We caught up with our outgoing Arts and Media Sabbatical Officer, Megan, to chat about what she’ll miss about working at USSU, COVID challenges, and what she’s up to next.
I: Could you tell us the top three things you’re proudest of having made progress on during your time as Arts and Media Officer? How do they relate to your original manifesto?
MH: So, I would say that my two biggest focuses this year were Housing and Industry as they were the main points on my manifesto.
I’d say my top three would be the Housing Fair that I ran last semester, the Housing Guide that I made (it’s still available online on the SU website!) and securing the National Student Radio Conference 2020.
The Housing Fair was the first thing I did as an officer that was entirely my responsibility, and I’m really proud of how it turned out – students were able to chat to local, trusted accommodation providers as well as to people like Salford City Council and Housing Hand, who both offer support related to student housing! It was also the launch for the Housing Guide and I’m really glad that there is a physical guide that students can pick up and look through for when they’re thinking about housing. Its content was based off a workshop I did with a bunch of students in September, and I’m really glad that those students were able to pass on their wisdom and top tips to first years!
Industry was my other focus, and I had some exciting plans that unfortunately COVID cancelled. The main one being SRACon20 – I’d spent most of the year putting things into place and assisting the Student Radio Association in hosting their annual conference at our campus with Shock Radio. Normally it’s three days of broadcast media talks, training and an awards ceremony! It would’ve been a huge achievement for me had it gone ahead.
I: To follow on from that, COVID-19 has forced us all to adapt very quickly to a new way of working. I was wondering if you, personally and in your capacity as Arts and Media officer, had faced any particular challenges? How did you overcome these, and what advice would you give to students who may be feeling overwhelmed or unmotivated right now?
MH: Oooft lots of challenges! Working from home is a weird one for me because I adore the office environment and miss my desk pal/fellow officer Temi very much. I live alone, which up until lockdown wasn’t an issue, I loved having my own space. Eleven weeks later and I do not love having my own space. I’d love to have someone to argue with over not taking their washing out the machine or why I haven’t done my dishes right now!
Friends have been an absolute savior for me during all of this, so video calls and games nights are a must if you need to chill out! We often join a group call then let someone stream JackBox or play online Pictionary on Scribbl.io.
I: You’ve worked on so many great projects during your time as a Sabbatical Officer – for example, helping out with events and even producing your own podcast! I was wondering whether you might be able to tell me a little bit about some of them?
MH: Working on some of our commercial events this year has been a fantastic experience for me. A highlight was getting to be the Artist Liaison for our Welcome Week finale at the O2 Ritz and working with Scouting For Girls! That was a tad surreal! Then as the year went on, getting more experience and more responsibility for some of our on-site events in Semester 2 like Take Me Out and REC Night. When I was a student, I used to be an Events Assistant for the SU and would decorate venues, flyer for events and be on the doors for them, so it really felt like closure and things coming full circle to get to help run them! The AKB team are just the greatest and work so hard on delivering incredible, unforgettable nights for students and it was a privilege to be a part of it.
I: What advice would you give to Arts and Media students who would like to go into a creative field but may be anxious about their prospects due to COVID?
MH: Well, for a start, I am in the exact same boat as them! I graduated from TV and Radio a year ago and now am somewhat facing the “real world”. For this year’s graduates, I have been working with The School of Arts and Media to secure further support for them, as I know many students have had a lot of opportunities taken away from them due to COVID. So for a start, I would say keep in touch with your tutors! Salford is fantastic for having industry professionals for lecturers- so use them! I’m also hoping that the School of Arts and Media commits to facilitating what is needed for graduates to improve their showreels and portfolios in order to feel empowered about entering the Creative industries! It is daunting, I know, but you’ve worked hard on getting this far, you’ll have the skills to achieve! But also, there’s no rush, everyone has their own journeys and as someone that’s about to move back home and in with their parents, I know it’s challenging right now. Just try and save up some money, see if there’s any freelancing/projects you can work on from home, and start writing treatments and pitches!
I: What will you miss most about being an officer?
MH: Absolutely everything, ok not everything, there’s a few tedious long meetings that I’ll be glad to see that back of, but besides that, it’s a pretty sweet job.
I re-named myself the Arts and Crafts Officer because I found myself holding a paint brush or a craft knife more times that I had imagined this year. From making protest signs, to REC night decorations (I spent hours cutting out cardboard TVs to match the theme!) I am probably going to miss all of the little fun bits that come with being a part of the USSU team! Oh – also the free Domino’s pizza at the Freshers fair!
Besides that, probably the team – not just the other officers but the whole USSU staff team. They’re all flipping incredible and I’m sad that I won’t get to have one last morning coffee with them!
I: Last question – what are your plans going forward? How are you planning on building on the skills you learned as a Sabbatical officer? (This is in no way pressure to have a concrete plan; life is strange and the unexpected often happens.)
MH: Hahahahahaha who knows? The career goal is radio/comedy so I’ll be happy if I end up in either of those industries! I think I’ve gained a lot of confidence and leadership skills being an officer and feel empowered to engage in high responsibility situations.
I might do a masters, might just give it all up and become a farmer, but I really don’t trust myself to be driving a tractor, so I’ll probably stick with radio if I can!
I’ve had a bit of fun in lockdown producing USSU’s first ever podcast Isolated Extroverts (give us a listen on Spotify/Apple) so that’s something I’ll be able to take with me!