I can’t believe that it has been seven full weeks and that my internship experience is almost over. As a college student going into my junior year, I am still very unsure as to what I would like to do for the rest of my life. However, working at The Hillels of Illinois and being around professionals who deeply care about the contributions they make in the Jewish community has helped me to better understand that, whatever I end up doing, a passion for my work is essential. Being in an environment where people are so passionate about Judaism and the Jewish people, though, does make the idea of working as Jewish professional very enticing. And I am hearing the same things from my fellow Lewis Summer Interns as their plans for the future take shape.
Alexandra Rudolph, for example, is a pre-med student working with the Chicago Center for Jewish Genetic Disorders. As the head of the student leadership committee for the Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Alex organized the genetic education week on her campus which inevitably led her to look into the Lewis Summer Internship Program. When asked how Judaism played a role in her decision to apply for this internship Alexandra responded, “I knew that I wanted an internship experience in the Jewish community because it is where I feel comfortable and know that I am always accepted. While developing my Jewish identity, I am surrounded by a network of individuals who support and appreciate the efforts of college students who are aspiring leaders of the future.” Through the internship Alexandra designed and created a video to be shown around the Jewish community about the importance of getting tested for Jewish genetic disorders and to help spread awareness specifically on college campuses. As a molecular biology major, Alexandra’s placement through the internship program matched perfectly with her devotion to helping people, her love for science and her strong connection to Judaism.
Brad Levin, a business major at Indiana Universtiy, is working with the Jewish Community Center in their accounting department. His initial interest in applying for the internship was focused around gaining real world work experience. Upon further exploration of the Lewis Summer Internship Program, Brad was enticed by the Jewish development aspect because growing up he didn’t always feel connected to the Jewish world. “I felt that, by having an internship with the Lewis Summer Internship Program, I would be able to interact and connect with people who have a stronger and deeper sense of their Jewish identity.” Brad has really begun to develop his own Jewish identity as a result of interacting with his fellow interns.
Whilte the diversity of job placements makes this experience tailored to each individual’s interest, the commonalities we share being young Jewish professionals have united us during both our seminars and during our Shabbat retreat.
The retreat took place half way through this internship program and it was definitely the point when I started to realize just how lucky I was to be a part of the Lewis Summer Internship Program. The interns were all part of planning the retreat, and it was amazing to create a Jewish experience for ourselves. From Kabbalat Shabbat to Havdallah, our group spent time learning what it meant to be part of something as special and unique as a Jewish community. The atmosphere that was created helped me be comfortable enough sharing my own Jewish journey and hearing about my peer’s cultural and spiritual experiences.
The foundation of Jewish involvement instilled within us through this program is preparing us to further our participation in community building as we continue through college and eventually enter the professional world. Through the Lewis Summer Intern Program, we are receiving invaluable skills that will undoubtedly set us up for success, and for that we are forever grateful.