Seeing More CVs of Turkish People on Your Desk? A Story of Rebuilding That You Need to Hear

Today, I’m going to take a step back and tell you an inspiring story of success, celebration, and rebuilding community.

A few years ago, I was sitting with a few of my Jewish friends at a cafe in Istanbul. I asked them what it’s like to live in Turkey post a military coup attempt. They expressed concern that many of their friends are emigrating. Sarah* said, “I’ll be the last one to leave, Turkey is my home.” I identified with that sentiment, even though I live in Israel. Everyone else said, when they think of leaving, something pulls them back — mostly, the worry of having to rebuild their lives in a foreign country. Ironically, they were only beginning their careers in Turkey, and had so much to give. They were post-college with hard and soft skills, and fluent in multiple languages. Relative to more established folks, I thought, they would have little trouble adapting to a new language, culture and reality. At the time, I had just gotten my first job in Israel. I showed them that it was easier than they thought: there were job boards, LinkedIn, Facebook groups, and lots of people to connect with.

On the flight back to Israel, I had an idea — why not start a Facebook group like my friend Naava did for career-minded mothers in Israel? But this time, it would be for career-minded Turks in Israel, so we can list and share all our resources, help each other, and together build a community. The ingredients were there: a connected community base, a willingness to help, and a desire to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. In my experience, Turkish Jews are organized enough to ensure nobody in our community goes without food or shelter — in Turkey and Israel alike. So when I landed, I created “Turkish Professional Israel Network” on Facebook and started adding friends.

Fast forward, we have an active group, with daily posts and almost 1,000 members. Betina Tabah, my co-admin, has become my dear friend. In May 2018, we finally had our first in-person event with JConnect’s founder Rina Barbut. This first-ever Tel Aviv Talks in Turkish was hosted by the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality at their prestigious top floor briefing/events room. A statement, that we too, have a place here.

Event participants smile as JConnect’s Rina Barbut recounts her career adventures in Israel. (Photo: Yasmin SULTANI)

The event had networking sessions, a panel of olim who transitioned to thriving careers in Israel, motivational 5-minute speeches, a refresher on how to write an Israeli CV, and a keynote address from a successful Turkish-Israeli entrepreneur. The panelists and speakers lead careers in finance, hi-tech, tourism, commerce, HR, management, and graphic design, among others. 70 people joined and over 500 watched on Facebook LIVE. People are still talking about the connections and opportunities they found and strategies they learned about integrating into the Israeli workplace. To us, that showed the event was a success. We are starting to shift the conversation from finding a job in Israel to building a career here. Because as we’ve learned together, it IS possible.

iPad recording the event on Facebook LIVE
Panelists speak about their professional experiences, as the event is streamed on Facebook LIVE. (Photo: Yasmin SULTANI)

Inviting some of my friends as speakers was incredibly inspiring to me personally. They once hosted me in their Tel Aviv apartments, almost 10 years ago, on their second hand couches, as they were starting their new jobs hoping to build careers here. Today, they have built those opportunities into established careers, learned Hebrew, got partners, homes, and children. The event — and now the Facebook group too — also serve as a reminder that we have what to celebrate in reestablishing our community here. We also received sponsorship from the only Turkish-speaking (as well as the largest) B’nai B’rith Lodge in Israel, made up of Turkish olim of over 40 years back. Now others are also jumping on board to mentor and support — from within and outside the Turkish community in Israel.

Veteran and new immigrants meet at the Networking and Panel event, "I'll Make Aliyah and Build a Career". (Photo: Mili NIFUSI)
Veteran and new immigrants meet at the Networking and Panel event, “I’ll Make Aliyah and Build aCareer”. (Photo: Mili NIFUSI)

The buzz of the event seems to have provided morale to record numbers of young, talented new immigrants from Turkey. Our reach is expanding. Hopefully also to the Israeli HR. Professionals in Israel! We come from a multicultural society, with vast experience in a large economy and reputable degrees from universities (you should become familiar with). We are ready to work hard! Give us a chance!

There are a lot of talented, young or mid-career Turks in Israel who are looking to bring their multicultural and high-volume business experience to your company!

Contact us if you have any opportunities or ideas, at turkishisraelnetwork@gmail.com, and we’ll share it with the Network!

And of course please share this story far and wide with YOUR network!

*Pseudonym.

About the Author
Rozi Levi is a recent olah who grew up in Izmir, Turkey. She is studying towards a Master's in Public Policy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
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