An Internship that Really Works

“The first day, I was invited to a staff meeting and I barely spoke—but that was the last time. After that, I felt like an integrated part of the office,” remembers Rachel Neckes, who interned at Yad Chessed as part of the summer 2014 JVS/CJP Emerging Jewish Leaders Internship.

The internship is designed to give rising college juniors and seniors an unparalleled opportunity to learn about agencies and schools in their Jewish community, gain work experience and participate in weekly workshops to hone their job search skills.

“There’s got to be a better way.”

The Emerging Jewish Leaders Internship was established in memory of M. Bradley Jacobs, a Boston attorney who died in 2003, when he was just 40.

His widow, Jill Cohen, is a deeply involved leader within Greater Boston’s Jewish community. She was instrumental in securing the necessary resources to develop and implement the internship in collaboration with CJP, Jewish Vocational Service, and our local partner agencies.

With her own son now in college, she had seen how difficult it was for students to get meaningful on-the-job experience. Her husband had faced similar challenges—and had fewer networking opportunities—when he launched his career decades ago.

“I just thought, ‘there has to be a better way,’” says Jill. “My original idea was to match student interns with Jewish non-profits and businesses; but to start with, we decided to focus on our local agencies and schools.”

According to Judy Sacks, director of Career Moves at JVS, the program is already set to expand. “There was so much that was positive last summer that we’re very interested in continuing. For 2015, we’ll be placing 18 interns, up from 14 last year, and we’re especially reaching out to students with financial need. We’re also extending the program from 8 weeks to 10.”

Looking forward to Fridays

Alyson Weiss, the young adult outreach coordinator at JVS, says the internship is uniquely valuable to both the students and the organizations. “We had three goals for this program. First, we wanted to increase the capacity of the host sites. So donor funding provided through CJP covers the intern stipends. Second, we wanted to increase awareness among the students—the next generation of Jewish leaders—about the scope of work our agencies do. And of course, we wanted the interns to build their skills and resumes.”

One unique aspect of the program is JVS’s focus on giving the students practical job search and skill-building training and the opportunity to interact with local Jewish community leaders. Every Friday, all the interns gathered for workshops that included guest speakers from area agencies, LinkedIn tutorials, case studies and advice on informational interviewing. Across the board, last year’s interns say this is one of the most valuable takeaways from the program.

“I loved the Friday sessions—I didn’t realize then how applicable they would be,” says Hannah Fried-Tanzer, who interned at Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Boston (JBBBS).

Empowering interns

Samantha Daniels, who interned with the Refugee Services Department of JVS, says she was surprised at the level of work she was entrusted with.

“My supervisor, Mike Romani, instilled a confidence in me that I’ll carry with me into the workplace. He trusted me with big responsibilities; I was allowed room to grow, and I was able to make a real difference.”

Others in the co-hort echo her experience. Rachel Neckes says her mentor at Yad Chessed, Sarah Abramson, tried to achieve a “90/10” balance, meaning “90% meaningful work, 10% grunt work.”

According to Sarah, even the less-than-glamorous job of alphabetizing client files has made an incredible impact for the agency, which serves people in financial crisis with only four permanent staff.  She laughs and says, “I swear, having Rachel put those files in order probably did more for our efficiency than any other single task.”

But beyond the filing, Rachel was encouraged to attend meetings with community leaders and donors, and helped to develop a strategic development plan. “Before the internship, I don’t think I was even close to understanding the role that Jewish agencies play in social justice,” says Rachel. “I went from thinking about it theoretically, to seeing the value of day-to-day, hands-on work.”

Apply today!

Hannah Fried-Tanzer gives this advice to those interested in applying for 2015:

“Tell JVS what it is you want to learn on the job. They really take that into account and will place you somewhere that you want to be. And once you are on the job, take the feedback you get to heart. The people at JVS are a great resource at your disposal.”

Apply for the 2015 JVS/CJP Emerging Jewish Leaders Internship before the March 1 deadline!

M. Bradley Jacobs: Inspiring the Next Generation

The JVS/CJP Emerging Jewish Leaders Internship was established in memory of M. Bradley Jacobs, a respected Boston attorney and community volunteer who died unexpectedly at age 40 in 2003. He is survived by his wife, Jill Cohen, and by their children, Alexander and Moriah Jacobs.

Bradley began working when he was just 10 years old and eventually paid his own way through both college and law school. He began a distinguished legal career despite several significant battles with illness during his young adult years. Jill describes her late husband as “the hardest worker, and a great father. Being a dad was his mission in life.”

The JVS/CJP Emerging Jewish Leaders Internship honors the memory of Bradley Jacobs by giving students the leg up that he never had, and strengthening the Jewish community that he loved.