Shalem junior Hadas Ofir is pulling late nights on a research project. During down time between classes, she’s writing up reports, and contemplating potential avenues of inquiry over breakfast. This isn’t for one of her college courses, however. The work is for her internship.
Hadas, like most third-year students, is integrating a personalized internship into her demanding course load. After a rigorous freshman-year course on the challenges facing Israeli society, and a sophomore year spent volunteering at a non-profit with large-scale impact on the Jewish state, juniors are matched up with a leading corporation, governmental institution, or nonprofit organization at which they may spend their remaining two years as an intern.
For Hadas, that time will be spent at Start-Up Nation Central, which connects overseas companies, and even countries themselves, directly to the people and technologies in Israel that can solve their most urgent problems. As an intern with the strategy team, Hadas has helped promote job creation in the innovation ecosystem and address the shortage of qualified human capital in Israel’s hi-tech industry. She describes the work as “a perfect fit for both my background and my career aspirations. Having spent two years of my national service working in Intelligence, and helping to facilitate the interaction between individuals and parties from within Israel and their overseas counterparts, I realized that this was an area in which I could make a meaningful impact,” she explains. Her mentor at Start-Up Nation Central, Head of Strategy & Industry Analysis Aviv Alper, agrees. “Hadas has brought curiosity, a fresh perspective, and an ability to deliver analysis that is at once precise and comprehensive. Her work regularly includes original insights that help us to make more informed decisions.”
Along with her fluent English, Hadas spent several of her high-school years in the Ukraine, while her family provided outreach services to the Jewish community there. This “firsthand experience of the non-Israeli mentality,” as she describes it, made her realize that there was a real need for individuals who are sensitive to the very different assumptions and attitudes that reign outside Israel’s borders in companies that interface with governments, organizations, and clients abroad. “At Start-Up Nation Central, I’m helping to put Israel’s best foot forward by ‘translating” the amazing technological innovations happening here into terms and opportunities that speak to potential clients,” Hadas enthuses. “It’s public relations with a tangible impact: At the end of the day, an Israeli company’s technology is being put to use in visible, positive ways. And I feel proud that I was able to make a genuine, positive contribution to the Jewish state.”