For many students, their time at Lund University is a crucial period in their lives, when they gain a world-class education that puts them in a good position to have a successful career. Studying at Lund University also provides access to everything student life has to offer in Lund and Helsingborg. A few examples of Lund student life events are the Tandem Relay, the Lund Carnival, innumerable balls (such as the Gustav II Adolf Ball which is Europe’s largest student ball and the next-largest white tie event in the Nordic area, second only to the Nobel Prize dinner).
Year after year, the people who pull together the range of student events and run all the student organisations are the students themselves. Students who, through their commitment, take part in creating, developing and running projects together. Their involvement enables the students to gain innumerable skills in areas such as leadership, marketing, finance, logistics, teamwork, project management, fire safety and creativity.
“ʻIf you can stage-manage a Finn Ball, you can be a purchasing manager for Ericsson’, I was told at my first employment interview – and I got the job. I then worked for 18 years at Ericsson”, says Måns Weimarck, currently organisational development officer at Region Skåne, procurement division.
“My many years of involvement in the student nations did not, in fact, determine whether or not I got a job. However, it did entail a lot of experience which has helped me in my work and thereby benefited my career. One element that is invaluable is the experience of social interaction that you acquire in your encounters with both acquaintances and strangers when you get involved in student life”, explains Håkan Abrahamsson, chair of the municipal council in Perstorp.
One skill that Erik Stenberg acquired from his involvement in student life was crisis management and dealing with setbacks:
“As an accommodation manager for Lund Nation I was once sued, and one morning I had to call 6 different car owners and explain to them that their cars had been crushed by a minor glacier that slid off our roof. (The two events were not connected). It feels completely overwhelming when it happens, you can feel terrible, but you survive. Student life is more forgiving of spectacular failures than professional life. Failing and learning from the experience is an important thing to take with you,” says Erik, currently a project coordinator at Innovation Skåne AB.
Lotta Månsson and Anna Karlsson, who are now respectively the principal of a pre-school and assistant principal at an upper secondary school, say that their time as event managers within student life contributed to their interest in leading and inspiring others.
“Student nation life laid the foundation for many contacts but it was also the start of my own personal development”, adds Lotta.
Personal development was also something experienced by Fredrik Friberg and Dag Oredsson during their involvement in student life.
“I was given responsibility I wasn’t mature enough to take on, but I had to grow up. I had to be on time, convince public officials, manage my duties, purchase things I didn’t even know existed. Today I have my own company with eight employees, and we continue to grow. I currently manage marketing, finance, human resources, purchasing, logistics and a lot more. I acquired the basis for much of this knowledge through the responsibilities I was given and the contacts I established during my involvement in the student nation”, says Fredrik.
“It was thanks to student life that I realised what I wanted to do in the future, without being able to put my finger on it. I was given responsibility, I was part of implementing amazing things, I got lessons in humility and an unshakeable belief that we can achieve anything if we do it together”, says Dag, who is currently communications manager at VA Syd.
“I would assert that the experiences from time in the student nation are invaluable when doing ‘real work’ in a management role. You rarely get other opportunities to acquire practical experience of leadership roles. Without the practical knowledge of finance that I also gained at the nation, I would probably not have my current job. I would probably not have got my first real job at a law practice either without my involvement in student life, as my then manager had a background in the Academic Society”, says Magnus Janghed Askler, who is now credit manager for the south of Sweden at SEB bank.
The ability to be creative is key to student life. Creativity is required for example to bring together a unique and memorable Lund Carnival, to find solutions to problems and to produce material for student cabaret shows.
“I became a cartoonist because of friends I met in the Lundaspexarna student cabaret troupe and after being steeped in Lundensian humour”, says Frida Malmgren, cartoonist for Girls at the Top, a cartoon published weekly in Aftonbladet newspaper.
Student life has also been an invaluable source of friends for life and a broad network that has accompanied many throughout their career.
“Studying enabled me to get involved in Lund Nation, the Academic Society and the Lundaspexarna student cabaret troupe, which gave me the entire platform on which I then built my professional life. Invaluable and absolutely crucial times! In my new job at Visit Lund, I close the circle in a way and will be working with many old contacts from my student days to create new events and activities – as I did during my time as a student. It will be a bit like becoming a student again”, says Per Welinder, the newly appointed CEO of Visit Lund.
“I established invaluable contacts through student life”, observes Emme Adebó, manager of Skåne’s handball association.
“My involvement is the reason why I got the job I am doing today”, says Ylva Lidin, the recently appointed manager of VentureLab.
Text: Fanndis Hermannsdottir, 2020
Photo: Gunnar Menander