How Rachel Kass Hacked Her Internship

Photo: Rachel Kass and Assaf Luxembourg

Since starting this blog, I shared many of my thoughts about careers in the new world of work, why an entrepreneurial approach is key to survive and thrive, and how thinking like a business unit is the best way I know to operate in today’s work and business environment.

Working with many international talents in Israel, and especially with “Olim” (those who made “Aliyah” – new immigrants) and participants of programs such as Masa Israel Journey, Onward Israel and others, I directed many of my tips for this community – from how to better look for a job and leverage your unique added value , through what is the secret opportunity of your internship and what is the most important thing to do when taking an internship, to how your internship is likely to behave, and many more…

But, nothing beats hearing it from others. This time, I am happy to have Rachel Kass, who I was honored to mentor when she participated in a post-college 6-month long Masa program.

Rachel, tell us a little bit about your story?

I grew up in London, England. Currently, I am training to be a solicitor at an English law firm called Asserson, which is headquartered in central London but has its largest office in the heart of Tel Aviv’s business district. The firm provides legal advice to clients around the world, looking to do business or solve disputes under English law. Before going into law, I studied Philosophy, Religion and Ethics at the University of Birmingham. Between my undergraduate degree and law school, I participated in a Masa Israel Journey internship program, and interned in the same company I work for today. This ultimately led to me taking the plunge and moving to Israel. In my spare time, I am partial to letting loose by dancing around my apartment, I also enjoy exploring Tel Aviv, hiking, and winding-down by watching food-related TV shows.

What was your original motivation to sign up for an internship program in Israel?

Rewind to the Summer of 2017 – I was studying hard for my law school exams, staring out of the window at London’s grey skies, wishing I were somewhere else and doing something else. As many people do when faced with an undesirable task (such as studying), I opened up Google and started searching for more exciting things I could be doing with my time. One thing led to another and I decided to sign up for an internship program in Tel Aviv via Masa Israel Journey. I knew I needed a change of scenery and a change of pace. I wanted to learn more about myself, gain some valuable professional experience and push myself out of my comfort zone. An internship program, where I would be living and working in Israel (a country I have a strong affinity for), seemed like the perfect solution to my law school blues. 

What helped you land a job offer from your employer in the internship?

As time progressed, I knew that I wanted to move to Israel and that I wanted to work for the firm where I was interning as it values innovation, flexibility, sincerity and collaboration, all of which are important to me. With this in mind, I chose to treat my internship as a 6-month interview process and make valuable contributions to the firm every day. After completing my internship, I was fortunate enough to be hired by the company and returned almost two years later as a full-time employee. I realized that I did not need fluent Hebrew to work in Israel, and also that I did not have to choose between living in Israel and having a stimulating career as an English lawyer, doing highly interesting work for world-class clients. My move to Israel was made that much smoother by returning to a company which has a general innovative quality and is an incredibly supportive place to work for Olim (new immigrants to Israel).

What was the hardest moment in your journey, during your internship and Aliyah process?

Having recently made Aliyah (immigrate) to Israel, I think the biggest challenge has probably been navigating Israeli bureaucracy when I am not (yet) fluent in Hebrew. Having a basic level of Hebrew and being a native English speaker definitely helps, but there have been numerous times where I do not fully understand what I am signing or what I need to do. And, as a lawyer, this has been particularly challenging as one of the most common pieces of advice you give a client is not to sign anything without first reading and fully understanding what it is you are signing.

What helped you the most to overcome this challenging moment?

Here’s how I see it:

  1. If you don’t ask, you don’t get; and
  2. The worst that anybody can say is “no”.

Realizing these two points, whilst remaining positive and intentional, really helped me (and continue to help me) overcome these challenges. Moving to Israel as a young Jewish person, I knew that I had friends and family who had moved here and overcome the challenges I was facing, it wasn’t as though I was moving to Hong Kong or Sri Lanka. In short, I realized that I have to be comfortable with asking for help and that people are very happy to pitch in and tell you about their Aliyah sagas…in detail.

 What is your best career advice for talented young professionals who are thinking about participating in a career and internship program in Israel?

In the famous words of Hillel, “if not now, when?”. I say that, but in reality there are numerous variables that come in to play, the biggest one being – timing. For me, the timing was right and I knew that if I didn’t seize the opportunity to experience living and working abroad now, before entering the working world, I probably wouldn’t have the chance to again. Think about the type of experience you want to have and what skills you would like to gain. Think about your next move and how you can use your internship to get you to where you want to be, both professionally and personally. Take bold and intelligent risks. Cliches exist for a reason, the more you put in to your experience, the more you will get out of it. Stay curious, make yourself valuable, and be adaptable.

What is your best advice for career-minded young professionals who are currently doing an internship program in Israel?

Be proactive and ask questions. Sometimes you have to put yourself out there and not be afraid. Always ask. As I mentioned earlier, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. If you want to be hired, to be put on a project, to develop new skills, you have to be proactive, speak to your superiors and get involved. What really helped me was meeting new people, building both personal and professional connections, and remembering that we are always selling ourselves as business units. Luck and change of course have their parts – but that’s what helped me. So, if you want to get a job in Israel but do not have fluent Hebrew – don’t use it as an excuse for not trying to get what you want. Go with your gut, make things happen and go after the things you want to achieve because you can do it if you work hard for it.

What is your advice for any young professionals out there, who may be struggling to find their career path?

Keep an open mind and don’t kick yourself if things don’t go according to plan. We so often view our career path as being linear. My advice would be to be flexible and willing to follow various twists and turns – in this way you will be able to spot new opportunities, gain new skills, discover new interests, form new habits and test your limits. Give yourself time to try something new and different. You never know, you may end up moving your life thousands of kilometers away!

About the Author
Assaf is passionate about promoting business in and with Israel, helping and mentoring entrepreneurs, advising young professionals with career planning and self-fulfillment, and more. Assaf acts as a brand ambassador of Israel as 'Start-Up Nation', speaking to thousands of businessmen, investors, entrepreneurs, young professionals, students and others, both in Israel and around the world. Assaf also works as a business development and marketing consultant to Israeli start-ups and others.
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