“It’s funny. I love sociology because it’s like reading a textbook every day; you really are able to observe everything that is happening as it’s occurring.”
Rachel Abramowitz is a continuous learner. And a solution provider. And tells great stories. And is a former JEVS’ Franklin C. Ash Summer Intern. So while we can’t take all the credit (or even a large amount of it) for the fabulous success that she’s had in finding her niche as the Engagement Associate at Philadelphia’s own Tribe 12, we are going to tell you about it.
Picture it: 2014. During her sophomore year at college, Rachel decided to apply for the Ash Summer Internship Program.
“I think I was looking for a way to gain work experience, but also stay connected,” she remembered. “At Tribe 12, we realize that there’s a bit of a gray area as young Jewish adults might feel disconnected or unengaged as they make the transition to a Jewish adulthood – and joining Ash was a way of staying connected, through the nonprofit community. Plus, my cousin was in the program, so I knew it would be fun.”
Placed with Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia, Rachel’s strong work ethic and interest in the nonprofit’s mission led her to some startling revelations.
“I started to envision myself working in this type of environment,” she said. “So you had college and the theoretical applications of sociology, but now doing grant research, and working on a development campaign…it all made sense. You could see the big picture of the community needs, and how the individual impacts keep that strong.”
Those individual impacts are also a large part of the Ash Summer Internship Program, as Rachel and her fellow interns served as mentors for high school-age mentees, guiding them with valuable college and life advice, while completing a Mitzvah project and enjoying group activities.
“So my mentee was great,” she said. “And we talked about college life, and what to expect, but the thing I remember most is how we completed ‘The Amazing Race’ competition in the program – realizing that we didn’t care if we won, so we were just going to get FroYo and smoothies and hang out, chatting, throughout the city.”
“We came in last. But it was the mentor-mentee relationship that was important.”
Just two years later, out of college and “freaking out a little,” Rachel realized that it was her networking relationships that were suddenly important.
“I had a good first job out of college, helping students get to study abroad,” she said. “But it was definitely challenging to work from home, by myself; I wanted to be around people! I’m pretty social, and so when that job ended, four or five people suggested that I look at Tribe 12.”
Having received interview training as part of the Ash Summer Internship, and combined with her previous experience, Rachel felt confident in her application.
“I knew that I had something to offer – and I think I gained a bit of that confidence during the interviewing workshop, and through the internship experience itself. The Ash Internship team also spoke about salary negotiation, and I felt that if I could convince my (now) bosses that I possessed the skills, that my time was worth it…that it could all work out.”
And work out it has – Rachel’s role has her serving as something of a jack-of-all-trades, helping to connect adults in their 20s and 30s to Jewish Life and Community in Philadelphia. As with many small nonprofit agencies, she collaborates closely with her coworkers and wears many hats: from event planning, to outreach, to digital marketing and relationship management. Perhaps most importantly, Rachel meets prospective members one-on-one.
“I sit down with people, and try to figure out how we can help them accomplish their goals,” she said. “That could be someone who is new to Philly, or someone who is looking for social interaction, or networking opportunities, or leadership skills.”
The varying needs that she hears are all part of a larger puzzle and struggle to Rachel, wearing her sociologist hat once more.
“Everyone is looking for something, and I just want people to know that they’re welcome here – Tribe 12, Philadelphia, the community,” she said. “That there’s a place for them. If we figure out someone’s goal, then we can help work toward a solution; if we can provide resources or opportunities or a community as that solution, then, to borrow a Hillary Clinton phrase, we’re doing the most good we can.”
As for Rachel’s future? Well, it seems pretty tied in to all this somehow.
“If there’s a problem, I want to fix it,” she said. “Even now, whether that’s data analysis, mentoring, fundraising, it is wide open. But I’m so pleased to be a part of anything that contributes to people living their best lives where they are.”
The Franklin C. Ash Summer Internship is presently seeking Jewish college students who will be juniors or seniors during Fall of 2018; for details, click here, or to apply, visit jevshumanservices.org/ash-internship/
Tribe12 is devoted to connecting Jewish 20s/30s adults with community in Philadelphia; enriching their experiences, building communities and helping them to sustain those connections for the future. Learn more at tribe12.org or visit their great community calendar of events at GoBeJewish.com