Sarah Roden, ’14, and Sarah Stewart, ’14, grew up side by side. Friends since elementary school, their similar paths weren’t always intentional; in fact, when they were both accepted to the University of Richmond, they chose not to live together. But they both describe an organic overlap of life — joining the same sorority, making the same friends, and eventually living together during their junior and senior years.
Now they’re continuing their parallel paths in Israel, where the two are completing a five-month internship program through Destination Israel’s Tel Aviv Internship Experience. The program awards grants to Jewish students and recent graduates to pursue internships at start-ups, nonprofits, and government agencies, while also arranging Hebrew lessons and trips to explore other parts of the country.
Both saw the program as a chance to use a transitional time in life to experience living in Israel. Roden and Stewart both participated in the Chaplaincy’s Pilgrimage: Israel multifaith trip in 2012, and wanted to spend more time in the country.
For Roden, the decision to move to Israel became an obvious one during her senior year. “I found myself aimlessly applying for any job I saw,” she says. “I realized I didn’t want any of them. I figured this would be a good time to go and check out Israel, and see what I want to do afterwards.”
Stewart felt a similar pull, but faced a tough decision when she was offered a position with a global research company where she had a summer internship in 2013. “It was a really, really hard decision, because I worked there and I had all of these relationships with people,” she says. “But I knew I would never have a chance to do something like this again, and that it could completely redirect my career path for the rest of my life.”
The two moved to Tel Aviv in September and within a few weeks were placed with two companies in the technology start-up industry.
Stewart works for Any.Do, which created to-do list and calendar apps. She’s been working in customer support, bug fixing, search engine optimization, and social media. “The company is letting me take the ropes and work on anything that I want,” she says.
Meanwhile, Roden is interning is with TipRanks, a website devoted to measuring the performance of stock analysts and bloggers in order to create a transparent track record of stock recommendations that help investors make better-informed decisions. “I am writing content for the marketing department and doing research to keep up with the latest stock trends,” she says. “Everyone in the office is passionate about the success of the company and eager to teach me everything there is to know.”
Just a few months into their respective internships, both Roden and Stewart were offered full-time positions with TipRanks and Any.Do, and have decided to extend their stay in Israel. “It seems like we both fell into our companies at exciting times of growth and progress,″ Roden says.
While the two eagerly describe the chances they’ve had to launch their careers, their experiences living abroad are proving just as valuable.
“If you had told me one year ago that I would be working with a finance-based tech start-up in Tel Aviv, I probably would have laughed,” Roden says. “I am learning new skills every day — from stock market trends to surviving in a foreign country with limited Hebrew.
“But Tel Aviv is an amazing city. Between the history, the culture, and the nightlife, we’ve hardly had time to sit still.