Friday, 13 February 2015

Employability Week: Lessons learnt

Short form:

  • You can't do everything
  • You can rely on other people
  • Sometimes, you need more than a week to do things (that's a tough one for me to learn)
  • You can tell a horse about the water, where it's happening, and how good the water is, but you can't make it drink. Not even if it's been complaining of thirst.
Long form:

This was the week that I learnt that I cannot be everywhere, know everything, organise everyone. It's weird to admit that up until this point I was convinced, absolutely convinced, that if I only tried hard enough I could occupy multiple spaces at once.

Cat physics =/= human physics

I can't. I can try, and it will improve productivity, but there is an upper limit. That was my first lesson of the week, and the second followed on: I have to rely on other people.

On the face of it, this is a pretty obvious thing to say. I wouldn't have got to this point without total reliance on my parents (cheers Mum and Dad!), and I daily rely on bus drivers, lecturers, and a small army of internet-pixies to provide me with soothing cat pictures.

Ah. Soothed.

Yet putting this week together in the very limited time span I had meant relying, and relying heavily, on the brilliant members of my team and my effective and enthusiastic line manager. They absolutely blew me away with enthusiasm and encouragement - encouragement that included the line "You know, you should probably sleep."

The limited time span also limited who I could invite. Great speakers identified by the team turned out to need more than a week's notice (who knew!), which meant there wasn't the range of speakers I'd hoped for. With that being said, feedback has been mostly good, and if I were in a position to run it again next year I would start organising in about September.

It's also laid bare for me the truth that everyone moves at different paces, and some people are impossible to chivvy along. At that point it becomes a struggle, because moving at the pace of the slowest means no movement at all - but not everything can be done last minute in a panic. It's a tough balance to find. I'm making progress.

Finally: horses. This has really been hammered home to me today but all through the week, despite the calibre of the speakers, we struggled to fill seats. Some workshops had sign-ups of 25 and saw attendance at 20% of that. It's really, really frustrating, and obviously it lowers our standing with outstanding speakers. That's really, really annoying.

This problem is way more of a mystery, because I have to get inside the head of someone who signs up for a talk or workshop and then wilfully ignores reminders about it. Why do it in the first place? It's a puzzle. Perhaps it's our fault, for not engaging enough with students. Maybe next year there'll be t-shirted AUSA volunteers invading lecture halls.

I'm going to miss being a student because, whatever happens next, that part of my life is over. Whatever happens next, it's been an absolutely brilliant time, and if you're only just starting now - get involved with your Association or Union. Learn how to manage your time, organise a team, and run an event. Be the change.