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Interning at UJA-Federation of NY in Israel - Aaron Herman

Graduating from college is no walk in the park. You have to figure out what you want to do with your life. You have to decide where you want to live. You have to find a job. And these are just a few of the questions young graduates face. These questions are not new ones, only now they have become even more difficult to answer.

Finding an internship can be a great way to gain experience, meet the right people, build up the resume, and even get a foot in the door of an organization. And all the better if you can get that internship going before you graduate. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past six months. I have not yet graduated from my studies at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. But six months ago I landed an internship with the Jewish Federation of New York’s Israel office.

University is great. I love studying (I’m getting a degree in political science), the classes are interesting, and it’s an experience I wouldn’t give up. But there’s a lot of necessary knowledge you don’t get from the world of academics that’s very important for life after school. My time interning with the New York Federation is allowing me to gain so much needed skills and experience. I meet lots of new people, which allows me to network within circles I wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to. I get to do some real work, and don’t spend my time waiting tables, telemarketing, selling clothes, or any other job most students find themselves doing.

Most important of all is the eye-opening experience this internship has given me. I never saw myself working in the Jewish world. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, but this wasn’t it. You always hear of the great things Jewish philanthropy does around the world. But my time here has allowed me to see firsthand. It has also been important for me to learn that while we see helping Jews around the world as a real important act, the Jewish federation has a much more broad view of Tikun Olam. We also emphasize helping those who aren’t Jewish, meeting our historical challenge of being an Or La’goyim. Throughout my time at the Federation here in Jerusalem I’ve seen some of the great work we do with Arabs, Ethiopians, Olim, the periphery, and that’s just to name a few. We have a mutual responsibility to one another irrelevant of race, religion, sex etc. 

I still have a few months to get at this internship, but I now have a much clearer path ahead of me. I feel more prepared to go out and start my professional life. I have, and am continuing to gain skills that will help me make the transition from student post university life. And I may have even found what I would like to be doing, at least for the near future.

Aaron Herman, UJA-Federation of NY Intern, Israel Office