Winning pics - My time in Israel

Winning pics - My time in Israel
Sunset on Kibbutz Mashabei Sade

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Master of my fate!

There is no doubt in my mind that we all have the power to make things happen in our lives. Yes, circumstances knock us around and our emotional state can weaken our resolve, but our lives are filled with possibility and it’s all about finding that proverbial needle in the haystack with courage and determination.

Invictus – unconquered, undefeated! I watched the movie, Invictus, recently about former South African President Nelson Mandela and how he made use of the Springbok rugby team, its captain, Francois Pienaar and the Rugby World Cup in 1995 to help unify a very divided South Africa.In the film, Madiba (his clan name and the one most South Africans use) talks of the 1875 poem, Invictus, by William Ernest Henley, and how he used the words to lift him up in his darkest moments on Robben Island. The last lines – “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul” – really resonated for me, especially considering the past six weeks of my Aliyah.

Catch 22
I’d been experiencing many different emotions about having to move off the kibbutz that had been my home for the first 14 months of my time in Israel, wanting to stay, yet knowing it was time to go. Leaving friends behind – again – was making me wonder if I’d made the right decision – again.
I had some asking me why I was leaving. Some asking me to stay. Many were generous enough to offer me a place to stay when I visited the kibbutz. Some days I felt like I was making a mistake. After all, I could do my work from anywhere. Other days, I knew if I didn’t get out of there, I would become complacent. I needed to get more active in my life in Israel. I needed to experience different things. I had to look forward and make the change. (Read “Catch 22” on my personal blog for a more personal perspective.)
At the end of July, a month before I moved to Tel Aviv, I had no idea how I was going to pay my rent at the end of every month, let alone pay for all the other expenses related to moving. I had no full-time job, very little freelance work (August and September are very quiet months in Israel) and no possibilities.
The freelance work I’d been doing thus far had been sufficient to keep me going while living on the kibbutz, but I knew I needed more for the city.
I had been through all the job websites and emailed many companies looking for staff – part-time and full-time. I think I received two or three responses to the dozens of emails, all saying the same thing… we’ll be in touch. None of them ever followed-up. I’m not saying these methods don’t work, but I was getting desperate and had to find another avenue.
I had heard from many people over the past year that it was hard to find a job in one place when you were living in another and that it would be easier to find work once I was in Tel Aviv. But I couldn’t take the chance of moving without knowing I had an income. And besides, I could now say I would be living in Tel Aviv in a few weeks. So I went on the hunt.

Taking charge
Instead of waiting for job listings to come through from the Aliyah Job Centre website, or from Israemploy or Janglo or any of the other job listings I’d found, I decided to go for the jugular. The companies themselves. Something I should’ve done months before.
One of the companies I found – an international public relations consultancy – had a strong English presence on the Internet, something unusual for an Israeli company and interesting for me because of my poor Hebrew. I decided to email them. Focused. Direct. Going right to the horse’s mouth and not through an agent or Internet job site.
Within 24 hours, I had received a response from the manager of the international division asking me to meet with him that week in Tel Aviv. Had a great meeting with him, but he couldn’t promise there’d be anything available at that time. Not long after, he called to ask me to come in to meet his chairman the following week. A good sign.

Not to put all my eggs in one basket, I had emailed and met with a few newspaper and magazine contacts to see if there was anything going in the media. I had also been in touch with a few friends to see if they knew of anything. One of them forwarded my CV to the marketing department of his company. Another sent me a contact for a potential writing position. Things were slowly starting to happen.
My second interview with the PR company went very well. And things started to look even more promising. On the way back to the kibbutz, I received a call from my friend’s contact – a foreign exchange trading company – asking me to come to their offices in Herzliya for an interview.
The day of the second interview arrived. A week before my move. No word from the other company. I was stressed to say the least. I began the trek to Herzliya. A two-and-a-half hour trip from the kibbutz. I was sitting in the reception waiting for the interview to start when I received a call from the first company. Can you come in to meet the CEO tomorrow? Sure. But can we make it that afternoon as I was already in the area? No problem.
The Herzliya interview went very well and it sounded like an interesting position – more copywriting for online advertising than feature writing – but a challenge nonetheless. I went off to the PR company. The CEO wanted to discuss details. I asked if he was offering me the job? Yes, he said. It’s yours if you want it. Part-time for the first two months and full-time from November. I could feel the relief course through my body and the tension lift from my shoulders.
As soon as I got onto the train back home, I began to sms and call my friends. I couldn’t focus on what I was reading. When I arrived back on the kibbutz, I emailed the Herzliya company that I’d been offered a position and had accepted it. As much as I would’ve liked to follow through with the other company just to find out if they wanted me and what I’d be earning, I couldn’t do it. My conscience wouldn’t allow it.
But now I could focus on my move knowing I had work when I arrived.

In Israel, there’s a common piece of advice given to olim (immigrants). Use your contacts. Use whoever you know – family, friends, people you’ve met who have offered help – anyone who may be able to help you find work. It’s called “proteksia” and it’s kind of like the mafia. In some ways, it’s a good thing, and in other ways, it can be seen as “not kosher” – the way nepotism is often viewed. However, I believe – and always have – that a friend or family member can get you a job, but only you can keep it.
I had “used” my contacts very successfully during my first year. Through the people I knew, and word of mouth, I had found enough freelance writing and photography to keep me going. It was good to know that my friends were “looking out for me”.
But I also knew I couldn’t continue to rely on others to find me work. People have their own lives to live and are usually so busy managing themselves that they don’t always have time to think of others, no matter how much they may want to help.
I had done it. I had found myself a job without nagging friends or pushing myself on other people. It made me feel good. It made me feel like the “master of my fate”.

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