My surprising experiences spending the summer working for a startup in Israel as an American University student

How my experiences taught me about the workplace environment, Israeli startup culture and the fun lifestyle associated with living in Israel
Enjoying Tel Aviv with friends during the summer. Photo Courtesy: Alison Comite

In the spring of my sophomore year of college, I had to really think about what I wanted to do that summer and also where I wanted to be located. Since I had done a gap year in Israel, I have always tried to find ways to go back. I went on Young Judaea Year Course and lived in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. To me, Israel would be the ideal place to work for the summer: the weather is amazing, the beaches are easily accessible, and the nightlife is vibrant. After deciding on the location, I knew I needed to find a job I was passionate about. I was loosely interested in business development because of the myriad of opportunities available within the ever growing landscape of startups. Therefore, I started looking for business development positions within technology startups. I spoke to some friends who had interned in Israel in summers past to get a feel for various companies’ cultures, and I started cold emailing companies immediately. I, sort of, knew what I was looking for and wanted to give it a shot, any way I knew how!

After a long interview process, I was finally offered a job as a business development intern for A.Team, which is building the world’s first distributed, on-demand team formation platform. A.Team was founded at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic with the idea that work should be remote, and is most efficiently outsourced in teams, rather than individually. My two main roles at A.Team included managing our leads pipeline using a customer relationship management (CRM) platform and database and to work with the COO to streamline the customer success process.

At atmosphere that stimulates collaborative projects. Photo via Mindspace Tel Aviv Gallery

Every day, I was fortunate to work in a shared workspace, which is common in the Israel high-tech world. I worked at the Mindspace co-working space on Rothschild boulevard (a fabulous location). These offices are new “flex” spaces that allow companies to work alongside other startups, benefiting all tenants by lowering their individual costs and by fostering an incubator-like space: “With WFH (working from home) fatigue, fluctuating personnel numbers, and hesitancy to commit to long-term leases or infrastructure investment,” these co-working spaces are the ideal solution.” Learn more about the rise of co-work spaces!

Working in Israel is very different from working in the United States. Many Israelis who work in High-Tech previously served in elite intelligence units in the army and approach their work with a similar mindset. As their military training emphasized resourcefulness, many of their approaches and solutions are extremely creative and out of the box. In fact, many companies around the world turn to Israelis to try and mimic their approach! In their work environments, Israelis embody the “mishpacha” (family) mindset and this affects their work-life balance as well. The workplace culture is not as fast-paced as the United States, but the work is still done brilliantly. Read more about the Chutzpah that drives the Israeli ecosystem!

Skydiving over Israel takes a bit of chutzpah! Photo courtesy: Alison Comite

As I take the time to reflect on my summer job experience in Israel, I wish it never ended! Living in Israel was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, especially over the summer when there was barely a cloudy day. The place was amazing but the people were even better: I learned so much about the Israeli workplace environment and professionally gained so many skills that I was able to take back home to school and eventually my career. I even continued working for A.Team remotely during my fall semester because I truly loved the work I was doing with them. My internship experiences significantly helped me with the job recruiting process later as a junior.

The opportunity to work in a startup environment in Israel is not one that should be glimpsed over. There are Israeli startups in every field, each unique in their own way. The culture of Israeli startups is one of family, learning, and care, working to make the world a better place. The opportunities are countless, and as they say in Israel, “קופץ למים” (kofetz le mayim), meaning jump into the water, a metaphor for go for it. The impactful environment of startups is worth experiencing, and worth helping. Thank goodness there are so many to choose from.

Groundbreaking Israel content is developed by ISRAEL21c’s Digital Ambassadors.

Alison Comite is a student at the University of Pennsylvania. Find her on LinkedIn here.

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