After graduating from the University of Toronto with a degree in human biology and psychology, I, like so many other recent graduates, still did not have clear career goals. I decided to explore my options in Israel and enrolled in Masa Israel’s Career Israel five-month internship program.
Growing up in a traditional home in Edmonton, Alberta, I was no stranger to the importance of Israel and Judaism. I had attended a Jewish day school, and I had been involved in several Jewish youth groups during high school and in Hillel during university. Spending a year on a Masa Israel program seemed like a natural step, but I had no idea how life-changing the experience would prove to be.
My previous trips to Israel consisted of family trips and structured programs. Career Israel was the first time that I had the freedom and time to really live in Israel. At the same time, I was able to take part in trips through the country and brush up on my Hebrew in an ulpan course.
I had two internships in Jerusalem that allowed me to gain experience in my field from different angles. At the Ministry of Health, I was responsible for compiling information for the health promotion department, researching programs designed for people living with HIV/AIDS and proper pharmaceutical use. Working in a governmental department gave me the opportunity to learn about the different health throughout the country and attend the Healthy Cities Conference.
I also interned in the public relations department at the ALYN Hospital, a non-profit pediatric rehabilitation hospital. There, I worked to spread awareness of its annual five-day charity bike ride, a cause I truly supported.
In addition to taking part in internships that opened my eyes to new options in my field, I found new meaning in Jewish holidays. On Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s remembrance day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror, I attended the Masa Israel ceremony on French Hill, where Israeli battles had been fought and people had lost their lives for the State. The program was extremely moving, with speakers that included victims of terrorist attacks and family members of brave fallen soldiers.
During my five months in Israel, I had the opportunity to meet hundreds of Jewish peers from all over the world, and get to know Israel with them, traveling the country on weekends. I now have friends from South America, France, England, and the United States, and was able to stay at the house of one of my Career Israel friends when I traveled to Europe after the program ended.
Since returning to Canada, I was hired as a science research assistant at the University of Alberta, a position that I am sure my internships helped me land. While in Israel, I had time to seriously think about what I wanted to do in the future and applied to nursing school.
I am truly grateful for my Masa Israel experience because it gave me the opportunity to deepen my connection to my homeland, while discovering my professional goals. I encourage more young adults to pursue a Masa program in Israel. It will change their lives.