Today is Student Society Day.
But is it only about getting free energy drinks, coffee and chocolate? And – if you’re lucky – maybe some good cake or pastries?!
No. And jokes aside: When I started university, I had no idea how many student societies CBS boasts and how being part of one could be helpful.
But after a few months, especially as an international student trying to get a student job and understand Danish culture, it was pretty clear that I should be joining some societies – and quick.
So I did, and I’ll share with you what happened.
But first, what is a student society?
A student society is a bit like the first company you join. Whether it’s about raising funds, managing a team, doing marketing and ‘sales’ when looking for external partners or ‘hiring’ new students, a student organisation has it all.
There are so many of them. Even better, if you think there is one missing, you can start one yourself!
The ‘organisational’ culture of such an organism can differ and many members – past and present – have influence.
However, for many, this is a way of trying out working life in a Danish setting. Not least, it’s very relevant for international students.
I have learned a lot about work culture in Denmark through the different student societies I have belonged to for three years now.
How did this help me?
- I got a relevant student job because of it and some industry experience that helped me a great deal during the interview: my current manager had been part of the same student societies at CBS back when he was a student. We discovered this during the first job interview, so imagine what a nice icebreaker that can be during an interview. You can also be very strategic with your choice of organisations and their alumni networks based on your career plans.
- I gained a network, as cliché as it sounds; even though networking is not everything, well, it’s almost everything and is especially relevant for international students. Having a Copenhagen-based network helps immensely.
And this is not just talk. A simple example: because of it, I have been writing a draft bill in the Romanian Parliament, I have had discussions with C-level members in banks back home and I have spoken to founders looking for funding.
These talks gave me even more industry and sector insight, something I never would have acquired without the people from my network.
I had new friends. I met most of my present Copenhagen friends through the student societies I joined. Good friendships start in moments of adversity. And I can definitely say that organising an event, getting participants and selling your ‘product’ to potential partner companies is not always easy.
I remember being told by a consulting firm during our first call that a few years back they did not have the best experience with us (the society). Try fixing that during a telephone call. But you learn how ;)! And we have a very good partnership with them now.
– You learn that sometimes you have to do tasks yourselves and maybe sometimes they cannot be done. You learn how to ask for help, how to say ‘no’, and most importantly, how to let go, especially when you feel as if you have built or redefined the organisation.
On a personal note, the most important lesson I learned through student societies was how to let go and hand over an organisation that I have believed in so much and done my best to revamp. It’s not easy to see your project being changed from what you wanted it to be.
However, it’s a good lesson to learn early and fast, especially because it’s free and without financial loss with an organisation like this. There will be times in your future career where you will still have to let go, but then probably let go of some millions with it as well.
So: Student Society Day is happening today (15 September 2022), so go, talk with those people, check the organisations’ values and missions, and join if it makes sense to you. And of course, let’s be honest: get their merch, chocolates and energy drinks 😉 They’re for free and for you.