I thought I’d take a few paragraphs to reflect on this summer vs. last, as a second year Milken fellow. While both summers were equal in all around enjoyment and depth of learning, the content of the summers could not have been more different. I am already leaving Israel on Wednesday, so this would be a great time to look back…
Last summer Vance Lopez, a MBA classmate, and I spent the first week in Jerusalem with the Milken Fellows during an “orientation week” and then spent the remainder of the summer working for respective companies in Tel Aviv (I was working on research and business projects for Netafim.) We journeyed back to Jerusalem only a couple times, for example for the MOU Kick-off meeting at Rady, which we skyped in for from the Prime Minister’s office. (What a cool experience, thinking back!) As MBA students we appreciated the opportunity to learn from global, international corporations. Like I said last year, as interns, I feel Israel is a great place to learn and grow. Unlike in most USA corporations, in Israel there is less hierarchy. Interns are given real responsibility and opportunity to do meaningful, impactful work. High-level executives work more closely with interns and interns are encouraged to not only follow directions, but think independently, question the status quo, and voice opinions. Besides that, the relationships I was able to form at my company still exist today and I appreciate the support system of professional colleagues I was able to establish in such a short period of time.
This summer, on the other hand, I have been working directly with the Milken Innovation Center in Jerusalem as opposed to an Israeli company. One of my roles has been helping to keep the fellow program organized. I have helped Orly, who organizes the main Milken Fellowship Program in Israel, to plan speaker events, coordinate with other Rady past fellows/immersion program participants for networking opportunities, and have helped with work assignments and logistics. The fellowship program evolves year by year and it is such a multifaceted program that requires coordination from many levels. It has been exciting to be a part of this fellowship program formation.
Besides that, I have helped with the planning, execution, and follow up from a financial innovation lab about water ecosystem sustainability. I knew to some extent what I would be doing, but I could not have predicted the extent of immersion I’d experience into the progressive and fascinating world of Israeli water technologies. I have gained an overall high level view of what is going on here and how it has remedied the crisis that existed in Israel not long ago. In parallel, I have spent time reading and studying the water crisis in California and brainstorming ways that both California and Israeli technologies could be adapted to fit and fix the situation in California (note: I didn’t say drought- drought is temporary and would imply the need for temporary, quick fix solutions. What California needs is a long term, sustainable plan for holistic water system remediation.) My role has been geared more towards research, project development, and social finance.
Between both summers’ Fellowships I have gained a well-rounded experience that covers the gamut of topics studied in MBA as well as the challenges and opportunities of being a part of an international organization. I have had the opportunity to work with established companies as well as startups, industry executives and policy makers, for profit and non-profit organizations. I feel so grateful to have been a two-year Milken Fellow as part of the US Israel Center, and I look forward to taking my experience forward with me in my career.