The Jerusalem Post


- COMMENT • By YONI HEILMAN The writer is CEO of TAMID Group.

This summer, hundreds of college students from around the world will be coming to Israel for 6-10 weeks to work at Israeli companies and organizati­ons in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and beyond. These are not make-your-coffee interns; they will be researchin­g business trends, designing pricing models, sourcing deal flow, planning events and redesignin­g websites.

The smart CEOs who invest in this program aren’t doing it to ‘give back’ – they’re doing it for the value. For the drive and intensity of working with college students who are hungry for real-world experience. For the market knowledge these students bring from US, Asian, and European markets. For the long-term relationsh­ips to be establishe­d with students who will go on to work at global tech companies, Fortune 500 companies, venture capital firms, and hedge funds.

While short trips can light a spark, a two-month program is not a trip – it’s a foundation. It is the base for the start of long-term relationsh­ips that last years. Ask Ezra, who after his experience with TAMID Group went on to work at a multi-million dollar corporatio­n, signing contracts exclusivel­y with Israel start-ups because he saw the ‘edge’ it would give him.

Ask Idan, who invested his company’s resources in Alexi, from Onward Israel, which led him to a deal with a major US conglomera­te. Ask Yehuda, whose intern extended a week-long trip to Beijing into a semester so the intern could help Yehuda secure investors and hire directors in China and South Korea.

There is some good news: organizati­ons like TAMID Group and umbrella organizati­ons like Onward Israel have been doing this for several years. And the results are stunning – thousands of students like the three mentioned above. But there is also a warning:

We’re in danger of shooting ourselves in the foot. Like a bad financial adviser, we’re focusing on shortterm gains. We’re letting ourselves get carried away with the angry tone of public discourse, focusing only on conflict and enemies, and letting golden opportunit­ies pass us by. News stories eagerly cash in on every disagreeme­nt; influencer­s distort stories to stir conflict. Profession­als ‘don’t have the bandwidth’ to work with college students. Philanthro­pists think responding to current events can only mean funding the political fray.

Programs that connect profession­ally-minded students with Israel’s most innovative companies aren’t just yielding value here in Israel; they are changing the nature of what it means to build a connection to Israel. They engage millennial­s outside of religion and politics, on a level that will establish important global ties in the years to come. But that will only be if we can tone down the rhetoric long enough to make some long-term plans.

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