How has my degree in Political Science helped me in my role as VPX?
I am currently in my victory lap of an Honours degree in Political Science and, well, that’s about it. It’s been fun. I’m ready to have my expensive piece of paper, though.
My job is a bit more exciting. I’m the VP External of the Students’ Union and to put it simply, I deal with all student issues that are outside the purview of the University of Alberta. So I focus on things like tuition policy, funding for post-secondary (think operating funding and things like mental health funding), and student financial aid. I know. Awesome stuff. Don’t get too excited.
That is usually the easy part of explaining my job; it gets a bit harder in explaining how the VPX does it. You accomplish these goals and solve issues for students through a) individually lobbying elected officials on all level of government where appropriate, and b) creating a narrative in the public that x student issue is important enough for a change.
We often hear as downtrodden liberal arts students that our “soft skills” are in high demand out in the real world. I can confirm. You know that weird readin’ writin’ ‘rithmetic thing that were the core of your schoolin’? Yeah, they’re pretty important.
I read a lot. You read a lot. I’m surprised you’re actually reading this for pleasure right now. My degree and your degree have taught us about in-depth, analytical reading. Reading that forces you to read a sentence, while thinking about the relationship it has with a previous article or book.
More than anything I read the news regarding post-secondary. I need to read an article and understand the position of the writer, but also how it fits into a larger narrative or discourse in post-secondary policy in the same way as I do for the course I take. If I read an article from UBC on international tuition increases, I need to understand the way in which it was increased, the rationale, and the implications it may have for international tuition regulation coming from the Alberta government.
Seriously. This happens to everyone, ever. Writing a good email is so underrated. I wrote a lot in my degree, I write a lot in my job, ‘nuff said.
Seriously? You think I took math courses? Who do you think I am? Leave all that stuff for your taxes, or whatever.
I think the people that I met in my degree have been and continue to be one of the most beneficial parts of my degree and have been the most influential in my job. The people I have met are amazing even though Poli Sci kids can be stereotyped as an unpleasant bunch of cynical, pre-law, over-opinionated and under-educated, judgmental, over-achieving people. (Sorry, my self-analysis got a bit out of control there).
The thing is, the people that I have taken classes and went through my degree with are people that have helped me become who I am, helped me develop the opinions I hold, and have given me the platform to explore my own ideas. These people along with my professors along the way have given me intellectual confidence, but also kept it in check when it needed to be.
This post was difficult for me to write because I couldn’t nail down specific skills of “things” that I learned I use daily. Instead I would tell you that the experiences I have had during my degree have permeated the way I interact with my work and the work of others. There is no specific skill or factoid, but instead a way of seeing the world and a set of pervious experiences that (hopefully) have made me better in my current job.
If you ever want to hang out just shoot me a Facebook message. It will take me a minimum of three days to respond but I will. If you are interested in the SU or my role in it, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
2015-2016 Students' Union VP External