As an incoming junior at the University of Southern California majoring in Communication, experiential learning and research, study abroad and internships are highly encouraged. So, when I was offered the opportunity to intern at GK, it became clear that this summer I would have the chance to do all of those things and more.
For many, interning at a company in a foreign country– especially a country with a culture vastly different from that in the US — is extremely daunting. I expected to shadow various projects and assist with tedious, monotonous tasks generally assigned to interns. I never imagined how integrated I would become in the day-to-day of GKPR in the short month that I have been here.
In just 3 weeks, I have already had the opportunity to “live-tweet” from a major cybersecurity conference, write a blog for a tech company, participate in brainstorms and meetings with both new and old clients, and learn about public relations, media, tech and so much more in between.
From my first day, it was clear to me that the warm company culture was a huge part of what makes GK an amazing place to work. However, I also believe that the Israeli culture that surrounds us in our offices in WeWork Hazerem and throughout the “Start-Up Nation” is a main contributor to my overall experience.
One major difference is the casual environment. To any future American interns reading this, you should know that business casual really means “not shorts and a tank top.” But the effectiveness of this casual lifestyle transcends dress code. In my experience so far, it has created a sense of openness and welcoming, that has made me feel extremely comfortable in the office, encouraged me to ask more questions and learn more as a result.
Another difference I’ve noticed is that Israelis are not as caught up in the culture of internships that exists in the States. Nowadays, both small and large companies have designed specific and competitive programs meant to fast track students into the workforce. Here in Israel, the less formal setting has allowed me and my co-interns to smoothly integrate and truly feel like we are part of the team (I don’t know any other interns who share a desk with the Managing Director).
Often in the States, interns are only able to work directly with the intern supervisor or coordinator; however, GK’s office is structured in a way that fosters teamwork and collaboration across the entire company. Not only do I learn from the projects and project leaders that are assigned to me, but I can also participate and contribute to other topics in the office at any given time.
While Israeli culture certainly creates an apt environment for learning in general, it is even more beneficial when it comes to learning about the world of public relations. Getting ample coverage for clients requires a lot of persistence with different journalists and outlets; in Israel, persistence is a nice way to say chutzpah. A little chutzpah goes a long way, and there is no better place to learn it than here in Israel.
Overall, having any kind of international working experience is valuable in our hyper-connected society, but an internship in Israel helps break down common barriers that students encounter at a first job. It is important for millennials to understand and learn from different cultures and people in order to truly succeed in the workforce and beyond. While challenging at times, working in Israel has been an extremely positive experience, and I hope that many others take the opportunity to pursue similar internships. The key, though, is finding another company like GK 😉 .