International Interns Flock to Israel

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Masa Israel Journey Reports 100% Increase in Internship Placements Since 2009

Israel is not a place where interns are given ‘grunt’ work just to keep them busy.

As Israel continues to solidify its reputation as the world’s “Start-Up Nation,” newly-minted graduates are beginning to take notice. Participation in the various internship programs offered by Masa Israel Journey, a joint initiative of The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Government of Israel, has more than doubled since its inception four years ago.

Masa enables young Jewish adults between the ages of 18 and 30 to spend between five and 10 months interning, studying, training and volunteering in Israel. While there, participants immerse themselves in Israeli culture and daily interactions with their Israeli peers, employers and coworkers. In 2013 alone, close to 500 young adults from around the world will be interning in Israel through Masa and will receive generous financial support, housing and recreational opportunities.

Several factors have contributed to the uptick in the number of young adults choosing to intern in Israel, chief among them: the global slowdown in hiring and fierce competition for entry-level positions. By gaining international work experience, young graduates can separate themselves from the pack. Secondly, Israel – with its dynamic high-tech sector and innovative in digital media, green energy and biotech – is regarded as a choice destination. In fact, Career Israel (one of the Masa-supported internship programs) routinely places interns at established companies like Google and Citi or at start-ups like AnyClip, Tzunami, MediTrac or Pythagoras Solar.

Another reason why internships in Israel are becoming increasingly popular is that interns in Israel are expected and encouraged to take initiative and to think of themselves as ‘part of the team,’ not merely there to make coffee or Xerox copies.

“We want our interns to get to know the Israeli business atmosphere, to go to meetings, to go to events and to network,” said Elad Cohen Toren, Chief Business Development Officer at Star Tau, an entrepreneurship consultancy at Tel Aviv University. “We want them to research subjects they find interesting and come to us with ideas. We say ‘go for it’ and help them allocate time to do that.”

Aaron Goldberg, Masa’s director of marketing, added: “Israel is not a place where interns are given ‘grunt’ work just to keep them busy. From day one, the expectation is that an intern will dive in, figure out where they can add value, and apply their talents.

“If you have a great idea in Israel, you’ll be encouraged to develop a plan and execute it. It’s not part of Israeli culture to stand on ceremony and hierarchy. And, when our participants return to the U.S., or while they are still in Israel, they let people know what they’ve been up to and word travels fast.”

One Masa internship success story is Matthew Kaminsky. He built Star Tau’s English-language website “from the bottom up” while interning at the consultancy.

“Israelis have a fire in them to build a business – to take an idea they learned in one place and apply it somewhere else. You really don’t get an environment like that anywhere else other than Israel. It’s always energetic and there’s always something exciting to do.”

Participants on Career Israel, WUJS, iTrack and other Masa-affiliated programs have the option to be placed in an existing internship or they can work with program providers to develop a customized internships with Masa’s partner companies. In addition to placements in the high-tech sector, participants have interned in Israel’s education, government, arts and culture, medicine, non-profit, and fashion industries.

“Flexibility is what sets Masa’s programs apart,” Goldberg said. “These companies are looking for talent and skills, first and foremost. They see tremendous value in working with us to develop experiences based on what an intern can bring to the table.”

Interested participants can begin the application process or schedule a live chat at Call 1-855-GO2-MASA (462-6272) to learn more about Career Israel and other Israel Experience programs being offered.

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Joshua Berkman
Jewish Agency for Israel
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