USIC Blog Archive

US Israel Center Blog

  • Week 10: A Summer To Remember

    August 24, 2014
    by Vance Lopez

    Ten weeks down and homebound. How does one wrap-up an altogether transformative working experience? With four easy questions (below).

    AirportIsrael was fun, tough at times, hot, a constant learning experience, a joy on the palate, in the midst of war, breathtaking, deeply enriching. It wouldn’t be complete without a final air raid siren, followed by a booming Iron Dome interception, to see us on our way as we were checking-in for our flights home. Nerve-racking to say the least.

    Our final week consisted of travel and touring and it was a perfect wrap up to the summer. Understanding a bit of both the ancient and modern history of the land provides telling context to the conflicts and personalities that dominate life in Israel.

    What moment or experience had the most impact on you while working in Israel?

    Jamie: [Answer to follow]

    Vance: The many interactions that have exposed me to the collective persona of Israelis has stuck with me the most. I feel I was just beginning to understand some of what comprises the “start-up nation.” Chutzpa was supposed to be the personality trait that made Israelis difficult to work with. I experienced the opposite. Sure, I witnessed elevated confrontation in the office, but it seemed very natural (perhaps military training played a part) and conducive to an efficient work environment. It was a directness that was for the sake of accomplishing the task, for making marked improvement. I also became mindful of a hyper-awareness among Israelis to an outsider’s perception of Israel, no doubt made more intense due to the Gaza conflict and deteriorating world perception. I think it is all related – Israeli’s are direct and want to get to the heart of the issue so that they can begin improving the situation/product; there’s no time to waste with semantics.

    How has this experience helped you to build your intercultural competence, develop essential entrepreneurial management skills, hone technical skills, and develop professional networks. How did you contribute to the company you worked for?

    ChurchJamie: [Answer to follow]

    Vance: My work at DRiiVZ, a late-stage start-up, comprised mainly of market research and data analysis. I developed forecasts for market growth and projection models for energy costs of electric vehicle owners. Given that a lot of my research was of different countries, I had to be creative and persistent to find the information I needed. Some of my work will be used to present to potential investors and to policy makers in Israel for legislation regarding home-charging.

    Working in office with only Israelis was a great experience for me. I needed to adapt to Israeli workplace culture which is stripped of the rigid hierarchy often seen in the U.S. corporate world. It is a culture that embraces skepticism and welcomes second-guessing in order to get the job done correctly and deliver high quality services. There is no room for passive language. I also was exposed to the inner workings of a start-up company, my first such experience and an invaluable one that provided great insight as to the management skills needed to balance expansion with existing services given limited human capital.

    In your opinion, why is this program important in the context of the California-Israel Memorandum of Understanding?

    Jamie: [Answer to follow]

    TrailVance: This internship embodies the spirit of the MOU. It “enhance[s] opportunities for cultural and educational exchanges, economic partnerships, and social entrepreneurship on the local level” (see blog post 8) and “enhance[s] business relationships and educational opportunities to foster job creation and incubate global solutions.” Truly, it is an immersion experience that necessitates the development of human capital to the benefit of both Israel and California, and by extension, the world. The personal exchanges created by this program can only enhance the California and Israel relationship by exposing Israeli businesses to high caliber MBA candidates and the skillsets they deliver (and potentially to university research), and California MBAs to world class business culture and technology.

    How has this program helped round out your MBA education? Why would you recommend this to other students?

    Jamie: [Answer to follow]

    Vance: 100% yes I recommend this internship program to other Rady students. This experience has enhanced my MBA well beyond my expectations. In addition to greatly developing business research skills, I’ve been privy to a workplace culture that differs greatly from the U.S. yet has much to offer in the context of an effective business environment. As such, it was an experience that provided an invaluable opportunity to develop my leadership and management repertoire. One of the greatest aspects of the program was the necessity to adapt and respond to a new and unfamiliar place, all while having a job. The program provided the basic support to get us to Israel and we took it from there. This in some regard is entrepreneurial in spirit and was fitting for a Rady MBA education. 

  • Week 9: Traveling Up North

    August 19, 2014
    by Jamie Weisman

    With 5 days left on this trip, we have successfully completed our internships and are now spending time traveling and relaxing a bit. It was bittersweet leaving Netafim. I met some smart, nice people, some of which I am lucky I can call friends.
  • Week 8: Doing Good

    August 10, 2014
    by Vance Lopez

    There are more nonprofits per capita in Israel than anywhere else in the world.
  • Week 7: Why I'm Loving My Israeli Life

    August 4, 2014
    by Jamie Weisman

    Time is flying by. Every day a new adventure, a new surprise. My friends in USA receive texts from me at 2 am Israel time and they ask me, Who is this night owl Jamie?
  • Week 6: Press On

    July 27, 2014
    by Vance Lopez

    Businesses are pressing on in spite of the fighting.