The first time I was an Academic Rep was in my first year of undergraduate study, and it was key to securing my placement. Why? Put simply, volunteering to be an Academic Rep is a great way of developing a range of skills that employers often look for in their interns or graduates. It gives you plenty of examples to support some of the skills listed in job descriptions, from communication to teamwork. I’m back for more this year as a Rep for my master’s cohort!
Here are the 5 top skills I developed as an Academic Rep:
A good academic rep will create an open dialogue between themselves, their course mates and their department. Not only do we collect feedback, but we must communicate it in a professional, impartial way, even if we are frustrated or disagree. It’s also a great opportunity to act as a mediator between the department and course cohort when there are differing views.
- Time management
All employers want to feel confident that their graduates know how to organize themselves and their time. Being an Academic Rep requires you to liaise with multiple stakeholders, collect feedback in a timely manner, and attend regular meetings to present your findings. These all regular you to self-manage and prove that you can balance commitments on top of your academic work.
Have you ever seen the terms “self-starter” or “highly driven” on a job spec? If you didn’t start a business as an infant, or finish school 3 years early it might be tricky to prove that you’ve got these skills. But being an Academic Rep can help; it takes initiative to volunteer (nobody forced you into it!) and shows employers that you’re different to other candidates.
Whilst we might not be attending SSLCs in person this year, being an Academic Rep requires you to confidently deliver information to your department and answer any questions they might have. If you feel like your online presentation skills could use some fine-tuning, this could be the role for you!
Smaller courses might only have one rep, but most will have at least two which means that you’ll have the opportunity to collaborate. The 2020/21 academic year has seen lots of changes in the way that we’re taught, so it’s even more important that groups of Academic Reps work share the load. I’ve found discussing course feedback with my fellow Reps really useful because we’ve been able to generate creative ideas to feed back to the department, which is always received more positively than simply moaning!
If that’s not enough to convince you of the benefits of being an Academic Rep, it’s also a fantastic way of getting to know your course cohort and academic staff better. It doesn’t require hours upon hours of work either so can easily be slotted in around your studies and other commitments. All in all, it’s a great experience and a useful one too.