Of Leadership and (Female) Innovation.

This morning I am sitting in front of a living room window in my house, and thanks to the recent rain everything looks startling green – Autumn is certainly with us now. With that seasonal realisation comes an academic one: week Five of the first semester of my final year at university commenced yesterday, and quite frankly I cannot believe how quickly the weeks have flown in.

However am I on Week Five already? It seems as though it was only last week that I was tackling online registration, or eagerly downloading my all my syllabuses for the semester. I can still recall happily leaving the local independent bookshop near my university campus, with a bag of new textbooks in hand. Dear goodness – we are five weeks into this semester, meaning that the countdown until its conclusion and subsequent coursework deadlines draws nearer. I have certainly noticed an increase in essential and recommended reading, and I find myself in the university library more often than not. (Not to mention I frequently find myself telling off the computers when my printing requests are not sent along to the printers. Or when I mutter under my breath in exasperation at the top-up machine, when it refuses to consume the notes I offer up to it – it does prefer English banknotes.)

But there we have it. Time is marching on, and apart from the work and effort I put in for my modules, there are other tasks demanding my attention, namely my student organisations and EU Studies Fair Ambassador role. These roles and responsibilities may result in me sacrificing lie-ins and days-off to travel into Belfast for meetings and research, but they are so worthwhile. Volunteering, working with others in a committee and engaging with the student body on campus… Such enriching experiences which provide me with many skills and memories of my time at university.

Cue this post: yesterday was a continuation of my Birthday, complete with presents for all intents and purposes, due to exciting news I received via email.

I recently applied for two programmes at my university: the Inspiring Leaders programme via SU Volunteering, and the InnovateHer programme ran by the SU Enterprise team. After submitting my applications for these programmes – which I shall elaborate on shortly – I was resigned to playing the waiting game. But that ended yesterday, when I received not one congratulatory email, but two – I had been accepted for both programmes. Thus I am over the proverbial moon, and galaxies too.

The Inspiring Leaders programme has been developed by Queen’s SU, and is supported by the William J. Clinton Leadership Institute and Careers, Employability and Skills department. The programme seeks to support current student volunteers in positions of leadership and aims to support the selected participants by increasing their understanding of themselves as a leader, to strengthen leadership skills, to enhance their personal development and increase their ability to lead others. Furthermore, the programme aims to demonstrate to the participants how to translate their volunteering and leadership experiences into employability skills and understand how these skills assist in the workplace upon their graduate entry.

To lead is to inspire, and to inspire is to lead!
To lead is to inspire, and to inspire is to lead!

I felt compelled to apply to this unique and rewarding interactive programme as I enjoy participating on campus life, working with others to secure a common goal and giving back to the community. Volunteering and leading have been highlights of my time at Queen’s, and I believe that to volunteer is to serve the community. I believe a leader is someone who leads by example, someone who understands their team, how each member contributes and what motivates them. I feel that to lead is not merely to manage, as a leader needs to encourage. Therefore a leader works for the team, and is ultimately responsible for them. I view my volunteer roles as more than positions of responsibility, but as an honour which I must work diligently for to continue to hold. I want to ensure I understand what it means to be a leader, understand the different styles of leadership and identify who I am as a leader. This is important as seeing how I desire to work in the legal profession, I will have to be prepared to lead teams or motivate others. Failure to do so effectively could negatively affect the client I serve.

As I stated in my application:

In sum: I would like to learn how best to work alongside others and lead in a way that motivates all to participate because they want to. I want to be challenged, and learn to step outside my comfort zone so that I know how to motivate others to do the same. I would like to learn alongside my fellow aspiring leaders, and from them.

I am thrilled that I was selected to participate, and I cannot wait to commence the weekend programme.

The InnovateHer programme is organised by the SU Enterprise department and is unique in that it is for female students only. It aims to assist 25 business and entrepreneurial minded female students who want to learn more about this line of work, providing practical assistance and support through interactive seminars and workshops.

The programme will enhance business and professional skills such as communication, negotiation, innovative thinking, presentation, and the ability to work within teams. Furthermore, it provides an exclusive access to successful female entrepreneurs with whom we can network with, and learn about how to stand out in a male-dominated field. It will also allow the participants to gain a knowledge and understanding of the practical business field, through providing training in how to write a business plan, how to undertake market research, how to market products and understand the vital role of PR. It will also provide training in understanding both the financial and legal aspects of business.

QUBSU Enterprise Innovateher

I desired to join this programme as I am interested in the world of enterprise and business, more specifically because I seek to work in the competitive legal profession, in which law graduates especially must become more entrepreneurial in order to be both employable and to be employed. My ideal job would be to work in a legal advisory capacity, so I will essentially work for myself and thus will need to understand how a business works and how to ensure it is successful and can grow in time. The programme will provide me with key skills and enhance that all-important commercial awareness. I cannot wait to commence participating in this programme; I feel that it will be exciting and challenging and will offer me the chance to explore what I am capable of.

I would like to conclude this post by urging any students to consider participating with student organisations and campus life. Moreover, always put yourself out there. Be willing to challenge yourself through different programmes and experiences, because the benefits of doing so are marvellous and will truly stand you in good stead. University is a verifiable treasure trove of opportunities, but you must actively go out and search for them. Trust me: you will be grateful that you did.

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