Sat snugly in the largest leather arm chair the Hidden Café has to offer, I arrive to meet Mathea Armsden; who, surprisingly, does not have the highly strung persona of someone who bears the responsibility of Leeds' only career-focused society upon her shoulders. Mathea is president of Leeds Bright Futures society, a national organisation that has societies at over 45 universities and helps make students more employable. Through a combination of skill-building and endless opportunities to network with some of the UK’s biggest employers on a one-to-one basis, Bright Futures is there to help you. So, with recruiters from the likes of PwC and Deloitte in her phonebook, Her Campus Leeds came to find out why Mathea and her iPhone are a force to be reckoned with.
So tell me a little bit about yourself? What are you studying here at Leeds?
I’m studying Politics and Economics. I’d say I’m outgoing, bubbly and loud! I enjoy sport and play netball for Politics as well as going to the gym if I have any spare time! Last summer I volunteered in Uganda as part of the Leeds RAG project which was amazing and I made some really good friends there. I’m in second year right now and I’m looking at doing a year abroad in America or Australia hopefully.
How do you have any spare time?
It’s all about being organised but I’m the first to admit I’m not organised! It’s important not to commit yourself too much. I have a good committee. You have to try and learn not do everything yourself and to instil trust in other people. You can’t have all work and no play! I’m a strong believer that if you commit all your time to something you’ll end up resenting it. I have a diary, but I am a big procrastinator.
How did you first get involved with Bright Futures?
On Facebook! Basically they had a profile and added people in the business school, I just messaged someone about it because I thought it looked like a really good opportunity!
What does your role as president involve?
I’m going be honest, it’s quite a lot of work . There’s a bit of an art to getting hold of people and pestering them. Obviously I oversee all events whether they’re with the union, clients or members. I’m also responsible for being innovative in thinking of new ideas for events. We have specific committee members for different tasks but I dip into everything. I’m also the first port of call if anything was to happen.
Tell us about some exciting things you’ve been involved with as president of the society?
At the beginning of the year I went to the national conference with all the committees from around the UK. This year it was held at the Linklaters head office in London. In the afternoon all of our clients came along and we were able to have a chat with them. You also get free lunch, which is always bonus! Every year there’s an awards dinner in April time, which is fun as you get the chance to bond with all the other Bright Futures' committees.
Do you find it quite demanding?
When we have a big event on I do have a lot work but you get a lot back. You only get out of it what you put into it, so I’d rather slave my guts out and make it a success instead of it being a half-hearted effort. My iPhone helps me no end, it’s my saving grace if I’m honest! I have emails, the Bright Futures' twitter account, and the website all linked up to it. I try and set aside a bit of time each week, I have a break on a Monday and that’s when I will go through all the emails.
What clients have you had the opportunity to network with?
Being president I get to talk to recruiters all the time, instead of just going to them as a student wanting advice. So if it came to getting a job, I could be interviewed by someone I’ve met like 10 times before! I’ve been on the phone to Tesco graduate recruiters and others like Deloitte and Linklaters. As long as you’re building up rapport with clients it can only be good for you. Last semester we had an informal dinner event with Deloitte. I mean you never really expect to sit with graduate recruiters from Deloitte at Pizza Express over a glass of wine!
Are there any success stories to come out of the society?
Nationally last year 60% of the committee members had a graduate job before they finished university. Also, one of our own committee members has just secured an internship at Ernst & Young for next year, which is really amazing!
What do you hope to do with your degree or as a result of being part of Bright Futures?
I’m kind of having a bit of a tossup at the moment. Part of me wants to work in the city in finance, but then Teach First is one of our clients, and since working with them I’ve become interested in what they can offer. I feel a bit bad as I’m trying to give people advice and I don’t actually know what I want to do myself!
What does the social side of the society involve?
We had a pizza night at the welcome event and it’s something we’re looking at doing more but at the moment we aren’t very big! If our society gets bigger we’d like to expand to sports teams next year. However, what we don’t want is for the society to become cliquey!
Thanks for your time Mathea! Is there anything you’d like to add to leave our readers on?
On the 28th November Tesco are putting on a ‘Bright Futures does the Apprentice’ event here at university. The idea is to be put into teams to design a product and come up with the finances, how it will be marketed, etc. and then pitch it to the recruiters. The winning team will get £100 Tesco vouchers per person and the chance to network with Tesco graduate recruiters! We’re also holding an insight day with PwC and York University on the 21st November in Leeds, and we’ll be visiting the Christmas market together afterwards for some informal bonding!
If you want to know more about how to get involved or want more information on any Bright Futures events then follow the links below: