We asked Iskandar Bin Suhaimi to reflect on his time as a Bristol Futures Student Advocate, promoting Bristol Futures and running peer-led workshops and drop-ins for Study Skills and Personal Development Planning (PDP).
One of the best things about being a Bristol Futures Advocate? Feeling like you are truly a part of the University community. Having been in the role for more than two years now (83% of my being a student!), I can confidently say that university was made much better because of this ‘part-time job’. Here are my reflections.
Sitting restlessly with your partner-in-crime hoping for students to attend your drop-ins, trying your best to dispel the awkward silences during workshops, or even talking about your cats during monthly trainings. The little things I went through as an Advocate created experiences only the Bristol Futures team understood.
It also always excited me how closely I was working with university staff, especially the Study Skills team. Primarily, it helped me make sense of my student experience. The university was suddenly not just a bureaucratic entity you complain about on Bristruths, it’s filled with real, genuine people, working as hard at their job as me and you.
As an international student, being a part of such an inspiring and supportive team was truly invaluable. Being in a new country with a vastly different culture, developing camaraderie with the diverse team at Bristol Futures really provided me with the familiarity I needed to feel included and welcomed at Bristol. I felt, happily, part of the community.
One of the most memorable Advocate experiences was when Simon [Gamble, Head of Academic Study Skills] drove me and two other Advocates to a little farm in Chew Valley for a workshop presentation. Free cakes and coffee aside, the experience was particularly enjoyable because we got to engage with the wider community and appreciate the extent of our impact
I also particularly enjoyed manning the Bristol Futures booth at the Staff Welcome Fair. Instead of pitching our services to students, we were promoting it to new staff instead. Did I feel like an adult? You bet.
If there was one thing these opportunities taught me, it was definitely the importance of versatility in communication. Fun as they were, these experiences taught me how to adapt my conversations to different groups of people – and my confidence is all the better for it.
Perhaps the main thing that drove me as an Advocate was the fulfilment I got from helping other students. Being an Advocate truly meant understanding and empathising with students’ concerns, and doing our best to help them. No matter what school, degree, or study level, if we could provide assistance, we would.
Consequently, I did not only grow as an employee, I also grew as a person. I think my fellow Advocates can attest to the satisfaction of making things just a bit easier for students. It’s the reason why I joined Bristol Futures, and it’s the reason why I stayed.