Getting Involved: Alvaro’s story

How easy was it to get involved in the opportunities available to you through YUSU?

I started as a Course Rep, but then I progressed to Department Rep and I also joined different societies. It’s pretty easy to get involved. I joined Juggling Society and Latin American Society. I tried many sports and many other things too, but they’re the ones I really got into. In my first year I became President of both those societies. You have to think that you’re only here for three years and, although it seems like a long time during your first year, it does go pretty fast. So if you don’t take the opportunities as they come you’ll regret it.

How do you think you’ve made the most out of these opportunities?

I made the most out of opportunities by really getting involved. The big thing that I learned was how to work with people and work in teams. I prioritised that at the beginning, and when you work with others you have to take into account how they work. I spoke to Careers and I started joining courses and got some training and got involved in the Laidlaw Scholarship. I’m a Chemistry student so I don’t get much experience in management or team building activities, so I found these opportunities. I used YUSU, the societies, being a Department Rep, to actually develop those management skills.

How have these opportunities led you to what you’re doing now?

As a science student, I thought I was going to be in the lab. I am still doing research internships, but taking these opportunities and working with people actually motivated me and it’s what makes me get up in the morning. So whatever I do, I want to end up working with people. In my last year as Department Rep, I actually had the chance to develop the Course Reps. I had personal coaching sessions with each of them. I really enjoyed coaching people and I joined a lot of public speaking workshops. So I’m now delivering talks with Careers.

What’s your proudest achievement from university?

I think what I’ve learned is how to develop myself and I’ve helped people to understand that it’s really important to know themselves. Being able to help people develop themselves is my greatest achievement. When you work with a team of really lovely people and you help each other to develop and work together, the team achieves more stuff! We (the Latin American Society) won the Society of the Year Award which was really cool, and that’s probably because of the work we’ve done as a team. I was in the team for three years and, similarly, I worked with my department for three years and we’d previously done nothing like what we’ve achieved this year - being able to improve the department by working with and developing people.

What advice would you give to incoming students about making the most out of their time at uni?

Don’t take things for granted. Opportunities come, but you have to take them, and the more you get involved the better. You obviously have to have a balance between work, mental health and your social life. But do take opportunities. If you can’t see the opportunity there, don’t feel like there is no opportunity. You can go and find them yourself. I went out and sought opportunities like courses that were usually only meant for staff. Once you get involved in things, you’ll learn a lot and you’ll enjoy your time more. If you want to focus on something, go for it!