Each year, hundreds of college students and graduates distinguish themselves from their peers in a crowded job market by gaining serious work experience in Israel through Masa, immersing themselves in all sectors of the Israeli economy including education, law, medicine, business, arts, non-profit, and governmental agencies.
However, many interns still lack practical guidance in translating their experience abroad into a compelling resume.
This fall, 45 young adults interning in Israel will receive high-quality, one on one career counseling and hundreds more will participate in career skill-building workshops and webinars.
"Interning in Israel is a unique, impactful experience, but it's hard to explain how it shaped me not only as a person but as a productive member of society, and a skilled worker," said Grace Parker, a Masa Career Israel participant recently accepted into Masa Works. "This program is a good opportunity to really distill my experiences for future interviews."
This common sentiment prompted Masa Israel, a joint project of the Government of Israel and The Jewish Agency for Israel, to team up with Jewish Family Services of Columbus, a workforce development organization with 25 career strategists. "Masa Israel Journey changes people's lives through unique cultural and internship opportunities, and Jewish Family Services changes people's lives through helping them understand how these experiences will assist them in finding meaningful employment opportunities," states Jennifer Marshall, Chief Operating Officer of JFS.
Masa will use the program to grow its network of employers in key US cities who recognize the value of hiring Masa alumni, building on a process started in 2011, when Masa brought 13 representatives from Fortune 500 companies to Israel to help Masa expand their internship offerings.
"A lot of young adults are worried that coming to Israel for a five-month internship would be considered 'time off,'" says Avi Rubel, Executive Director of Masa Israel Journey, North America. "Yet we know from our numerous alumni who go on to get great jobs that it helped differentiate them from their peers and it's in actually 'time on' in every sense."
Participants were selected to join the program based on an application process. Each participant will undergo an initial needs assessment to review their background and understand their unique skillset, resulting in an Individualized Employment Plan to ensure their professional goals are both identified and addressed.
Additional components of the program are one-on-one coaching, personal brand development, resume creation and enhancement, interview preparation, training in effective usage of social media, job placement assistance, and local occupation information based on each participant's city and field, all to help each participant achieve their objectives.
"I'm hoping to build my social media presence," added Parker, who interns at the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response. "There are avenues like LinkedIn where you can reach out to people and make connections beyond just submitting resumes, but I haven't developed that ability yet."
Though Parker knows she wants a career in foreign public service, many other young adults feel overwhelmed by the amount of options they face as a new member of the workforce.
"I'm at square one right now," said Talia Golijov, who currently interns at Newshound Media through Masa's Israel Way Oranim program and was also accepted to Masa Works. "I don't know where I want to start my career. I've never considered myself to have a dream field, and that's why I need as much guidance as I can get."
Masa has partnered with JFS of Columbus in the pilot year of Masa Works because JFS offers a successful similar job assistance program, Growing Jewish Columbus. The program, which runs in conjunction with the Jewish Federation of Columbus and OSU Hillel, works to retain Jewish young adults in the region by providing employment services, building a stronger, sustainable Jewish community.
"There are many more cities in the US struggling to attract and retain top talent, including Cleveland, Detroit, Baltimore, and even Chicago and Miami," Rubel says. "We want Masa Works to be an outlet to help those Jewish communities draw in exceptional young adults."
Masa hopes to involve many other Jewish communities and Federations as the program develops. According to Masa's annual alumni exit survey conducted in August of 417 recent returnees who participated in post-college and study-abroad programs, 84% of respondents said they are interested in working for a Jewish organization. Masa Works could serve as an effective channel to connect alumni to opportunities in the Jewish world while giving them the tools to ensure they get noticed by employers.
"Interning for the Peres Center for Peace prepared me for all aspects of the workspace I would go on to encounter in my job," says Daniel Cohen, a Career Israel alumnus who went on to work for the Jewish Theological Seminary before entering grad school. "While people in my program did get jobs, very few got them right after getting home. Having a program like Masa Works to provide professional resources could close the gap between Israel and working."
For more information, visit http://works.masaisrael.org/