A happy new year to you all out there in readerland. We're in the middle of putting together issue 7 of Pugwash News, the first (hopefully of many!) for 2008.
I hope you all spent at least some of your free time over the holidays taking a break from coursework and/or the obligatory part-time job almost every University student I've ever known has had to take on to pay the bills.
Students are generally regarded as one of the most hard-core groups of job-hunters, accepting offers of employment as diverse as turkey inseminators (eww) and deckchair assistants (a position better suited to the summer months, admittedly), and anything in-between.
I've spent my Christmas taking a good look at what makes student employment tick, looking at students' union "job shop" websites across the country, as well as some of the larger ones including Monster and The Grauniad... sorry, The Guardian.
This hasn't been because I'm getting cold feet in my current position as Media Officer, but because I've been working hard on the new UPSU JobShop website. The old website's done us proud, with thousands of students finding part-time work each year through the Union - and not a single turkey-farm job in sight - but for technical reasons, the old JobShop website hasn't seen any development over the last few years, and has to run on a separate web server away from the rest of the UPSU.net website, making it difficult to really highlight the wide range of part-time jobs our JobShop is so popular for across the rest of the website.
Hopefully it’ll all be done and dusted and ready to turn on (at upsu.net/jobshop) around the third week of January, fingers crossed!
We’ve also got a massive archive of back-issues of Pugwash magazine and Pugwash News online on the Pugwash website - there’s loads of great articles in there from previous years which are still as relevant today as they were when they were published, and are well worth a look (during breaks in revision, of course!).
I've also spent some of my hard-earned on a new pair of DJing headphones, as my last pair fell apart after 12 years' use, so at last I should be able to start putting together some new mixes to listen to, play on Pure FM, and annoy everyone in the Sabb office with ;o)
There’s a point to this rambling stream-of-consciousness, of course: with the Sabb Elections beginning in the next couple of weeks, and voting in the first week of March, I’ve been thinking about what makes a good Media Officer.
I’ve got a bit of a web design background, have a passing acquaintance with DJing and radio production, can use Quark and Photoshop to knock out something approaching a half-decent publication, and even know which way round to hold a camera.
Similarly, previous Media Officers have boasted skills as wide-ranging as video production, radio presenting, news journalism, management experience (and something they call “people skills”, although I’m not convinced they’re any more real than the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus… ;o), artistic flair… the list goes on.
There doesn’t seem to be any particular “theme” here though - UPSU Media Officers don’t seem to have a common interest, hobby, past-time or skill, apart - possibly - from a masochistic streak when it comes to working hard.
Generally speaking, what sets Sabbatical Officers apart from your average student? It’s as simple - and as vague - as this: they’re all prepared to put in a bit more effort and spend a bit more time learning how the Union works, to pick up the skills they needed to get done whatever job needed doing, and to pitch in and take on as much of the work necessary to get “the job” done, whether the job in question was producing an issue of Pugwash or Purple Wednesdays, wading through endless paperwork to organise a charity fund-raiser, or running a campaign, to name a few.
That’s no insult to individual abilities, though: after a year working hard in office, every UPSU Media Officer walks away with a vastly-improved understanding of radio, print and web media production. Their people and management skills have developed, and they’ve gained a better understanding of the yawn-inducing intricacies of budgeting, learnt a chunk of DTP and design skills, and probably come close to the occasional nervous breakdown from sitting through seemingly endless meetings ;o)
This isn’t a recruitment speech, and it isn’t a 1,000-word propaganda broadcast… Ok, it is a bit: if you’re interested in media, and you’re thinking of the “next big step” after University, running for the position of UPSU Media Officer in the coming Sabb Elections might not be the worst career decision you’ll ever make.
Likewise, if you’re already thinking about running for the position, please go back and re-read the last few paragraphs. Being a Media Officer isn’t just about designing websites, writing in the student newspaper or learning to play touch-cup (grin); like every other Sabb officer, you have to take responsibility for the day-to-day running and long-term planning of the Students’ Union first, and only then are you “free” to make sure student media is doing what it should be - communicating with as many students as will listen to you!
I hope this year’s elections see some of the largest numbers of candidates in recent history, especially for the traditionally most-contested position of Media Officer. I also hope that every student takes ten minutes to read the candidate manifestos and to place their vote.
If you’re thinking of running for election, take a look at upsu.net/elections to see what happened last year, or you can drop into the Sabb office at the Union and ask us all sorts of awkward question if you’d prefer!
Until next time, c ya! :o) /al