When did you get involved in NTSU?
In my 2nd year (3 years ago). I was looking for some volunteering to do to help add to my CV.
In what capacity are you involved with NTSU?
I am a Volunteer Coordinator for Nightline. Previously I was the NTU Information Officer. Nightline is a helpline for students which is run in partnership between NTU and University of Nottingham, so somebody taking a call might not necessarily be an NTU student. As Information Officer it was my job to make sure the relevant information was easily available for the people fielding calls. I was the first NTU Coordinator and I work with UoN’s Coordinator to manage the day-to-day running of the service, including attending meetings, writing policy, supporting volunteers, providing training and anything else that is required.
What impact has being involved in NTSU had on your time at NTU?
50 people applied to be a volunteer and only 14 of us got picked, which I found quite personally inspiring. It has given me something to focus on and be passionate about away from my studies. I have also made lots of friends through my involvement and I can’t imagine what my degree would have been like otherwise. It has been the thing that has made me feel like I belong to the student community and am a part of something bigger than just my studies. Because the nature of what Nightline does is supporting other students, i feel like I am giving back to the university and helping other people which makes me feel really good about doing it.
Do you feel it has helped with your personal development?
Yes. It has given me a lot more confidence and has helped me build skills such as team-leading, motivating others and working as part of a team. Those skills are really useful in any job and general life and you can’t teach them in a classroom; they are something that can only come with experience. I was a bit like a rabbit in the headlights when I first started but the experience has really helped me grow as a person, something other people have noticed and commented on too. It’s great to see that other people believe in you.
Do you think being involved in NTSU is helping you on your course?
In my Masters we did a module on listening skills and it was quite apparent that many students struggled with it but I had six weeks of listening skills training through Nightline so I was already aware of what I should be doing. My experience has also given me a better understanding of what people facing certain issues are going through. You can read about it in a book but unless you have experienced it yourself you don’t really know, so I feel it has given me a bit of a leg up in that regard.
Do you think being involved in NTSU is helping you prepare for life after uni?
The role of Coordinator is like having a full-time job. So doing that on top of my full-time course has taught me how to manage my time really well. I have also learnt how to communicate with people on different levels as I have to communicate with university staff, external people and volunteers as well as the students who call into the service. I have had a couple of job interviews recently and my experience of working on Nightline has really helped me to give relevant answers to the interview questions. Having that experience, which didn’t cost me anything, is great.
Would you recommend that other students get involved in NTSU?
Definitely. You should get involved in something, whether you have a little bit of time to spare or a lot. I would say do something because you want to do it rather than you feel like you should. If you are giving up your time you want it to be something you enjoy; it adds to your university experience and is lots of fun.