Life Experience

When you make Aliyah, everyone tells you to take the first job you are offered – just take it. You will need the money, you will need the experience, and once you have your first job in Israel, everything will start to fall into place – and you can always quit if it doesn’t work out.

Like probably many new olim, I heeded this advice and took the first job I was offered, at one of Israel’s leading universities, as a temporary replacement for someone going on maternity leave. I was pumped to get my foot in the door at the university, and the job seemed like a perfect fit for me. I had been offered another part time position elsewhere, and I immediately phoned them to let them know that I had to decline their offer because I had just been offered full time work (and frankly, needed the money). My first job offer was exciting, I had scheduled my final HR meeting and my start date on my wall calendar, and even bought a pair of shiny new naot in celebration.

Then, I received a phone call from the initial HR woman who had screened me, informing me that they could no longer offer me the position, as they needed to re-hire another woman who had just informed them that she wanted to come back after her maternity leave. Legally, I believe, a woman can return to her place of work up to one year after taking leave, and the place of work must offer her a position. The HR woman told me that her hands were tied; they were excited to hire me and thought I’d be great, but they had no other open positions, and therefore my position was no longer available to me.

I was heart-broken. I had never really experienced this kind of unprofessionalism, and I learned the hard way that nothing is final until you sign a contract. Of course, in this time frame of roughly 3 weeks, I had told everyone I know about the offer, and was beaming to have a job lined up less than 2 months after making aliyah.

At this point, after halting my job hunt for 3 weeks, I had to start from scratch. I emailed and called every contact that I had, and every big company in the area that I thought looked interesting. I didn’t wait for open positions, I merely sent my CV to any email address I could find. Then one day I got a phone call from a non-profit who said that someone at the Hi-Tech park who I had randomly emailed, forwarded my resume for a writing position they were seeking out. I went in to interview for the position, not really knowing what I was getting into, and after 2 hour-long interviews on 2 separate occasions, I was offered the position.

The interviews were intimidating, as many interviews are, and I was told that this job was mostly content writing and translation, that there would be no room for growth, that the training period would last a year, and that they were offering me less than they had originally mentioned, due to my lack of experience. In retrospect, I should have realized that if they didn’t think I had the qualifications to get paid at the higher mark, I probably shouldn’t be taking this job just to spend the next period of my life proving my worth. And I would have been right.

The biggest red flag probably should have been the answer “no” when I asked if there was room for growth at the organization. Unfortunately for me, I was anxious to start working – the extra month sitting on my couch job hunting was taking its toll on me – and my husband and I were in need of an income. There were many other red flags that I didn’t realize were red flags until several months later, but I was enjoying meeting a whole new crop of young Israelis – who to my surprise, were almost all married with children – the beautiful office space, and the wonderful, supportive coworkers in my department. However, this job was not for me. I am not a technically trained grant writer, and though I am capable of composing proposals and reports, I would much rather be out in the field, meeting the people who receive the grants, or doing the work that I was writing about.

At about 5 months in, I decided I needed to get out. There were multiple factors that led to this decision, but ultimately, the job itself just wasn’t for me. I found myself bored and tired, and simply not interested. A part of me felt like I was giving up – that I wasn’t putting my all into this job, and I hadn’t even been there a full year, etc. But the reality is, adjusting to life in Israel is hard enough, I didn’t need a job that I hate on top of everything else.

I also decided that I wouldn’t leave until I had another great position lined up. I didn’t want to leave my position, which paid nicely enough, was a 10 minute walk from home, and was at least a stable working environment, for a job that I wasn’t thrilled about. I was very fortunate that a company that I have admired for years was hiring at just the right time, and I went in for an interview. The idea of getting to use my skill set, my background, and my passions in a dynamic, growing company with an excellent reputation – now, that was thrilling. They called to offer me the position, and I accepted it a week later. This new job will involve a lengthy commute and a totally different life-style, but I couldn’t be more excited about it.

Before accepting their offer, I had to really analyze my situation at my current job, and come to terms with the idea of quitting. Though I had been dreaming about quitting for some time, I had never really quit a job before. Not only did I not know how to quit, legally and technically speaking, but I also didn’t want to let down the coworkers that I have grown to love.

Ultimately, I made the choice I needed to make, and once the contract was signed, I informed my supervisor that I was handing in my resignation. I met with HR (who obviously assumed I was sitting her down to tell her I’m expecting – I’m not!), and I wrote a formal letter of resignation (in Hebrew!). Some of my colleagues were surprised, but everyone was supportive of my move. Yesterday was my last day at the organization, and honestly, I have never felt more at ease and proud of myself. I realized that I want a job that I can thrive in, where I can take responsibility, be confident, and ultimately – a job that values me, too – and I realized that it is possible to find that kind of job in Israel. I hope that my next adventure will give me the challenges and the experiences and the growth that I am seeking, and I hope it will contribute to an overall happier and more fulfilling life in Israel.

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Oh, and I also ran in the Beer Sheva 5K this month!

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