Jul.20, 2012 | 3:07 AM–For thousands of college graduates who still haven’t found their dream job (or any job, for that matter ), professional internships in Israel are becoming the option of choice. The opportunity to gain hands-on job experience is particularly beckoning to young Americans, who’ve discovered in recent years that a college degree is no longer a guaranteed ticket to gainful employment.
“Thirty years ago, these kids would come to Israel to milk cows on a kibbutz. Now they’re coming to work in high-tech companies in Tel Aviv,” says Avi Rubel, the executive director of Masa North America, which runs many of these internship programs. Masa is a joint venture of the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency.
Yet another interesting twist is that if in the past young Israelis would go to America to gain experience that would make them more attractive job candidates back home, today it is the Americans who are coming to Israel for that very same reason. “Israel is known around the world as ‘start-up nation,’ and these college graduates want to boost their resumes, so having work experience in Israel gives them an edge, and it’s certainly a better option than working as a barista at Starbucks,” says Rubel.
For many, it’s a way to do something useful and pass time until the U.S. economy turns around. For others, especially the relatively older ones, it’s an opportunity to explore a career change once they’ve reached a dead end. For still others, it’s a way of checking out the possibility of aliyah by working and living among Israelis.
About five organizations, each working with its own separate network of employers, are involved in placing these university graduates in internships in Israel. Altogether, they work with several hundred employers, mainly in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The best known among these organizations is Career Israel.
Five years ago, when most of these programs were first launched, they attracted a total of 850 participants. This year, the number ballooned to 2,300, and according to Rubel, this is just the tip of the iceberg. “We anticipate that by 2015, there’ll be somewhere between 4,000 and 4,500 young Jewish adults participating in these internship programs. Of all the programs we run in Israel, this is our fastest-growing sector,” he says. All told, close to 11,500 young adults have interned in Israel through these programs in recent years, according to Rubel.
About 25 percent of the participants intern at high-tech companies, he says. The others span the spectrum. Some participants work in public relations and finance, others work with African refugees and autistic children, some are placed at government agencies, and still others work in the arts, designing costumes for actors on the Tel Aviv stage…Read More>>