Before entering university, my elder sister put so much emphasis on all the wonderful and crazy memories she had made through joining university societies. I thought she was stretching the idea, to make transitioning into university seem more bearable, however, she was painfully correct. If I did not join any societies at City University, my university experience (particularly in the first year) would have been very different, for the worse.
University societies are a great place to find like-minded individuals who congregate together to express their common love and interest over whatever the society is about. That is the amazing part of it; it can be absolutely anything. With freshers fair, you are spoilt for choice by all the possible adventures you can undertake whilst at City – not only to mention all the goodies you get walking through the maze-like stalls.
The three societies that defined my first-year society experiences were the Mountaineering society, the Law Society, the Pro Bono Society; each giving me very different but equally memorable experiences. These societies have collectedly discovered hidden talents, built up my skills for employability, and provided a good networking bubble to build upon from.
I stumbled upon the Mountaineering Society by accident when I made a wrong turn at freshers fair and convinced my friends to sign up. Shortly after we received emails about going rock climbing at the Mile End Climbing Wall and me and my friends saw that as an opportunity we could not pass up. Upon arriving at the place, we were given an induction and the society leaders explained to us the various areas, the climbing techniques, and different types of rock climbing (including bouldering and free solo climbing). Going rock climbing weekly posed as a very good bonding exercise for me and my new friends and also introduced me to a range of new people from different years and courses I would never have met otherwise. Bouldering also taught me endurance and resilience and was a creative way to get a workout in and build on that upper body strength too, help to keep me fit when I could not always go to a gym. This society has taught me various skills and formed new interests which I have even listed on my CV as extracurricular activities. I have spoken about rock climbing in every interview I have had, and the interviewers appeared highly impressed to see skills and interests outside of academics to show a well-rounded individual, helping me achieve internships and work experiences.
The most memorable experience the Pro Bono Society gave me was an organised trip to Thorpe Park’s Fright Night! The majority of those in attendance were other first-year law students so it allowed me to introduce myself to my peers outside of the world of academics and make some new friends! On that trip, I met some extremely talented people, one of whom painted my face into a 3-D skull on the coach ride there as I was not in a costume. These same people I met travelled through the law degree by my side, in my various lectures, tutorials, and elective modules. Trips like this allow you to connect to your peers in a more friendly way, breaking the ice and allowing you to expand your social bubble so you would never feel alone regardless of what tutorial group you are in or whatever elective modules you decide to choose. These are the same people who you study alongside, revise together, and provide general support to. I cannot stress enough how grateful I am that I went on this trip, not only was it an adventurous day out, it allowed me to introduce myself to my fellow freshers in a carefree manner. Nothing breaks the ice and secures lasting friendships like screaming in terror plummeting down roller coasters!
The Law Society has been the most significant society to me. This society has provided various educational sessions, revision groups, and legal lectures with guest speakers. The most notable experience was the annual law ball! This prestigious black-tie event was my favourite moment of first year. From the three-course dinner to dancing away on the dancefloor, followed by an amazing after party; the atmosphere of the night was unearthly. This event takes place at the beginning of April and is a great way to celebrate the end of your academic year before you get to the intense revision for your end of year exams.
Also, I have further had the pleasure of hosting an event with the law society about LawTech. Being given the authority to run an event with the support of the Law Society has benefitted me in various ways. It has allowed me to network effectively and make contacts with partners at prestigious law firms and has provided me with experience to list on my CV, thus making me appeal more to employers and building up my experiences.
Societies are a great addition to university experiences, and I would highly recommend getting as involved as you can! They give you memories you will cherish for the rest of your life in addition to teaching you various skills and enhance your employability. Societies will also allow you to network internally within the university as well as connecting with other professionals throughout the industry. They also allow you to explore new sides to yourself, develop skills, and go through experiences you may not have thought you would do!
Many thanks to Jibraan Chohan, who graduated from the LLB programme at City in July 2020 and is going on to do an LLM LPC. Jibraan says: 'I am happy to be able to share my experiences at City and I hope you find what I have to say beneficial for you and your time here!'