Student - May 10, 2012

Why you should do a year on a board

Now that the hunt is on for new board members for the next season, many student organizations are reporting finding it difficult to fill all their vacancies. The threatened fine for slow students and scrapping of the basis grant have led many students to concentrate exclusively on their studies. Pity, say the old hands on the boards. Not just for the societies but also for the students themselves. Because the experience you gain is invaluable. Five reasons why you should serve on a board.

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1. Get to know people
You meet a lot of people who you might do something interesting with in the future', says Pascal ten Have, who suspended his degree course in Forest and Nature Management for a year to chair the national students' union LSVb. 'Especially in the role of chair, you get to talk to lots of interesting people including ministers, state secretaries and members of parliament. But you also meet people like SER chair Alexander Rinnooy Kan, Arnold Heertje and of course many highly committed fellow-students. This wasn't my main motive for doing this job, but it is a nice side benefit.'
2. Pep up your CV
One ex-chair of the Intercity Students' Council is now personal assistant to minister Jan Kees de Jager, while another got a traineeship at a multinational company thanks to the network he built up. And the experience you gain can itself be helpful when you are applying for jobs. With only his Bachelor's degree in Plant Sciences to his name, Peter van Kampen was taken on as knowledge consultant by the Dutch Fruit-growers' Organization. Peter was deputy chair of the student council for VeSte in 2008-2009. 'My year on the council helped me to bring out my qualities better. You learn how to present yourself. It helps in a job interview if you can give concrete examples and anecdotes, about how you solved particular situations, for example', explains Peter.
3. Do interesting things
'The winter twilight and the snow in the streets gave the old city a magical air', recalls Tjeerd Driessen. As deputy chair of the Wageningen branch of the international student organization Aiesec, he visited the Aiesec branch in Uppsala, Sweden in 2006. It was love at first sight. 'There was a very friendly atmosphere and I liked the language.' Tjeerd went on to do a minor at Uppsala and then worked in Stockholm for a while. He had previously done an internship with Aiesec in Sri Lanka. Since graduating in 2009, he has made regular trips abroad for his work as river engineer with Royal Haskoning consultancy firm. He looks back with pleasure on his Aiesec days. 'It enriches your international friendship group. By taking each other along you get to know each other's cultures better.'
4. Get organizational experience
'I learned a lot about thing that you don't normally come into contact with at all. For example, practical things such as how ventilation systems or a fuse board work', says Dinja Bol, Bachelor's student of Soil, Water and Atmosphere and currently Activities and Buildings officer for youth association Unitas. At the start of this year her main activities were focused on the legal and municipal council procedures related to the association's move. Now that Unitas has moved into its new building, Dinja is busy making it usable. 'I have also gained a lot of experience of planning activities and making contact with various parties, from local residents to town councillors. I will certainly benefit from my board experience later in life.'
5. Make a difference
'We have been able to show what matters to students', says Karmijn van den Berg, Master's student of Landscape Architecture and Planning. In 2010/2011, Karmijn was chair of the Wageningen Students' Organization (WSO), which has now been merged into PULSE. 'The university board originally had no idea, for example, of the problems faced by foreign students in their emergency accommodation. The WSO drew attention to that, which led to the accommodation being improved and the rent being reduced', explains Karmijn. The WSO also played an active role in the campaigns against the slow students' fine. 'We came to a strange end, but I am proud of everything we achieved in our last year. I was really able to do my bit for student life in Wageningen.'
 

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