On February 8th Jovana Kristic prepared herself to leave her parents and home in Belgrade, Serbia for a chance to start her career as an architect. That same time Nadav Schmalbach was preparing to move his suitcases once more from Miami, Florida to meet the group he would be spending the next five months with. They were both about to take their first steps into Career Israel February 2015, the 5 month internship program run in partnership with Masa Israel Journey.
Jovana and I met for the first time during the Career Israel orientation session in a Jerusalem Youth Hostel. Besides being curious about our cultural differences, we had a surprising amount of interests in common. We both liked to learn new things, enjoyed music, art and history, and were always ready to dance some salsa. In fact our first ice breaker was dancing a few salsa songs in the middle of the night in the hostel’s lobby. Well, maybe our first real ice breaker was when I kept referring to her homeland as Siberia and asked where Serbia was because I never heard of it. During the course of the program my lack of familiarity with the Balkan cultures drew me to become more interested in Jovana as we spent more time together. Once the orientation session ended, my flexible schedule at the market intelligence firm that I interned with during the program made allowed me to travel the country. Eventually Jovana and I could finally take a break from restless Tel Aviv to have some peace and quiet at my aunt’s Kibbutz.
Nadav and I, like most of the participants, had a variety of goals and expectations for our Career Israel experiences. His was all about exploring the outdoors side of Israel, but I was focused on finding a strong starting point for my career. Fortunately, I was able to intern at one of the most reputable architectural firms in Israel which made my time spent very rewarding.
By the time Career Israel ended Nadav and I had grown very close and planned to stay together to face the turbulent ride that starting off in Israel can feel like for foreigners. We braved the long nights searching for reasonably priced apartments, we faced the frustration of opening bank accounts and getting B1 Visas, but looking back these hard times made us appreciate our connection more and more. We knew having each other made the whole thing easier and more enjoyable. A big help was that we both were offered jobs from the firms we were interning with during Career Israel! Thank you to our internship coordinator Aryeh for finding great matches for us! I was getting tons of hands-on experience designing buildings that would be in hotspots of the city and Nadav was doing the online marketing for a fast growing hi-tech Big Data intelligence firm that caters to fortune 500 companies across the globe. Even though our Masa Israel program was over, the new Masa (journey) for us was just starting and we were ready. At the end of the day though, we won’t forget that Career Israel is what made it possible for us two ocean-distanced strangers to meet and make lasting memories together in this blooming country.