Close to 350 young professionals from around the world got an inside look at Israel’s start-up ecosystem while learning how to build their networks, resumes, and personal brands at “Masa Fast Forward,” a professional development conference organized for hundreds of Masa Israel Journeyparticipants this week.

Yuval Shmulevitz, Vice President of Community and Operations at the global navigation app Waze, opened up the gathering, held at Tel Aviv’s Yitzhak Rabin Center.

Throughout the evening, recent college graduates who are participating in Masa Israel’s long-term internships, English language teaching fellowshipsand post-college programs, attended interactive workshops facilitated by industry leaders that were designed to help advance their careers. Topics ranged from “Parallel Roads to Success: Developing your Social and Business Career” with Sagi Shahar, CEO and co-founder of Nachshonim Ventures, which connects young business professionals with volunteer opportunities at nonprofits, to “Body Language: Tools to Engage & Mobilize” by Ben Baginsky, Director of the Masa-GLI Global Leadership Accelerator program, which recently launched a new partnership with WeWork.

“From building your personal brand through social media platforms to acquiring a set of networking skills, the sessions I attended gave me new, necessary tools to apply as I move forward in my professional career,” said Dylan Simmons, a Canada native and participant in Masa Israel’s Destination Israel program.

Israel is looking to leverage Masa activities to draw young professionals to its high tech sector as the industry faces a shortage of skilled workers.Israel on Sunday approved the hiring of 500 foreign high-tech workers in a bid to forestall a severe shortage in qualified programmers and internet experts and proposed increasing the number of students in high-tech academic programs by 40 percent in the next six years.

Masa is an initiative of The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli government, that aims to bring Jewish communities in North America closer to Israel via education and career development experiences in Israel. Currently, more than 2,000 students and young professionals are interning across Israel through Masa Israel Journey, at start-ups, hospitals, venture capital firms, schools, small businesses, media outlets and more, the organization said.

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