'It Was a Kaleidoscope of Emotions'—Daria Shturma on Organising Events for SDS, Curatorship and Friendship
A graduate of the Bachelor's programme 'International Business and Management', Daria Shturma, managed to try herself in various aspects of extracurricular life over four years of studies. She organised lots of events, was a curator for first-years, a host for several Doors Open Days and the SEM Ball. We talked to Daria about interesting stories from the life of an organiser, a new event of management curators and friendship.
I knew that there is a different approach to studies
At school, I was studying in a basic HSE class where they were preparing us for enrolment. The class appeared thanks to our principal who got a master's degree at HSE University. He liked the educational system there and tried to implement it at our school. It was very fun: we had lessons with lecturers from various universities and companies and classes with mentors. There were lots of field events which was very similar to extracurricular life at HSE University. All these things were the reason why I chose HSE University—I knew that there was a different approach to studies.
Like many high school students, I didn't fully understand what I wanted from my life and career. Management seemed a rather applied and cross-functional direction which is why I chose the Bachelor's programme 'International Business and Management' (now you can apply for the programme 'International Bachelor’s in Business and Economics'.—ed. note). Now, I am completing my fourth year, and I can definitely say that all my expectations are met. I liked the educational format—we had to do a lot ourselves. The university gives you a vector but later on, you have to find approaches to tasks and materials yourself. They teach you how to study—it seems to me that it is the main skill you can gain at a university.
Almost in every course, we had group projects and presentations. This is a very important skill as our future career is related to communication and team management. Besides, I liked that except for theory, we discussed a lot of cases using examples of real companies. It is also great as when you get into the career environment, you are not overwhelmed—you have already seen it, and you know how to deal with it.
I also had a minor course on creative industries. Creative direction is where I want to develop professionally in. That is why I saw an opportunity for growth in this minor—and so it proved to be. One of the parts of this two-year course was devoted to event management. On the one hand, my experience in event organisation came in handy for home assignments. On the other hand, I managed to work with people with different backgrounds—the minor was attended by students of various programmes. It seems to me that such diversity is important as various points of view improve any product.
Over four years, I have organised each event of SDS at least once
At school, I liked taking part in extracurricular activities: I was a school president and organised events and the Farewell Bell. So I knew: if there was something similar at a university, I would be eager to have a hand in it. I fell in love with the extracurricular activities thanks to the first events—a road trip for first-years and a quest around the city prepared by curators. Then, I happened to attend the School for Activists by SDS (SDS is an organisation 'Students for Students' which arranges extracurricular events for HSE students—ed. note)—this is an event where students have an opportunity to dive into HSE extracurricular activities and take over the experience of those who have been engaged in them for a long time. SDS held a three-day trip where they organised lectures on event management, and we presented different projects—it was a kaleidoscope of emotions and an opportunity to show ourselves off and meet new people. This is how I joined SDS and a year later organised, and still organise the School for Activists every year.
Over four years, I organised each event of SDS at least once: quizzes, Ice-HSE, Schools for Activists, and road trips. It is hard to choose a favourite event—they are all different, interesting in their own way and useful in terms of organisational experience. But perhaps, I remember the first event the most—the quiz 'Elementary' in 2019. I was excited to organise it. I had to overcome my fears about everything going wrong or everyone disliking the event. It was the School for Activists which helped me to cope with these worries—I received feedback from professionals and understood that I had something to benefit SDS.
Often, interesting stories are related to a platform or contractors. Sometimes, we, students, work more professionally than people who have been in the event market for a long time. We always negotiate that we need some time for arrangements before an event but then, we find out that they leave us only an hour for it. For instance, such was the case with Ice-HSE this year. The event's theme was extra-terrestrial, and we had large-scale decorations: posters, balls, and the Moon of papier-mâché. As a result, the platform representatives gave us only an hour for all arrangements and also forbade us to use double-sided tape. Someone from the organisational team went to the closest store and bought office gum. Then, in the last ten minutes, we had to hang decorations at a breakneck pace. The life of an organiser is full of such situations. The most important thing is to learn how to manage such issues and rely on your team.
I hosted a great number of events—Doors Open Days at SEM, quizzes, and trips. I was worried at first: what if I forget the words or say something wrong? But everything comes with experience—with time, you get used to constantly playing by ear and keeping in touch with your co-presenter. The main thing is not to be afraid and continue doing what you like. I have an example: last year, I did not pass the selection to be a host at the SEM Ball. I was really upset about it. This year, I tried again but I had more advanced skills, and they chose me! For me, this story proves that there is always room for improvement. In every sphere, you have to develop yourself constantly.
In my head, I had no doubts about curatorship
In the first year, I looked up to my curators, they were my role models: wow, they are so cool, they help us so much! I realised that I would like to contribute to the curators’ community and become a role model for others. So I did not doubt curatorship—of course, I'll do it twice!
The period when I was a curator happened during the most severe pandemic regulations. It was a real challenge—we seemed to have a clear plan from our curators but under the new circumstances, we had to adapt. For many events, we came up with online formats: this is how we created an analogue of an introductory event for different faculties—'See Who We Are'. The difference is that students did not create sketches but videos—recorded them in different cities and even countries. We watched the videos during the Zoom call. Everyone liked the event so much that it has become a separate event and since then, the curators have organised it offline. It is a very great feeling—to create an event which became a part of the SEM curators' history.
Even if it seems like fooling around—it is not
Even if you think that you just fooling around and doing nothing serious—you are not. Extracurricular activities allow you to learn yourself and get hard knocks. It is an important process—it is not like when you are given a manual and you follow it, but when you learn how to draw up plans for expenditures and communicate with contractors and large partners on your own. Of course, senior students will help and guide you but you have to cope with many things yourself. It is an amazing opportunity to gain practical skills which you can include in your resume later. You become a great specialist without even noticing.
For other students, extracurricular activities are an amazing opportunity to take a break from their studies. You are bogged down in deadlines and do not know how to take a breath, and suddenly, curators organise a hike or SEM invites you to the Ball. You immediately realise—finally, I will have a rest and see my friends.
These are very valuable connections for me
During university studies, there is a clear social circle of your groupmates who you see every day. You are linked to them with an educational track, but to the people from extracurricular activities—with interests and creative things. Different faculties are like different countries: everyone has their peculiarities and features, and an approach to work, it toughens you up. Thanks to extracurricular activities, I made a lot of friends. For instance, at the School for Activists, when I was a first-year, I met my best friends who I am still communicating with and dealing with all these together. I hope that after graduation, we will still be friends with everyone—these are very valuable connections for me.
Graduating is rather sad for me as university life is a different world. In four university years, we fully change: if you compare me in the first year and now, you will see two different people. HSE University gave me an opportunity for such growth: extracurricular activities, communication with interesting people, and practical skills. Here, you can try yourself in different directions—it gave me an idea of what sphere I want to work in, and what team is the most comfortable for me. I am sure that even years later, I will still remember sleepless nights spent preparing for events, pleasant fatigue after them, emotions from the meetings with teams and the fact that everything worked out!