Impact Israel: How 7 Young Professional Olim Fulfilled Their Dreams in Israel

Our Impact Israel conference showcased seven extraordinary young professional Olim.

Impact Israel: 758 (photo credit: NEFESH B'NEFESH)
Impact Israel: 758
(photo credit: NEFESH B'NEFESH)
On November 16-17, Nefesh B’Nefesh launched Impact Israel, a conference based in New York and Los Angeles which showcased seven extraordinary young professional Olim who are leaving their impressive marks on Israel. In addition to panel discussions focused on breaking into diverse fields in Israel--from hi-tech to politics to social work--the conference featured career counseling sessions with Israeli employment counselors, networking sessions, and informational lounge conversations with Aliyah advisors and the Olim. 
This was the first time that NBN is bringing American and British Olim to the United States, and giving them the opportunity to share their paths to success in Israel.
These are some of the seven Olim who spoke at the conference:
Here’s a sneak peak:
Marc Nash, 26
Project Manager at Israeli Hi-Tech Firm
After graduating from Union College with a degree in biomedical engineering, Marc made Aliyah and joined the Israeli army, where he served as a researcher in the biomedical engineering unit. During the evenings, he also worked as a project manager at a startup, designing wound treatment devices.
Once he completed his army service, Marc had to choose between the startup and corporate worlds. “I knew I wanted to get involved in a startup, but I also wanted to get some more work experience, and to learn how to work,” said Marc. “In startups, there’s so much pressure, so you don’t always have the time to learn those skills.”
Marc didn’t make this decision alone, though. First he studied the paths that other VPs of impressive companies in Israel had taken.  Then, he reached out.  
“I connected with 300 to 400 people on LinkedIn and asked questions,” he said. “One connection led me to another connection, and they each helped steer me in the right direction.”  At the end of his search, Marc was left with mentors in the Israeli venture capital and hi-tech worlds, who he could turn to for advice.
After working as a validation engineer at Orgenics Ltd, a diagnostic company, for a year and a half, Marc was promoted to be a project manager. In his day-to-day work, Marc designs and customizes machines, and travels internationally to meet with partners.
“In Israel, your age doesn’t dictate your job in a company. If you show potential and an outcome, you’ll get more and more responsibility,” said Marc. 
Emily Bernstein, 27
Investor Relations at Israeli Venture Capital Firm
During her first year in Israel, Emily Bernstein was not sure how to launch her professional career.  She was enrolled in Hebrew University’s masters degree program in Conflict Research, Resolution and Management, but she didn’t know what would come next.
“In America, you go to school, do internships, create a community, and gain connections, so I decided that I needed to create that for myself in Israel,” said Emily. She began setting up meetings with people who had interesting careers, and seeking out friends who also cared about the community.
Through Ruach Hadasha, an organization that works on keeping young adults in Jerusalem in order to strengthen the city and its pluralistic community, Emily not only found her friends--but also a fundraising job. Her work with Anglo Olim in Jerusalem and her passion for her city led her to work on Nir Barkat’s mayoral campaign. Once that ended, Emily realized she was ready for a change.
Emily once again started meeting with people at companies that interested her--and those meetings led to new connections.  One day, Emily got a call from Jerusalem Venture Partners, an international venture capital firm, asking her to interview for an investor relations position.  
“At my interview, when discussing moving into the field of venture capital, the staff told me that when you work with investors and recruiting capital, one of the most important skills is how you work with people, and that’s not necessarily something that can be taught.” said Emily. A few interviews later, she was offered the job.
“I don’t know if I could have made this professional pivot in America so easily,” said Emily. “But in Israel, there’s an openness in society, and companies look for things in their staff that others might not traditionally look for.” 
Eytan Buchman, 30
Communications Director at a Start-Up
After earning his degree in International Relations from Hebrew University, Eytan Buchman became an officer in the the Israeli army, and served in the army’s Foreign Affairs Office.  While there, Eytan worked his way up to become the IDF Spokesperson for North American media, where he served during Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012.
Following six years of service, Eytan became the communications director for Freightos, a B2B startup that provides instant price quotes for industrial shipping. 
“Because of the army, Israelis know that young people can amass really important and critical experience,” said Eytan. “My work in the military definitely helped me move up faster in the hi-tech world.”
In his job, Eytan is responsible for all channels of marketing, including paid advertisements, content generation, public relations, event planning, social media, and sales support.
“Israel is such a young country that influencing anything at this stage will make a broader impact 20 to 30 years down the line,” said Eytan.  “Startups go global and you can really make a difference.”
Tzipora Hait, 27
Social worker at Israeli aid organizations
After graduating from college, Tzipora Hait came to Israel to volunteer while applying to American graduate programs in clinical psychology. But a few months into her stay, she realized that she wanted to make a life for herself in Israel. Tzipora began considering Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work, where she could complete her internships in Israel.
“In the short span of time that I had to make my decision, I did a lot of research,” said Tzipora. “And I found that I could do the kind of clinical work I wanted to do as a social worker in Israel.”
When it was time to find a job, Tzipora reached out to other Israeli Wurzweiler graduates, as well as people who worked in the social work field in Israel. When she initially met with the director of Crossroads, which provides social services and programming for at-risk English-speaking Olim youth, she only planned to ask him about opportunities in her field.
But a couple of months later, she realized she was interested in working there.  There was  a job available--and Tzipora was hired.
“In Israel, people are really happy to meet with you. And the beauty of networking is that you never know who is going to be that person who will really make a difference for you,” said Tzipora.
She also found a job working in the education department of the Crisis Center for Religious Women, which helps religious and charedi women who are dealing with violence or abuse through aid and preventative workshops. 
Tzipora loves that she is able to impact Israeli society through her work.  During Operation Protective Edge, she ran trauma workshops in the south and was touched by how much appreciation she received from the community. 
“I’m really glad that I’m in a profession that is part of making a difference in Israel,” she said. 
Josh Hantman, 30
Senior Advisor to the Israeli Ambassador to the USA
With degrees in Middle Eastern Studies from Oxford and Harvard under his belt, Josh Hantman made Aliyah and nabbed a one-year fellowship working as an aide to Ron Dermer, who was then the Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister. Though it was his first time working in Israel as part of an elite environment, Josh felt comfortable from the get-go. 
“Even six months in, I didn’t feel like I was an immigrant or foreign,” said Josh. “People appreciated the fact that I was there.”
When the fellowship ended, Josh volunteered for the army, where he served as the international media advisor in the communications team of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories.  After his service, Josh was hired to be the international spokesperson at the Ministry of Defense. 
“I came to the Prime Minister’s Office with knowledge, and I also had perfect English and near perfect Hebrew,” said Josh. “When you come to Israel with both perfect English and perfect Hebrew, and understand the nuances of the languages and the outside world, it really gives you some added value.”
Because there were few people with Josh’s unique skills, he also soon became a speechwriter at the Ministry of Defense. When, a few years later, Josh’s former boss, Ron Dermer was made ambassador to the United States, he asked Josh to join him in DC. Josh accepted and became Ron Dermer’s senior advisor.
Though Josh is looking forward to returning to Israel, he feels fortunate to be in his current position.
“I would never have been able to do what I’m doing if I’d stayed in England or America,” said Josh. “I’m working with Israel’s ambassador to our most important ally, and I couldn’t be doing more with my skillset than I’m doing right now.”
Find out more about Impact Israel here (LINK).