When I started my studies at Oulu University of Applied Sciences in 2016 and while listening to OSAKO’s presentation on the orientation week, I certainly couldn’t imagine that I would one day still lead the board of this student union. Even when I first time applied as a representative in 2018, I definitely didn’t think my career as a student activist would end up being this long. Now, four years later, so much has happened on this journey, that it is impossible to summarize it all into a single blog post.
However, I have really learned a lot that I would like to share as a last deed for all the students when I leave the board of the student union. Everyone who has ever been a part of a student union board certainly has their own view of the kind of experience and lessons they have learned from this work, but I want to believe that no one has left completely empty handed.
The first, and perhaps most important, lesson I have learned is to trust myself and my own skills. However, the fact that I have learned to trust myself is a lot thanks to other people. When you are entrusted with such a great task as leading the board of the entire student body, at some point I too have been forced to think about the reasons for it. Reflecting on these has increased my self-confidence and also helped me to understand my own skills, which will certainly be useful, for example, in future job interviews.
Of course, successes also increased trusting myself. Whether it’s organizing an opening event of the academic year for 7000 people, together with an awesome team, of course, or helping an individual student buy an OSAKO membership, both have, in their own way, shown what I can do.
At the same time, I have also learned that there is no need to think about yourself as invaluable. If there is so much work on the desk that the surface of it is no longer visible underneath it, it is perfectly permissible to ask others for help. I still have work to do with this skill, but I have already made a lot of progress with it and it’s again all thanks to the board and staff, who have always been ready to help and give me support.
The third thing I will take as an important lesson for the future is how to dare, even if you are nervous or if there’s negative pressure coming from the outside. In May of 2020, I was surprisingly in a situation where I had the opportunity to apply for the position of Chair of the Board. I’m sure I wouldn’t have considered it a few months earlier, but the confidence I gained from others showed that I should dare to do it.
Looking back, I have to admit that the challenges posed by the pandemic also paralyzed me for a moment. However, when we dared to try together completely new things and old things in a new way, nothing was left to be regretted. In the midst of the corona pandemic, we were able to hold safe events for thousands of people without negative consequences, but at the same time also improve our activities online.
A year as Vice Chair of the Representatives, five months as Vice Chair of the Board and 19 months as Chair of the Board have all been an important part of my journey. Of all that, I’ve taken in something that has raised me as a human being. In each role, there have been challenges that at first seemed completely invincible, but everything has worked out just fine in the end. The backpack is now full of lessons and experiences to help guide me on my path in the future.