Apply to be a Student Board Member!
Applications are now open to join the University Co-op Board of Directors as a Student Board Member.
This is a great opportunity to gain real world business experience, develop innovative marketing strategies, advance the educational interests of the University of Texas at Austin, and directly represent the student body.
Each year, two board members are elected to serve a two-year term.
Let's hear from the current 2016-2017 Student Board Members!
What initially made you interested in being a Student Board Member?
Dana: I wanted to represent the student body in a larger scale. I stumbled across a flyer while checking out at the University Co-op. The fact that it was a chance to lead a not-for-profit, multi-million dollar business - how could it not catch my eye?
Cameron: Perry Pickei, a former board member and student of the College of Natural Sciences, initially peaked my interest during a conversation in the Student Government office my sophomore year. I had at least a small interest in the position, but I was incredibly afraid to run my own campaign. In short, Perry obviously convinced me to run.
Dylan: As a freshman, I had a lengthy conversation with Quan Cosby, UT football alumni, and Bill Powers, former UT President, in his office after a ceremony for the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation. We talked about who in the UT community had the most impact, and what organizations and involvement aligned with that as well as my aspirations in the business world. Both agreed and conveyed to me that sitting on the Board of Directors of a multi-million dollar company and advocating for students at the University Co-op was not only a hidden gem, but one of the most powerful and influential positions to hold while in college that would enable me to make my mark with tangible change on the UT community for years to come.
How would you describe your role?
Dana: Student directors represent the UT student body. We provide insight to the University Co-op on the student’s perspective. In addition to this, you would serve on multiple committees that focuses on bettering the strategy and future of the University Co-op. As a second-year student board members get the chance to chair either the Special Requests committee (reviews appropriation applications and designates funding amount to organizations) or the Student Elections committee (liaison for Student Government elections and responsible for recruiting new board members).
Cameron: It may seem immediately apparent, but my role (in addition to that of Madi, Dylan, and Dana) is to provide the student perspective/input on matters that pertain to students. Specifically, this includes our role in appropriating money every semester to student organizations that make an impact on campus and the surrounding community.
Madison: I would describe my role as giving a student’s perspective on array of issues when dealing with a company that mostly caters to the student body.
Dylan: As student board members, we give voice to the “little guys”. In the business world, often the most senior officials are the decision-makers. Though we have board members who hold some of the highest distinctions this university and state has to offer, the Co-op is set up to give their students a say in what we want and what we need.
What do you remember about the first meeting with the board you attended?
Dana: Very intimidating. I sat through the meeting analyzing the culture, background composition, and content of the board. I didn't know where I'd fit in this, but I was thoroughly amazed that I was given the opportunity to be surrounded by industry experts.
Cameron: To be honest, I was rather nervous and confused. I had no idea what to expect. At the same time, it became apparent that this would be a responsibility that entailed lots of learning, something that excited me.
Madison: The first meeting I was shocked to learn that the student board members are a vital part of the board, being 4 out of 11 members, as well as heading two committees and being a part of two other committees. The board genuinely cared about the student opinions and concerns.
Dylan: I knew for a fact that I was way too young to hold such an influence in a company that has been running for well over 100 years. I felt out of place and small, but those around me on the board, my colleagues, gave the warmest and most welcoming arms to hold onto along the way. Soon enough, I was actively participating in our reporting, and in no time I was able to find comfort in my own discomfort of feeling out of place in the beginning
How do you think being a board member has advanced you?
Dana: I am more confident to voice my thoughts amongst any group, regardless of expertise, seniority, etc. It has also expanded my contacts in the Austin and UT faculty community. I have gained experience serving on a Board of Directors, which I hope to be a part of another’s in the future.
Cameron: During my tenure, I had the opportunity to serve on the search committee for our new President and CEO, Cheryl Phifer. During this experience, I had the opportunity to develop my professional skills -- what to look for in the candidates, how a search process for such a highly coveted position operates, what questions to ask, and more. I am incredibly honored to have served in such a capacity, a capacity in which few will ever get to serve. Through this and other activities on the board, I have expanded my contacts in a professional sense. But I have also made new friends, in the student board members, other board members, and other Co-op staff.
Madison: By being on the board I have not only met so many intelligent faculty and business professionals, but I have also gained so much in experience. Sitting on a board that makes decisions from a multi-million dollar company has expanded my knowledge over various aspects of running a company.
Dylan: Just like everything in college, when you join something, it presents new challenges and new relationships. The relationships I have made here have challenged me to look outside of the box, to ask more questions, and it has taught me how to levy professionality with my own personality. The Co-op has catapulted me into various new sectors, such as helping establish a stand alone non-profit with college students which has thrived, to landing internships that may not have been possible it weren’t for my experience on the Board.
Dana and Cameron, since this is your second and last year on the board, what piece of advice do you have for next year’s group?
Dana: Speak up and innovate. The University Co-op is in its early stages of transforming its business structure. This is a great opportunity for next year’s students to have new ideas and set the pace for implementation in order to benefit the UT students for generations to come.
Cameron: Similar to Dana, I would suggest that next year’s group feel comfortable speaking during meetings and offering their input. It may very well seem intimidating amongst a room of accomplished business professionals and professors to do so, but you are there for a reason, and your student opinion is valued.
Madison and Dylan, you still have another year. What do you hope to see in the new members who will be joining you?
Madison: I hope to see diversity in majors and personalities. I think it would be great to have new outlooks that can provide a fresh perspective.
Dylan: I want to see dedication to their university. In college, I have come to live by a motto borrowed by an organization I care about deeply, called Texas Cowboys. The motto is “Give your best to Texas, and the best will come back to you.” I want to see someone who embodies that nature, and who will fully take advantage of the opportunity to be a board member of the University Co-op.
What one trait do you think makes a good board member?
Dana: To be a part of this not-for-profit board, I believe willingness to volunteer is the most important trait. Since the board typically comes together once a month, the more you can contribute, the better the results. You can gain more exposure and knowledge to real, and possibly tough, business situations that can help you further excel in your future career.
Cameron: The ability to think critically and consider the consequences of a decision is something that I believe is very valuable in any position of leadership.
Madison: I believe that being outgoing makes a good member. It sometimes takes a lot to express your opinion as an undergraduate student in a room of highly qualified professionals.
Dylan: A good board member needs to be able to thrive in discomfort. Often times, student board members don’t understand some of the things going on. A good board member will ask questions and take everything in to be able to fully understand, then pass it down to generations to come.
Being a student board member is a once in a lifetime opportunity. If you are interested in applying, download the application and view the requirements here.