When our lecturers first suggested in class how great it would be if students set up a Psychology/Sociology Society, you could literally feel that silence in the lecture hall: every student was suddenly trying to make themselves invisible. Sure, it seemed like a great idea but it also sounded like a lot of work on top of our studies. As first years, the whole going to university thing was scary enough.  Also, none of us knew how all that society stuff even worked. So, during our first year we all ended up focusing on making new friends, getting used to the workload, and trying to not break out into cold sweat when someone mentioned a new coursework submission date.

Fast forward to the beginning of second year, and the whole idea of setting up a society did not sound as scary. In fact, it seemed rather interesting. Like a very manageable little challenge! Right? Fran began to play with the idea and it started to grow on her. It would be a great opportunity to get to know students from all years; a way to be amongst likeminded people, have fun and explore areas of psychology that were not necessarily present in the curriculum.  But most importantly, we thought that, through a society, we could help each other out or just moan together about word counts, deadlines etc.

It turned out that quite a few of us shared Fran’s motivation to get something going in that direction, including me. Encouraged by the feedback she received, she emailed the Students’ Union (who support societies), asked interested students if they were still on board and got the ball rolling.

Admittedly, there was more paperwork than we anticipated. How much money would we need? What exactly were our aims and ambitions? What sort of fundraisers were we going to organise and how would it actually work out with all the other events on campus? Would people actually attend? The list of questions and doubts went on and on. Nonetheless enthusiastic, we contacted different professionals/organisations from the “real world”, but to our disappointment no one was overly excited at the prospect of coming to talk to a bunch of university students about their field of psychology.

Undeterred, we were determined to push through. Our lecturers were incredibly supportive and helped us getting in touch with some guest speakers on very interesting topics. In addition, the Students’ Union had our back and assisted us out where they could. We organised debate meetings, and had some talks on the many volunteering and paid job opportunities that are out there. We even were lucky enough to have the QMU Careers team give a presentation shedding a little light on what actually happens to us once we hold a degree in our hands. It was great to see how many valuable resources are accessible at QMU if one takes a little time to get involved and embrace the University as a whole, and not just certain aspects of it.

The first year of managing the society was a slightly chaotic mix between figuring things out, celebrating small successes (such as people actually attending events!) and learning how to effectively communicate within the committee. In hindsight, it’s clear that a lot of the issues we had at the beginning could have been easily resolved with proper communication and a bit of honesty with ourselves in terms of realistic expectations. Nevertheless, not only did we get an events programme off the ground, we somehow managed to hold two successful fundraisers and received a lot of useful feedback that means we are well set for year two of the society.

We learnt a lot from this experience and the learning continues. Come join us, we are always happy to see new faces and hear about ideas on what you would like to see from the society.

If you are Psychology/Sociology student, you can contact the Society at PsychSoc@qmu.ac.uk or follow it on social media (@QMUPsychSocSociety). If you were a student in another area thinking of setting up a society, we would thoroughly recommend it as a way of bringing together people and resources, and for the satisfaction (not just the headaches).


Jacqueline Ackermann and Franziska Karthaus

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