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.

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.

Working with Autistic Children in Israel

My name is Michelle Fogelson and I am from Minneapolis, Minnesota. I graduated from University of Minnesota in December, and I will begin graduate school this coming September.  This window of time was the perfect time for me to spend time in Israel, and Career Israel was the perfect way for me to grow professionally and have and independent experience in Tel Aviv for a few months.

I am currently interning with the Association for Children at Risk, which is an organization that provides therapeutic service to young children with Autism. I work in a “gan” (kindergarten) with eight pre-school age children who are each on the autism spectrum.  My time is split between helping in the classroom with the educational staff, and working alongside the therapists in physical, speech and occupational therapy. The highlight of my experience has been getting field experience in therapies with children with autism. This is an experience I would have never gotten in the US at this point in my educational and professional career. As I begin my graduate studies in social work I will call on these experiences.

In addition to the internship, Career Israel provides us with trips and seminars every few weeks.  My favorite seminar this year was the Yom Hazikaron seminar during which we learned about Israeli Memorial Day which is celebrated very differently than I am used to celebrating Memorial Day. Being at Latrun when the siren sounded throughout the country announcing the start of the holiday was a memory I’ll have forever.

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.

Changing the Lives of Refugees in Israel

My name is Lilah Jaffee. I completed my BA in Religious Studies at the University of Western Ontario and my Master’s in International Affairs at CarletonUniversity. I was at a crossroads in my life; I had a great education but was still unsure of what direction to take my career. I discovered the Career Israel internship program by chance. It looked like an incredible program that would help me find my niche in the “career world,” while also helping to build my resume. Best of all, I would get to be in Israel! I had been on Birthright in 2008 but had never spent a significant amount of time here and Career Israel seemed like the perfect way to do that.

My internship is at the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC). I am a Relocation Resources Case Worker, which essentially means that I assist asylum seekers living in Israel to relocate to other countries where they have family. This has been a truly humbling experience for me. Coming into this internship I didn’t even know that there were African asylum seekers in Israel, let alone that they were in a daily struggle to be recognized as refugees or that their mere existence in Israel would become one of the most contentious subjects in recent headlines.

It’s hard for me to pick just one special experience from ARDC. A moment that sticks out in my mind happened just the other day. Since April, I have been helping a refugee family from Eritrea with their application for sponsorship in Canada (husband, wife and two children). We met yesterday to go over the details of their refugee claim and to ensure that nothing was missing from their application. When we finished, the mother began to tear up and told me how grateful she was for my help. Even though she knows that I have no power over whether their application gets accepted (and the vast majority do not), the fact that I gave her family a chance at a better future was overwhelming for her. The opportunity to be a part of that process and to help this family, even in only a small way, was such a humbling experience for me.

From my internship at the ARDC, I’ve realized that I want to continue to work with refugees when I go back home to Canada. This internship helped me find something that I was excited and passionate about, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Beyond the internship I’ve enjoyed all of the seminars/trips that we’ve gone on with Career Israel, but the one that will stick with me the most is the Masa Israel event on Yom HaZikaron. It was really touching to hear the stories of the families of fallen soldiers. Experiencing Yom HaZikaron in Israel is something I won’t forget.

A Day in the Life: Working for All My Faves

by Danny Davies

My first year working for All My Faves has been quite the experience. From the day I first arrived as a wide-eyed intern thanks to Career Israel to the day I’m writing this now as editor, I’ve learned so much about the Internet world, and loved every second… Here’s why!

AllMyFaves: My Internship

I first found All My Faves through Career Israel to fill my year off in between law school and starting full time law, believe it or not! Looking for something that would teach me about the Internet, marketing, writing, business development, I felt the best place to learn would be in a start-up… And boy did I get lucky to come here!

AllMyFaves is a place where the more you put in, the more you get out: If you have the ability, imagination and the desire to learn, you really can make a difference!

Read more here.