Everything you need to know about working in, being an officer in or being involved with students' unions.

Changing sectors

As described across this website the students’ unions are quite unique in how they operate, govern themselves, aim to achieve and then deliver their services and support.

For someone looking at the SU sector as a possible career destination, the knowledge found in this site can help you decide if the sector could be right for them or not. What are the elements of SUs that you would thrive in and enjoy? Are there any elements that would drive you crazy or you see as less important or you feel would be a distraction from other working areas?

For those who have led on recruiting staff from outside the sector we have received often common feedback. These may be read almost as pros and cons of the sector:

  • Candidates do not always grasp the importance of student leadership in SUs. In fact successful staff relish working with officers and the changing teams each year seeing it as a benefit of working in this environment. Ultimately the face of any SU is the officer team, with the management and staff supporting them, this is unlike the dynamics of senior leadership in other sectors.
  • While SUs are not always large organisations in terms of revenue, their reach and influence can be significant and their range of services extensive and varied requiring management to be adept at coping with differing demands. Often third sector candidates come from organisations where their skills, knowledge and experience whilst often very significant in scale or importance can also be quite narrow in comparison.
  • Often there can be good current and historical relationships between staff and officers, but this cannot be taken for granted, but can have great effect on success and satisfaction within an SU role.
  • Students forming  a SUs membership, are effectively the beneficiaries of the output of a union could arguably be seen as already being in positive situations in comparison with society as a whole. For some candidates coming from high importance service delivery support service organisations they might question their own personal commitment to the membership and audience in a SU.
  • Partnerships and working relationships are key to successful SUs and again need to be relished for any staff role to be successfully fulfilled. Skills and abilities to make the best of these relationships need to be significant in any SU role relative to other settings.