When I graduated from Penn State in 2019, I thought I’d work as a mechanical engineer for the rest of my life. After all, that’s what I had earned my degree in. I started a job doing process engineering and managerial work at a factory following graduation, but soon realized it wasn’t the right fit for me. I was looking for my next opportunity, and that’s when I discovered fintech.
I realized fintech was the perfect industry for me. It was a combination of my technical background with personal finance, which was a hobby of mine. I invested in stocks and real estate and learned about blockchain and cryptocurrency for fun—finding an industry that catered to my interests was very exciting.
I became determined to work in this field. After a trip to Israel, I fell in love with the country, and everything seemed to click all at once. I decided that I’d work in the fintech industry in Israel, which has the second-largest fintech scene in the world.
It was the perfect alignment of the stars.
I applied for and became a Fellow with Masa Israel Journey. Masa, an organization founded by The Jewish Agency and the government of Israel, offers life-transforming, long-term opportunities in Israel that allow Fellows, ages 16-35 from around the world, to shape their own future. I ended up landing a strategic consultant internship at Equitech Financial Consulting in Tel Aviv. I started in December of 2020 and my internship ended in September, providing me excellent exposure to the many verticals of fintech. From this, I was able to narrow my focus and begin working in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space, a fast-paced area of innovation that has held my interest over the last few years. I also completed my Aliyah and became an Israeli citizen due to the amazing opportunities I discovered in Israel.
Before I came to Israel, I pictured that it was a destination with great food, historical sites, and lively people. All three boxes were checked immediately upon arrival. Additionally, I discovered that Tel Aviv is a true melting pot. There are South Americans, Russians, Ethiopians, and other people from all corners of the world. Though I was the only American guy in my building, I’ve made friends with people from faraway places and can now converse in basic conversational Hebrew, too, thanks to intensive ulpan.
Working in fintech in Tel Aviv I realized that it covers so many more verticals than just payments including cybersecurity, open banking, and embedded finance. My definition of it really evolved during my Masa program.
I’ve also seen that fintech is an industry that tries to disrupt what we view as traditional finance, and a lot of people in it have this hustler mentality – they recognize an area that needs to be changed, and then they try to change it. It’s incredibly inspiring.
People call Israel the start-up nation, and it’s easy to see why. The government is supportive of small businesses and start-ups that are looking to grow, and because of this support, the Israeli work ethic thrives. Companies here are innovative and fast-paced. I feel drawn to this work ethic because the people here are scrappy go-getters yet still always find time to enjoy life—compared to the U.S, where there is usually a much sharper distinction between time at work and personal time.
I’m excited about my journey ahead in the fintech field. I don’t know what I will be doing five years from now – in fact, who knew I’d be interning in Israel in 2021? However, what I do know is that I completed this program with great connections, background knowledge, industry experience, and a deeper appreciation for this beautiful country. If you’re looking to take the leap into uncharted waters or interested in pursuing a career in fintech, I’d say go for it—you never know what’s behind the third door!