Utrecht has a lively student culture; there is always something going on and many events are organised for and by students. This is all, to a large extent, facilitated by the many student organisations. These are run by students on a voluntary basis; some positions are full-time, whereas others are part-time and (usually) combined with a studying.
When I told my family and friends that I was going to take a year off from my studies to be on the board of ESN Utrecht, the most frequent response (other than: have fun!) was why? The question has been repeated many times throughout the year, and is there is never a single answer – in fact, there are so many answers, it’s hard to know where to begin. This blog will give 5 reasons to do a board year!
Reason 1: A board year is the perfect balance between being a student and a professional
While your friends are in class, studying in the library or working on assignments because it is required, you are writing your own policies and proposals and setting your own rules together with your fellow board members. As the board, you are in charge of an association, a task which comes with a large amount of responsibility. However, it also allows for the opportunity to put all the experience and theoretical knowledge that you have gained during your studies into practice! At the same time, most of this work – and the huge social side of it – takes place within the Utrecht student life, which is an incredibly dynamic world full of enthusiastic and fun people. There is a huge diversity in the areas which these students are active, yet you will find common ground with pretty much all of them! The social aspect of student life is not lost in a board year, as the board consists of students, there are more than enough opportunities for parties, borrels and other events!
Reason 2: You will boost your network…
Once you are part of any student board in Utrecht, you will find out about an entire subculture that exists within the city’s student life steeped in tradition and possibilities. While everyone else is biking back from the Uithof or still in class, you might be taking part in traditional student events together with other boards such as ‘constitution drinks’, attending official events as a representative of ESN, have meetings with representatives of the University, the municipality or commercial partners, or might be attending one of the many amazing events ESN Utrecht organises. As ESN is a European-wide network, you will also meet many amazing people from other (inter)national ESN sections, in different cities all over Europe. Meeting all these new people will expand your (professional) network massively, and leave you with friends all over the world!
Reason 3: … and your CV!
The great thing about being in a board, is that you are your own boss. Due to this you will gain practical insight into the running of an organisation. As such, you will learn many skills, ranging from working efficiently in a team to managing projects, networking, time management, task division, working with partners, bookkeeping, to (graphic) designing and much more. This will give you a competitive advantage when starting your career, no matter the field.
Reason 4: You add huge value to the student community of Utrecht
I will never forget the first time one of the students that participated in the ESN Introduction Week came up to me and said: “Thank you for organising this amazing week, my start here couldn’t have been better”. As a board member, you work hard throughout the entire year. Receiving recognition like this makes this worth the effort. The recognition isn’t always in the form of a direct ‘thank you’; just seeing the people enjoy your activities is enough, as well as (new) projects and partnerships you successfully create for the benefit of all students in Utrecht, and the friendships you will gain from these events. You may not always notice it during the board year, however everyone who has done one can look back with pride at what they achieved during their year – especially when this is continued and built upon in following years.
Reason 5: It is an amazing experience!
Whether it’s because of your fellow board members, who after a year feel like family, the many skills you learned or the people you met – doing a board year is without a doubt a once in a lifetime experience! If you ask anyone who has done a board year, every single one of them will tell you that it was not only an extremely enriching experience, but also an unforgettable year – possibly the best year of their life.
Did you get inspired into doing a board year, or at least a little bit interested? There are countless opportunities in Utrecht to become part of a board, one of which is the Executive Board of ESN Utrecht. If you enjoy an international atmosphere, the ESN Board is possibly a great choice for you. You can find out more about what it means to become the ESN Board and the application procedure itself right here: https://esn-utrecht.nl/board-application. You can also find out more about ESN Utrecht as an organisation on our website, https://www.esn-utrecht.nl/esn-utrecht. If you have any questions whatsoever about ESN Utrecht or applying for the Board, feel free to contact us! You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, send us a message via Facebook or just drop by the office.
A big thanks to our friends over at ESN Groningen for the blog idea and post. If you are based in Groningen and interested, they are searching for a new board as well!