Alum in the Cleveland Jewish News!

Published in the Cleveland Jewish News on October 2.

Ilana Polster, who graduated early, in 2011, from Shaker Heights High School and is a freshman at Princeton University in New Jersey, is back in the United States following eight months of volunteer work, including three in Morocco and five in Israel.

Both Shaker Heights residents have shared new insight from their journeys.

Polster brought back lessons from her eight months abroad.

“I graduated high school early and spent the second half of my senior year volunteering abroad in Morocco,” Polster wrote for the Career Israel blog. “I returned home when my three-month visa expired, but decided that I wanted to continue volunteering abroad before heading to college.”

“I spent the past summer working towards my emergency medical technician license with the plan of volunteering in ambulances overseas. After my experience in Morocco, I was relatively certain that I wanted to return to the Middle East. I initially chose Israel purely for language reasons – I have a decent comprehension of Hebrew, and communication plays a central role in ambulance work.”

In Israel, Polster volunteered for Magen David Adom ambulance services. Polster, who is studying international relations at Princeton, is one of 1,200 young adults placed in internships through the Career Israel project of the Israel Experience Ltd.

Read more in Cleveland Jewish News.

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In Israel Campus Beat: Campus to Career: Graduates Seek Work in Israel

When Joanna Lieberman was preparing for graduation from Cornell University five years ago, her career options were unsettling. Dreaming of a job in the hospitality industry but lacking a degree in the field, she realized she needed hands-on work experience before pursuing a full-time position. Lieberman, along with thousands of other American college graduates, turned to Israel’s growing employment market for an answer.

“People are realizing the opportunities in Israel to get hands-on career experience in industries that are doing cutting-edge work,” she said. “Israel is known for its booming tourism industry and it seemed like the perfect place for me to test out working in the field.”

Lieberman’s hands-on work experience came from working with Career Israel, Masa Israel Journey’s five-month professional internship program that allows college graduates to explore their fields of interest. In addition to a life spent embracing her Jewish heritage, she points to her involvement with Israel-on-campus activities as a driving factor behind moving to Israel after she graduated. Participating in her Hillel’s Israel activities, she said, kept her feeling connected to the country.

Read more in Israel Campus Beat.

How Career Israel Helped Me Land My Dream Job

by Mara Kurlandsky

I went on Career Israel from 2009-2010. I interned half at Beit HaTfuzot, the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, and half at Omanoot: Israel through Art. I loved living in Tel Aviv, but to be perfectly honest, I suspected at the time, and thought for a while after, that my time in Israel had been at best, a fun way to spend time while applying to grad school, and at worst, a bad financial decision. I had already spent 8 months traveling after college and going back to Israel (I spent my junior year abroad there) was a way to continue avoiding the real world.   

My experience ended up playing a large part in securing my dream job.  I just finished my M.A. in Museum Studies in Washington, DC and I’ve started working at a very well-known museum exhibit design firm, which happens to be redesigning the new permanent exhibitions at Beit HaTfuzot. I couldn’t have gotten the job without my master’s degree, but my edge was definitely my experience at Beit Hatfuzot as well as the ability to read Hebrew.

I’ll be working on a number of different projects that alone would have been enough to make the job fantastic. But getting to work on the Beit Hatfuzot redesign – with the possibility of travel to Tel Aviv for work – is a dream come true. And for that, I’m grateful for my Career Israel experience.

Saving Lives in Israel

Hello, my name is Maddison Martin. I am 22 years old and was born and raised in Huntington Beach, California. I went to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I earned a degree is psychology. After participating in Birthright Israel in January, I knew I wanted to come back and spend more time in Israel.  I enrolled in the Career Israel internship program because I wanted the chance to live abroad, gain international work experience, and live in a place where I feel like I belong.

Growing up, I attended Hebrew school and Sunday school once a week until Bat Mitzvah age, but I never really felt part of the Jewish community for some reason. On Birthright, it was amazing for me to see how many people were Jewish around me. I finally didn’t feel like the minority, and I knew I must return to Israel because 10 days did not seem like a long enough time to get to know the country.

I have my EMT at home and have been an Ocean Lifeguard for seven years. I have always been interested in the emergency medical field and.  On Career Israel, I intern with Magen David Adom (MDA) on ambulances.  So far I love this internship! It has showed me that I truly do want to become a paramedic, and I wouldn’t have known that for sure without this experience.

One particular memory comes to mind when I think of  my internship at MDA. My first CPR ever was with another girl who went through the training program with me. It was an amazing experience, and I will never forget how we worked as a team to perform CPR and life-savings skills. I saw everything one could possibly see in that one call. Because of this experience I have confidence in myself doing anything that might happen while volunteering on the ambulance.

Another thing about Career Israel that I love is that we go on overnight trips every few weeks. My favorite trip has been the North Trip to the Golan Heights and the Kinneret. We hiked, met Arab-Israeli students, and went to the beautiful city of Tsfat. Seeing the beauty that Israel has to offer really shows me that I made the correct decision in coming on Career Israel.

Without a scholarship from the Orange County Federation, an interest free loan from the Los Angeles Federation, and the Masa grant, I would not have been able to  be a part of this wonderful program.

Holiday Season Continues in Israel

This post is by Sarah Padway, participant on the Career Israel Internship Program. Graduate of  the University  of Wisconsin ( BA in Journalism and Mass Communications and History).  Sarah’s internship in Tel Aviv is in government and politics.  

The week following Yom HaShoah, we celebrated two of the most opposite holidays back to back, Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror Remembrance Day) and Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day). We began on Tuesday with a tour of Yad Vashem andMt.Herzlwith Career Israel. This was my first time visiting Yad Vashem, and it was an experience. Even the layout of the museum pays tribute to victims. The museum is laid out so that it is impossible to go straight through, because, like in the Holocaust, there was no easy way out.

The most moving exhibit that I went through was the Children’s Memorial. It is completely dark, except 5 candles that are reflected off of thousands of mirrors, so it seems like hundreds of candles, representing the children’s universes that were lost far too soon. We then walked up toMt. Herzl,Israel’sNationalCemetery. The walk up to the cemetery symbolizes the rise from the Holocaust to the creation of the Jewish State.Mt.Herzlis home to members of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) who fall in service, as well as prominent Israeli, Jewish and Zionist leaders. As we were walking through the cemetery, it struck me that because all Israelis serve in the IDF, it is likely that every citizen knows someone who is buried atMt.Herzl. The cemetery is absolutely gorgeous, and pays a beautiful tribute to every person who died fighting forIsrael.

Career Israel internship program participants on Yom HaZikaron (Photo by Oriel Kempner)

Since Tuesday evening marked the beginning of Yom HaZikaron, we went to a MASA Remembrance event in Latrun that evening. The event included stories of a few fallen soldiers and terror victims, as well as songs and writings by both the victims and members of their families. The program was a lot to take in after an already heavy day, but it is important to take the time to remember those lost in battle and terror attacks. I felt an incredible connection to the soldiers and their families. There was another moment of silence on Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. This time, I was in the shuk with Oriel. The shuk is a boisterous place, and at 11 a.m., the entire market went silent and still. Then, similar to Yom HaShoah, once the siren stopped, business continued.

Then, around sundown, the transformation happened signaling the beginning of Yom Ha’Atzmaut. We went to Kikar Rabin, where there was a live band, fireworks, and everyone dancing in the street to celebrateIsrael’s birthday, the whole country became a huge party. Putting the two holidays back-to-back emphasizes the fact that the reasonIsraelexists is because of those who sacrificed their lives to defend the country, a very beautiful tradition.

Career Israel internship program participants on Yom Haatzmaut (photo by Nina Baker)

At this point, you’re probably thinking, does she ever go to work? I do, I swear! After a weekend of celebrating, it was back to work on Sunday morning. When I got to work, I was told not to unpack anything because we were heading straight to a meeting about using new media effectively. There were about 30 members of different branches of the Israeli government, and we were meeting with senior communications advisors for theU.S.government. So, on the other side of the world, I was sitting across the table from a senior advisor to Hillary Clinton, the White House director of new media, and new media advisors for other sectors of the government! It was interesting to hear why the government uses certain strategies and new media tools as opposed to others.

The past two weeks have been an incredible mix of experiences. I know these holidays will never simply be regular holidays, marked on the calendar, ever again. But for now, it’s back to work, for a few days at least!

For more information about Career Israel…