Helena Baker

Helena Baker

Helena Baker, new J-Soc Officer for London and the South East, reveals why her student days weren’t all they were cracked up to be. After three years of student loans, stressful exams and of course, J-Soc, she’s delighted to have started work at UJS.

I decided to join UJS was because while I did not love University life, I did love J-Soc. I was what you would call a ‘keeno’ – although I wear this title with pride.

I went to Durham, a University with a small Jewish community. That was precisely why I chose it; after a lifetime in Jewish education I wanted to spread my wings.

Those wings, of course, found me right back at the Freshers stall for J-Soc and I never looked back. In my second year, I was elected President and I loved organising events, welcoming people and even trying to reach out to the wider student community. In a University where there aren’t many Jews, J-Soc really did feel like a second home. 

Being President allowed me to avoid everything I did not enjoy about being a student. Whilst I know there are those of you whom relished never getting dressed in the morning, watching Jeremy Kyle every day and living off heavy carbs and cheap alcohol; I am afraid I cannot join in the nostalgic refrain of the student days being the best of my life.

I was bored and poor and spent every Pesach stressed about exams, without even having the recourse of yummy junk food. (FYI: there is such a thing as too much chocolate covered matza, and it’s after about two sheets.)

As most of you threw your hats in the air at graduation with fear in your hearts about ‘the real world’ – and hoping that the picture would be flattering enough for a cover photo on Facebook – I felt relief and exuberance knowing I would finally be earning money and quite frankly, at having a reason to get dressed in the morning.

I was officially joining the working world. It is, of course, somewhat ironic that I am now working for UJS and whilst I am leaving the student world, my job, by definition will mean I am intrinsically linked to the student community. 

Nonetheless, I am very excited to begin working with Jewish Societies. Students often find themselves with lots of time  – History students, I’m looking at you with your 5 contact hours a week – and are thus often searching for something to get involved with, be passionate about and to be proud of. 

J-Soc is not only great CV filler, but if you reach the highest echelons of keenness (which is not an easy feat) it’s an activity that could lead to a job on the UJS team when you graduate. It’s also a space in which you might genuinely find yourself – without spending thousands of pounds on a ‘gap yah’ in Thailand.

For the future budding leaders of the Jewish community, the aspiring workers at *insert big financial corporation here* or the hopeful politicos amongst you,  J-Soc can be a place to explore and develop your skills, whether on committee or through the links built at UJS.

It is also a place to meet new friends and explore what your Jewish identity means to you. Also, and perhaps most importantly, it is a place to get good Kosher Food. So, get involved! 

If you want to find out more about J-Soc email me at helenab@ujs.org.uk or tweet me at @Helena_ujsI have recently discovered Twitter and I am rather enjoying using hashtags!