In early autumn, I asked people active in the committees what they considered the best part of this year’s activities. To be frank, the answers were not surprising, but they still warm my heart in these November nights. Most of the answers were related to the people and community around the committees. I would have answered something similar myself, as I cannot even begin to put into words everything that I have got from student activities and the new people I have met through them.
‘The best part of this year were the great
people and good atmosphere.
Getting to be a part of a community.’
– Committee member
DO YOU KNOW WHAT OUR STUDENT UNION’S COMMITTEES DO?
I certainly did not before I joined the activities of the Student Organisations Committee a couple of years ago. This year, I have got to observe the activities of the committees from an even broader perspective, and I can say with all my heart that I warmly recommend looking into their activities! The committees are the easiest way to take part in our Student Union’s activities, as they are open to everyone and joining the activities does not require you to make any long-term commitments. You can get involved exactly to the extent and level of commitment that suits you.
There are currently eight committees operating in our Student Union, and everyone is able to advance the things they consider important in them. Committees plan their own activities for each year themselves and are free to do exactly the things they find meaningful. Each committee has a member of HYY’s Board who is responsible for the committee as well as specialists working at our office to provide them with support.
‘The best part has been that
I’ve understoodthe status and
importance of the committees.
We got to make a fresh start
and work for valuable goals.’
– Committee member
WHAT DO YOU GET FROM VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES?
After many years of active student activities and with my master’s studies now in their final stretch, I can safely say that I have thought about this question a lot. The friendships I believe will last a lifetime are the first thing to come to mind. I will always remember all the amazing experiences, fantastically funny events and the invaluably educational and even tough experiences. I have got to practice skills I certainly would not have learned by sitting in lecture halls. I have gained experience that I can proudly mention in any work interview. I have got to be in charge, influence matters and enjoy the fruits of my labour. I have encountered different kinds of people, including people with opinions that differ from mine, who I might not have met had I only got to know people from my own faculty.
I am not saying that my calendar has not occasionally been overflowing when I tried to juggle studies, work and student activities. On the other hand, I do not believe that even several years’ worth of work experience could have taught me similar time management and prioritisation skills. How many recent graduates can say that they have organised events for hundreds or even thousands of people, that they have conducted advocacy work in parliamentary elections or that they are an experienced trainer of volunteers? According to the career monitoring report of the University of Helsinki, project management and organisation skills are considered important in working life. However, university studies are not considered to sufficiently support their development. The same goes for cooperation and negotiation skills, for instance. For me, these are the skills I would list first among those I have learned in volunteer activities.
This year, we have developed ways of recognising the skills of volunteers working in the Student Union. Our goal is that the volunteers would learn to better verbalise the skills they have learned in volunteer activities and that their creditable activities would provide them with something concrete. As a result of this work, we are piloting digital open badges at the end of the year. These can be added as part of your CV or shared on social media. Keep your ears open, as there will be further information on this soon!
‘The best part of this year has been
the receptive, encouraging and
inspiring community, where it is easy
to accumulate and develop your own
skillsand to directly influence
matters close to your own heart.’
– Committee member
Autumns are dark, cold and long. However, autumn is also the time when volunteer activities are in bloom in our Student Union! Right now, there are several positions for which we are looking for new, enthusiastic students who want to make the most of student life. If you are not yet familiar with committees or the organisations operating under us, challenge yourself and take a step towards the unknown – you may be surprised!
The committees’ election meetings are held in November–December. You can join the meetings just to munch on the snacks and take in the atmosphere. And if now is not the right time for you, you can always come and check out the activities later at any time during the year.
Member of HYY’s Board in charge of volunteers