Being a student leader in the CÉIM peer learning programme was a very positive experience and one of the best things I did while studying at NUI Galway. I would definitely say I got more out of this role than I put in. First you meet the most wonderful people, from people with similar goals and interests to people with very different ones. You meet people in your class you’ve never seen before – which is a blessing in classes with over 100 people. You meet regularly with academics. If you haven’t engaged with academic staff before it definitely makes them seem much more approachable.
As a leader, you get huge rewards – you can visibly see that you are making a difference to the lives of first year students. It’s a safe place where first year students can come to get information they might be afraid to ask their lecturers or even their friends and it’s never just one person that has that question. Every week you can see students leave the room a little bit more relaxed. Sometimes students just need an hour to have a chat with others in their course and go over essay tips – or thrash out the complexities of referencing. It is also very rewarding to watch the group settle into life at NUI Galway and finally understand something they’ve been struggling with!
The CÉIM leader training is really comprehensive and it sets you up – not just for being a CÉIM leader, but also for any other leadership roles you decide to undertake. The sheer amount of skills you gain is immense. You learn how to facilitate and lead sessions for both small and large groups of people. You also develop other skills that look great on your CV. These include problem solving as you learn how to think quickly on your feet, organizational skills, and communication skills. You’ll find that you gain confidence in communicating with all sorts of people, from first year students and your fellow leaders – to academics and Students’ Union staff. Not only do you gain these skills – you also learn how to highlight them in your CV in a practical and professional manner.
If you’re thinking of applying – my advice as a previous CÉIM leader is to do it! You get so much out of it – new friends, a rewarding was to volunteer your time, and an abundance of new skills.