‘I’m everything from an agony-aunt to a SUSI advisor’ – life as a student representative

Luke Daly has been in office at Blanchardstown Institute of Technology (ITB) as the Vice-President of the Student’s Union since July 2018, after successfully running for office in March. While Mark Doyle has been in office as the Entertainments Officer since July, after winning the vote of his peers in the spring.

What inspired you to run for office as a student representative?

Luke: “I would say I ran for all the wrong reasons really! I didn’t like what was being done within ITB. I ran out of spite to be honest! There is so much happening around health, both mental and sexual, that I wanted to make a change to the approach.

Luke Daly // Reis Caffery

“I am not trying to reinvent the wheel but simply to freshen up what was being done.”

 Mark: “I was inspired after being in the college for the past three years and seeing the things that were being done both right and wrong. I felt I could make a difference to these things from an experienced student’s point of view.”

 What does day-to-day work as a vice-president entail?

Luke: “What doesn’t it entail would be a better question. I am everything from an agony-aunt to a SUSI-advisor! One of the main things is something called case work, which is where I make a file or record of someone with a problem, put simply.

“One evening I might have someone come into the office saying they can’t obtain a SUSI grant because, for example, their parents are separated and they can’t prove they are. The next day someone could walk in and say they are suicidal and can’t cope.

“We have devised a great support system in here though with student welfare, diversity and inclusiveness absolutely paramount. We are organising campaigns such as disability awareness week, and KISS [Keep It Safe and Sexy] week along with the rebranding of our Mental Health week to Health and Wellbeing week, where we are telling people to focus on themselves more rather than telling others to get help.” 

Mark: “Basically I am in charge of both on and off campus social events, such as mystery tours and other fun events such as Blind Dates and Karaoke nights.

“I have to try to create a buzz on campus and give students something to look forward to.”

Do you feel this work can help your future job applications?

Luke: “Well, I don’t know anyone who has been successful in office who has not gone on to do well in their post-academic life. I just completed a business degree and plan to run again next year.

“I also ran a society for three years while in college which can only be good for a C.V. or resume!”

Mark: “I have a lot of experience in the bar industry over the past few years and naturally have a huge interest in social events.

“I hope to finish my business degree and potentially move onto an event management role in the future!”

Mark Doyle// Lauren Yates

How has working as a vice-president shaped your character?

Luke: “That is actually a difficult question to answer. I believe I’ve become more direct! I have a lot of stuff to get done in a short time-frame which has forced me to become more focused and direct in my daily schedule.

“I’ve become more able to talk to strangers and people in general which is a great thing to have as a person. I’m also more mouthy and cheeky! I’m not afraid to ask ‘Why?’ when I am told ‘No’.”

Mark: “I personally struggled with public speaking and presentations and this role has certainly helped improve that over the first few months of working the job.

“Organisation is key to this work so I’ve definitely seen improvements in my own personal organisation skills in my own life.”

What would you say to someone who is considering running for a similar position?

Luke: “You are not paid enough! You have to be willing to put in a 60-hour week without any overtime. You might find yourself cancelling personal appointments for day-to-day workings in the office.

“On the other hand, it is very personally fulfilling. As they say ‘Grab life by the balls!’ I would absolutely encourage someone to go for it.”

Mark: ”I would say that hearing what your fellow students are trying to tell you is essential, but also at the same time sometimes making a decision they may not agree with, but is best for them can be difficult but part of the job.

“It is a job that demands a lot but is ultimately very rewarding.”

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