When Orange Coast College student Chad Schaeffer was considering his study abroad options, he learned that he could intern at an international marketing firm in Tel Aviv, gain professional experience for his merchandising and marketing major, and earn college credit. He jumped at the opportunity and enrolled in Masa Israel’s Oranim Internship Experience.
Having previously traveled to Israel with Birthright, Chad says that he is, “getting an experience that no one else can give me right now.” At SKS Innovating People, Chad oversees the US/UK market, finding leads and making sales.
“I adapted quickly to the Israeli work culture because it is similar to California’s; people are laid back, but hard working,” says Chad. “Then again, Israelis are a little more blunt.”
Chad’s co-workers quickly accepted him as a member of the company. “In Israel, a person’s ideas and hard work are valued rather than his experience,” says Chad. In addition to putting Chad in charge of recreating the product catalog, which included reformulating the company’s mission statement, the firm is working with Chad on a joint business venture. When he returns to California, he will become the US-based distributor.
“As a person, I’ve grown tremendously from my internship,” says Chad. “I’ve become a lot more confident and a better leader.”
Aside from the professional experience Chad gained in Israel, he has been able to get to know Tel Aviv alongside new Jewish friends from Russia, Canada, Norway, and Germany. “I feel like a local here,” says Chad. “I know where everything is, and I also love the fact that everyone’s Jewish. People don’t question others about their religion, and there’s a lot of room for growth.”
Although Chad returns to California in a month, he believes his relationship with Israel is only beginning. “Hopefully I’ll be returning to Israel a bunch. It’s a booming market,” he says.
He also looks forward to becoming more involved in Israel-related events in California. “I have a ton of Jewish friends who were always really involved in Israel, while I wasn’t,” says Chad. “But, now here I am—interning in Israel and loving it.”