If you’re a prospective student, odds are you’ve heard at least 10 different people tell you to join as many societies as you can in your first year at university. Most people will tell you that getting involved with a society offers many benefits. Help you find others with common interests that end up becoming your best friends, that you’ll perhaps discover your new passion by trying something different, or even that it’ll just be a fun way to spend a couple of hours a week doing something you enjoy. However, very few people will tell that joining a society and really engaging with it might lead to a boost in your career, so let me be the first.
I am a third year Film and Television Production student here at the university. I’ve been involved with Nouse as Film & TV editor for over a year now. I’m also a member of the LUMA Film Festival team for the second year in a row. And let me tell you, joining these teams has been one of the best decisions I’ve made while at university in terms of advancing my career in ways that I hadn’t even foreseen (that doesn’t just involve stating them in your CV).
As Film and TV editor for Nouse, I’ve been involved in exactly 10 print editions spanning over one year and two months, and yet I still shriek in excitement every time I see my article in print. I don’t think I’ve fully wrapped my head around how incredible this whole process is yet in terms of how a society at university resembles a real-life career and workplace. As editors, we source writers and articles to make up each individual section of the paper. We then go into the office to lay it up in InDesign and send it off to print. Of course, this encompasses all the stressful bits and bobs that happen in between every stage of the process, but that makes the end result all the more rewarding and worth it.
Because of my position within the paper, I’ve been able to secure press deals with big companies such as Exhibition on Screen, City Screen, and London Flair PR, all while developing some strong relationships that I have maintained good contact with as potential employers. So, knowing that this is a reflection of how the industry works has made me excited for the future. I am also more comfortable in applying for jobs that follow this same structure.
Being a part of Nouse has inspired me to make plans of creating my own publication. I will submit this as a proposal for my third year independent research project (the equivalent of what some courses have as a dissertation) in hopes that it will become a small independent publication company once I graduate.
LUMA Film Festival
Granted that LUMA isn’t officially a society; it’s a film festival run by students for students hosted by the Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media department every year. However, I like to see it as a society because we share some of the same characteristics. We are active throughout the year, we’re run by students and things can get a bit hectic around busy times. Ultimately we’re just a bunch of passionate students who come together to make something that will hopefully make everyone (and ourselves) proud.
Societies and your future
Getting involved in the sorts of events that are orientated in the general area of a career you want to follow can also help you make up your mind in case you’re torn between two distinct careers paths. For example, last year at LUMA I attended a Q&A session with Aleksandra Dimitrijevic on her job as a festival programmer for the BFI. I left with a huge smile on face from ear to ear realising that I finally found exactly what I wanted to do in the future.
So yes, societies do have a fame of being all fun and games, but what people don’t realise is that some societies (depending on their nature and subject) attract attention from professionals in the industry. Some Nouse alumni have gone on to become journalists for the Financial Times and the Telegraph. While LUMA over the years has attracted speakers such as Sally Wainwright (writer of Happy Valley) and Edgar Wright (director of Baby Driver and Hot Fuzz).
Even if you don’t necessarily leave university with a guaranteed job in the area that you’re interested in, I can guarantee you that joining societies will make you more confident in knowing what it is that you want to pursue after university.