A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
By doing a master, you do not only acquire academic and professional skills but also foster your personal development in many aspects. One way to develop new skills, make new friends, challenge yourself and make a difference during your master’s is to serve as a student representative.
I have been serving as a student representative of the Advanced Masters of Law and Digital Technologies class of 2019/2020. Although it has been a challenging year for everyone, I think being a student representative has helped me to improve my interpersonal skills and allowed me to enjoy my master’s even more despite the ongoing circumstances. Therefore, I would like to encourage you to run for student representative by listing four reasons why you should do so.
I would like to start mentioning the very reason that makes being a student representative a fun experience. Although the role of student representatives may vary from department to department, the main task of the student representatives usually assigned as to listening to fellow students and convey their concerns and suggestions to the academic staff. Needless to say, you need strong communication skills and dedication for that. However, the price for such task appears as a closer-bond with your classmates which I think is extremely valuable.
Usually in the large classes, students do not find the opportunity to get together or hang around unless there are certain activities designed for this, for instance group assignments or study trips. However, being the student representative allows you to communicate with each and every single classmate of yours on a constant basis. By doing so, you learn more about them and eventually become closer friends. Moreover, this opportunity allows you also to learn about other cultures, and even languages, by expanding your social circle.
Although it is a challenging position, as a student representative you encounter with many opportunities to develop new skills or improve your abilities. In the end, being a student representative inevitably improves your communication, negotiation and organisation skills.
First and foremost, you need strong communication skills in order to understand the concerns of your classmates and convey their messages correctly and efficiently to the academic staff. In order to do this, you might want to check and practice some techniques like active listening or reflective listening. These techniques would help you to listen better, answer better and eventually communicate better with your fellow classmates. At the end of the year, you will realize that you had become a better listener.
Of course, there will be times that you will be more than a listener and/or messenger; you will be negotiating with the academic staff like an ambassador of your class. In order to achieve your goals during these negotiations, you need to have strong develop negotiation skills and develop them further. One way to do this that I used quite often is to speaking with numbers. For instance, if your classmates are asking for something and you believe this is a general concern, you can do a survey among your classmates and incorporate the results of this survey in your mail/report to the academic staff in order to show the popularity of such demand among your classmates.
Last but not least, you need to have strong organisation and time management skills in order to manage your studies alongside with your tasks as student representative. However, regardless of whether you already acquired these skills or not, being a student representative definitely gives you the opportunity to learn how to prioritize your tasks and be more time-efficient. I believe this would constitute a valuable asset for you both in your personal and professional life after your graduation.
For the second part of this blog, please click on this link.