May 6, 2014
Sharona Kern is a pre-med sophomore at Barnard College. She is also a board member of LionPAC, Columbia University’s non-partisan pro-Israel group. Sharona loves trying new things, especially food. Sharona’s idea to organize a career fair to connect college students to Israeli start-ups, businesses and technology companies was chosen to receive a #MakeItHappen micro grant! #MakeItHappen asked young Jews from around the world to submit ideas for what they would do to create a meaningful experience in their Jewish communities. With the support of several community partners, more than 150 ideas were selected to receive a $1k or $5k micro grant to help them go from dream to reality!
Describe your #MakeItHappen project idea and how it came to life. I realized that my idea of organizing an Israeli Start-Up Career Fair and focusing on Israel as a world leader in technology would create a great opportunity to connect students on my campus to Israel in a meaningful way. We started working on this project about 6 months ago and the excitement for the event was contagious; word spread and slowly things came together. On the day of the event, the food was ready, the companies were there and over 100 students were pre-registered. It turned out to be a great event!
What was your favorite moment from your #MakeItHappen event? My favorite moment during the career fair was when I took a break from signing people in and looked around the room to see students, Jewish and non-Jewish, of all levels of affiliation, speaking to Israeli employers with looks of excitement on their faces. It was a really great feeling to know that not only did we help connect these students to Israel through this event, but we offered them an opportunity to continue forming this connection throughout their life if in fact they do get hired.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in putting your idea into action and how did you overcome this? My biggest challenge that I faced was finding companies to attend the event. Since it was our first year holding this career fair, we had no name for ourselves yet in the "start-up world." We had to be able to convince employers that coming was going to be worth it. I overcame this challenge by reaching out to as many people as I could - friends of friends, anyone with a connection! I explained to them why I was passionate about it, and they helped me find great companies to attend.
If you could plan a follow up event, what would it look like and why? If I could plan a follow-up event I would do a series of talks, co-sponsored by campus entrepreneurial groups, on Israeli start-ups and technology and bring in a variety of speakers. There is clearly an interest for this type of offering on campus, so hopefully that can be arranged. Additionally, I would love to see the career fair repeated next year and be even bigger and better!
What does your future hold? I plan on going to medical school and moving to Israel after graduation. While I'm there I will continue to keep an ear out for Israeli technological successes! Read more about Sharona's project here!
The Schusterman Philanthropic Network is proud to empower emerging leaders to explore their values, identity and new ways to strengthen their communities. We believe that as we work together to repair the world, it is important to share our diverse experiences and perspectives along the way. We encourage the expression of personal thoughts and reflections here on the Schusterman blog. Each post reflects solely the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, its partner organizations or all program participants.