the effective running of the Course Rep system, supporting over 1,100 Course Rep Volunteers. This can range from training Course Reps, holding Course Rep events, dealing with any academic issues that arise on their courses and helping them to resolve these issues. One of my favourite aspects of working at an SU is the variety of tasks in the role. Many times throughout the year we have big events such as Freshers’ Fair or Student Officer Election week where all departments work together towards a common goal. This means that I can get away from the desk and get out on campus, speaking to students, which I love!
Can you share an example of the highs and lows of your experience working in the non-profit sector so far?
Working in the non-profit sector can be so varied and rewarding. During Liverpool SU’s mental health awareness week, my organisation worked with the charity Guide Dogs UK in order to organise “Puppy Rooms”. Puppy rooms have been used in Unions across the country as spending time with animals has been proven to help reduce stress levels and improve concentration. I can definitely say playing with puppies helped reduce my stress levels on a Monday morning! It was one of the most successful events the organisation has run, and knowing that we provided a small respite from exam revisions for so many students was extremely satisfying.
Even though the puppy rooms were not my department or objective, I got to help raise awareness of mental health issues which so many students struggle with at University. It really embodies the atmosphere of an SU when representatives from all departments come together to work towards a common goal for the benefit of students.
Sometimes working in the non-profit sector can be stressful and tiring as there is so much to achieve with limited staff and resources. However, when you achieve a win, it allows you to really reflect on the difference you can make.
How do you feel your first piece of impact research has been an important part of your professional development?
During my Law degree I mainly did modules that were exam-based and I did not do a dissertation either. The first piece of impact research I did was a business report so at the beginning I felt a little lost! As I had never done an extended piece of writing before, I felt this impact research was essential for my development, as I envision writing reports is something I will have to do further in my career. My report looked into the student engagement with the student voice department at my organisation, and I’ve continued to develop this piece of work beyond the deadline. Being able to come into an organisation and critically evaluate some of its practices in order to make recommendations for its development is fantastic; it helps you develop skills in communication and evaluation and allows you to make a real difference to the organisation from the beginning of your placement.
If someone asked you to give an example of a particular moment where you knew your decision to pursue a career in this sector was right for you, what would you say?
I think often people wait for a huge crystallising moment for why to work in the non-profit sector, or why they’ve made the right decision. In my employment so far, it has been small moments such as helping a Course Rep get an extra submission on a piece of coursework, or helping someone vote in the student officer elections which have helped me confirm my desire to work in the non-profit sector. Particularly, having a Course Rep at our “Thank you” Awards approach me to thank me for helping her develop was a great moment. Working in a role where I have direct contact with the beneficiaries of my work has really helped me see the value in what I do.