Optometry student, Hajra Sattar, is an example of a student at The University of Manchester who has gone to extra lengths to make herself more employable. As the University’s student representative for the Association of Optometrists, she is responsible for a variety of things including the development of student initiatives within optometry and looking at how the association can better help support optometry students in the UK. Read all about her experiences below…
As the Universities’ student representative for the Association of Optometrists (AOP), I’ve helped the AOP to develop student initiatives and benefits. It’s been a brilliant opportunity to represent my university whilst developing key leadership skills after organising and planning events with the AOP, in order to bring them to my university.
I wanted to become a student rep because I wanted to see the world of optometry outside of university. I wanted to get involved in something other than the optometry clinics at university as we know them. It was also a really good way to meet other students from different universities and make contacts because you never know when it could come in handy! Lastly, I wanted to stand out from my peers when it came to applying for pre-registration jobs and thought this was the perfect way to do it.
The application process was quite straightforward. You have to fill out an application form and if you’re successful in that stage then you are put through to a telephone interview. Most of it is all about demonstrating that you’ve had good organisation skills during your time at university.
Juggling the role with my studies has been challenging at times but being organised and on top of things has definitely helped. I had to make sure I got notes and deadlines done early in order to attend the one or two meetings I’ve had in London but that was only for one week so wasn’t too bad. In terms of advertising and university events, I managed well as my duty as a student rep was never too heavy.
As mentioned, last year I visited the head office in London where I took part in the General Optical council ‘strategic educational review’. It was very insightful to be a part of this as I became involved in the latest and hottest topics in optics, whilst also being able to have my voice heard and relay the opinions of my peers.
In January I was invited to the ‘100% Optical’ event at London Excel. The AOP hosted all the student representative at the biggest optical event of the year. It was a fantastic experience to see all the latest optical technology being showcased, as well as speaking to different clinicians, business owners and industry experts from around the county. This really enhanced my knowledge about treatments that we get taught about in lectures as I was able to see different demos and presentations from the manufacturers and companies themselves. It was an honour to be invited to the awards evening on the final day.
The role has been crucial to my networking and confidence skills. I have met a vast arrange of people from all different parts of the profession who have given me both advice and support. With a good range of extracurricular involvement on my CV, I have been offered a pre-registration year in a London hospital which has always been a big aspiration.
I would say to anyone who wants to become a student rep – don’t hesitate to apply. The reward is so great and the time you put into it isn’t extensive at all, and its also so much fun. I would also say, be prepared to voice your opinion and your peers’ opinion, as this is something that you will be expected to do.