How to translate your Israel experience for your resume

This was written in conjunction with Miranda Bogen, Masa Israel’s Director of Communications.

Let’s start with a quiz.

Initially you decided to participate in an Israel program because you wanted to:
A) Soak up the sun on the Tel Aviv beach
B) Explore Jerusalem’s Old City
C) Do meaningful volunteer work
D) Meet someone special
E) Leave the rat race behind
F) Get some solid professional experience

If you answered A, B, C, D, or E, guess what—you accomplished F as well!

Because while you’re having the time of your life, exploring the land with your five new best friends, you’re actually having experiences that will make future employers’ mouths drop open.

“Wait, you spent five months interning in the Middle East? Weren’t you scared? How did you overcome the language barrier? And your title at your internship was Director of Sales for North American Markets?”

As a person with international internship or service experience, you should know that you are a highly attractive candidate to future employers. But in order to make the most out of your global experience for your career, you’ll need to be sure to leverage your experiences by framing them the best way possible on your resume.

Here are some examples of experiences Masa Israel alums commonly need to include on their resume, plus some tips from the Harvard Business Review:

What you did:
You were a volunteer teacher’s aide at an Israeli public school in a city that isn’t Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

What you should write on your resume:
Teacher’s aide, Name of School
Worked with at-risk youth in a peripheral Israeli city for 30 hours per week teaching English as a Second Language in a public elementary school.

Tips for the description: Did you make any concrete changes in your volunteer placement? Did you take on leadership roles or manage other volunteers?

What you did:
You were enrolled in a 5-month-long, 5 days a week, 5 hours a day intensive Hebrew course.

What you should write on your resume:
Built proficiency in Hebrew through a 125-hour immersive language fluency course; advanced three levels in record time.

Tips for the description: Did you complete any special projects, advance more quickly than average, or win any awards for your work?

What you did:
You started a yoga club for disadvantaged youth in a periphery community.

What you should write on your resume:
Community Volunteer

Spearheaded a community development program for disadvantaged youth, organizing after-school yoga classes as a positive alternative to widespread delinquent activity among young adults in the socioeconomic periphery; convinced 5 community organizations to contribute financial support and volunteers.

Tips for the description: What structure/processes did you set up to make your project possible? Was your project featured in any publications? How many people is your project influencing and how did you reach them?

What you did:
You interned at McCann Erickson in Israel and worked on creating logos and  managing social media.

What you should write on your resume:
Marketing intern, McCann Erickson Israel

Contributed to marketing and branding efforts, managed social media campaigns for major global companies including [company names], excelling in a cross-cultural, multilingual environment.

Tips for the description: Did you help clients see significant growth in their audience? Did you receive any recognition from your supervisor, or were you given additional responsibility not in your initial job description?

What you did:
You interned at an Israeli hi-tech startup, where you were the first person to manage the North American sales and marketing, increasing the client base from 0 to 20 and placing articles in blogs and local publications.

What you should write on your resume:
Director of Sales for North American Markets, [Startup name]

Built marketing and sales strategy to penetrate North American markets, developing 20 major clients in only 4 months and placing 15 articles in online and local publications.

Tips for the description: What were you responsible for managing? What kind of budget did you work with? What benchmarks did you meet or surpass for the company?

What you did:
You studied Jewish courses from 9am to 10pm almost every day for nine months.

What you should write on your resume:
Name of Institution, Dates of attendance
Coursework including history, Jewish Law, comparative text study, and religious philosophy.

Tips for the description: Did you study with any well-known scholars? What courses/lessons did you take that have an application to the job you are applying for?

What you did:
You learned judo and karate and got into serious shape.

What you should write on your resume:
Studied Judo and Karate under international champions and Olympic coaches, advancing to red belt in both disciplines; planned and led martial arts workshops for visiting groups.

Tips for the description: Did you organize any public events/workshops or work with influential figures during your program? To whom and for how many people? What challenges did you overcome and what was the outcome?

What you did:
You hiked the Israel Trail with a backpack and a bunch of friends.

What you should write on your resume:
Participated in a cross-country trek with 15 peers, facilitated team-building initiatives, planned communal budget, managed conflict-resolution situations among group members.

Tips for the description: What leadership roles did you take on in your group? Did you perform volunteer projects along the way? What kind of quantifiable impact did you make on your group or on anything else you were involved in?

Here are some general tips for strong resume writing:

  • ALWAYS tailor your resume for each position/organization—employers want to see how you will fit their job, not read a story of your life, so use words and phrases from the job description to which you are responding
  • As much as possible, add quantifiable information to your job descriptions—numbers, percentage growth, amount of time. Most employers admit that they don’t read resumes carefully, but numbers catch their attention
  • Use action verbs at the beginning of each bullet point, and try to vary them (Lead, built, grew, organized, etc)
  • Highlight leadership roles and accomplishments rather than tasks. This will show potential employer why they should hire YOU over everyone else.
About the Author
Rachel Sales is co-founder of Pink Pangea (, the magazine for women who love to travel. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. She currently lives in Israel.