You get to travel, meet loads of people, get free training and you get an abundance of Friday Night Dinner invites – and you get paid?! Sounds like a dream job, writes UJS President Joe TARSH.[divider]
The Union of Jewish Students has existed for 40 years. Before UJS, there was an ‘Inter-University Federation of Jewish Students’.
Both organisations have been made up of individual campus-based Jewish Societies (J-Socs), providing representation, support, training and fun for young Jewish people as they embark on their university careers.
Jewish Societies have always been ‘run by students, for students’ and so has the ‘Union’ at a higher level too. As a union is its members, the people who are employed to work in the UJS office are essentially just paid members: recent graduates who take on full-time jobs (often for a ‘sabbatical’ year) to keep their union running, functioning and flourishing.
Traditionally the people who worked for UJS were known as ‘Fieldworkers’ and were based on different campuses around the country.
Each Fieldworker looked after Jewish students at the universities in their specific regions. They helped students put on events, organise campaigns, defend themselves against anti-Semitism, and ensure that their needs as Jews were respected and understood by the university authorities and their fellow students.
These days things are a bit different. UJS bases its staff in London and allocates different staff members different campuses to help and support.
There are now three UJS ‘Officers’ who look after different J-Socs: one for the ‘Big 6’ – Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Oxford and Cambridge; one for J-Socs based in London and the South of England (the London and Southern J-Socs Officer); and finally an officer who looks after all the small and medium J-Socs (known as the Developing J-Socs Officer).
Along with the UJS President and Campaigns Director – these five graduates make up the UJS student-facing team.
Being a J-Socs Officer in 2014 involves many things. A central part of the job is travelling from campus to campus to visit the J-Socs they support.
This means getting to know their committees, meeting the members, attending their events and helping them to organise diverse and dynamic things on their campuses.
To ensure that the J-Soc Officers are properly equipped to advise and support the students, they receive regular training – both on how to empower the students they work with to be leaders, as well as specific leadership and professional skills that will help them to flourish as they progress in their careers.
One of the biggest perks of the job is gaining an automatic place on UJIA‘s Lead Now programme. This programme enables participants to develop specific work-based skills through a series of lectures, talks and workshops with top professionals from a variety of industries, as well as a securing a work-placement at a firm or organisation in the field of their choice.
Many former UJS Fieldworkers and J-Soc Officers have gone on to achieve amazing things both within the Jewish community and wider society. There are politicians, lawyers, film-makers, teachers, journalists, fashion brand owners, charity CEOs and much, much more.
Read South coast J-Socs join forces for epic Dinner and Sleepover or check out the rest of our online student coverage.