While Jacob Kieval , 25, of Sharon, Massachusetts, is only one of many graduates of the WUJS Israel program to return home to great professional opportunities, he may be the first one to immediately find a job with a popular reality show. After finishing his volunteer internship in Israel in 2010, he began working on NBC's hit musical show "The Voice".
After graduating from Washington University in 2009, Jacob decided to go to Israel to help figure out what professional path to take. Having spent a summer in Israel with USY Pilgrimage and three months during his senior year of high school, it was a logical choice. He researched various Masa programs and based on the internship component, WUJS turned out to be exactly what he was looking for, placing Jacob in Tel Aviv for his Israel experience.
One of Jacob's two internships was working at Meirav Productions in Ramat Gan, a company which produces commercials and promotional videos. His work included capturing footage and transferring media from one format to another, exposing him to a side of the business in which he had limited experience. While many stories have been told about people falling in love with their internships, propelling them to further pursue a career choice, often ignored are the stories where people have valuable experiences figuring out what they don't want to do. Through this experience, Jacob benefitted from realizing that this side of the industry was not a good fit for him. Though he thought he may have ended up in the wrong production house, his later experiences in Los Angeles only confirmed what he thought on the WUJS program.
In his second internship, Jacob worked for WUJS itself, creating and producing videos of the program participants which were sent out to their parents on a weekly basis, giving him more hands-on experience of video and film editing which is his real passion.
While not working, Jacob enjoyed his free time exploring Tel Aviv from the beaches and restaurants to the bars. Shabbat provided a valuable opportunity to take a break from traveling and spending money when Jacob would relax and enjoy time with friends. He said that his time in Israel allowed him to learn much more about the country on a practical level. More than seeing the sites, he got a real sense of what it's like to live in Israel day in and day out, using transportation and becoming familiar with city life.
As luck would have it, the director of WUJS at the time had a connection to Mark Burnett Productions, the production company responsible for such successful TV shows as "Survivor" and "The Apprentice". A few phone calls later, Jacob had landed a position in the music department of "The Voice" as an associate music producer in Los Angeles. Jacob works with the house band which backs the performers to make sure they know what music to play, helps them to acquire the lyrics and sheet music to prepare, and helps contestants prepare for their performances.
Jacob plans to stay in LA to see what this job leads to next and hopes to visit Israel every few years.
And to anyone considering a Masa program? Jacob says that WUJS is a great program for people looking for a great opportunity.