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Mark Riley
Societies Coordinator
City Students’ Union / Student Associations

My journey inside the weird and wonderful world of students’ unions / student associations started as a student at the University of West London looking to make some extra cash – living in London is quite expensive if you hadn’t heard – but I wasn’t really aware of just how fundamentally life-changing that decision was going to be.

I landed a role as a Communications Assistant, where I was utilising my Broadcast Journalism degree and interest in writing in a real world environment, and my engagement with SUs steamrollered from there. I also went on to work as their Societies Administrator, contribute to their Big Conversation project, and even run the 5-a-side football sessions – all while completing a degree, writing a dissertation, and being involved in a frankly alarming amount of clubs and societies too.

The reasons I did all of this were simple: I enjoyed my job. I was good at it. I got job satisfaction, a decent wage, and a HUGE amount of professional and personal development. My manager took the time there to ensure that I was improving my knowledge and gaining essential experience in the field. Staff there helped me with mock job interviews for when I graduated. I was included in project planning meetings and my ideas were encouraged, nurtured, and implemented to the point that I felt like a part of something; that something happened to be an SU / Student Associations that become the top SU / Student Associations in the country two years running.

Upon graduating, I knew I had the bug for SUs / Student Associations and wanted to continue improving the student experience wherever I ended up next. Finding work right here on helped me narrow down a quite competitive job field and comprehensively weigh up where I could and should go next in my career, and I’ve been able to attain a plethora of experience in multiple roles which has led me to where I am right now: City, University of London.

My role as a Societies Coordinator here involves working with the majority of student groups on campus, managing their events, activities, finances, volunteers, and training – I see it as my responsibility to engage them in the same way that I was engaged as a student, way back in 2014 at West London.

While one day I might be doing a fair amount of admin work, processing receipts for video game consoles and jars of paint (all in a hard day’s work, honest), another day might be spent planning some really cool, innovative campaigns and projects that can change the student experience at City for years to come.

All of this comes with the added benefit of an employer that values my career progression and understands what I want out of the role, allowing me to attend conferences, enrol in various courses and development opportunities, and receive constructive feedback in a supportive working environment filled with great people and great work.

Not bad for a kid who was just looking to make some extra cash while putting off their dissertation.

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