#InternAbroadBecause it will open your eyes to the world around you

Stasia Lopez's picture

Rachel Bukowitz is a sociology and environmental studies major at the University of Pittsburgh. She interned at the Israeli Wildlife Hospital during the summer of 2014 where her responsibilities focused on caring for sick and injured animals [primarily young ones in the nursery] and then releasing the animals back into the wild. Since returning from her internship abroad, Rachel’s become very active in Hillel, taking on leadership roles like an internship and fellowship; serving as President of Lambda Sigma Honor Society; and is currently the premier Global Career Intern for the Office of Career Development and Placement Assistance. Read Rachel’s interview below to learn more about her experience with interning abroad!

Rachel Bukowitz - #InternAbroadBecause it will open your eyes to the world around you

What motivated your decision to intern abroad? How/why did you choose where to go?

I wanted to go back to Israel after visiting for a short time in the winter. I found a program called Onward Israel that was very economically feasible and sounded like an overall great opportunity. I needed something to do over the summer, so I figured, why not intern in Israel?

How did you find your job? What resources did you use?

After I was accepted onto the Onward Israel program, I had a phone interview with an internship coordinator. She listened to my interests and then found Israeli businesses that matched what I wanted to do. I ranked the businesses in order of the ones I was most interested in to the ones I was least interested in. I also sent her my resume which she sent out to the businesses. The Israeli Wildlife Hospital was my first choice because it was a hands-on opportunity for me to do something I had never done before. They liked my resume and then accepted me as their intern. 

 Rachel Bukowitz - #InternAbroadBecause it will open your eyes to the world around you

What was your experience like? Can you share some favorite memories - and challenges?

My experience was amazing. I had a beautiful apartment in Tel Aviv with a great view. I interned four days a week, and would take an educational trip on the fifth day. I learned so much from both my internship and the educational trips I took. The trips usually focused on conflict in the Middle East, so I got to see the West Bank and hear from Arab and Israeli speakers. In my internship, I worked primarily in the nursery at the hospital, caring for the young injured or sick animals. My biggest challenge was that Israel was in conflict with the Gaza Strip during the time I was there. Consequently, there were rockets being fired back and forth which meant roughly twice a day, I had to go to a bomb shelter and wait for the threat to pass. It was a very eye-opening experience. It was a challenge to explain to my parents that I was all right, and unfortunately I had to leave my internship early because they were worried about my safety. It was a very real and authentic part of Israeli culture that I was able to experience. 

Rachel Bukowitz - #InternAbroadBecause it will open your eyes to the world around you

Releasing a bird

What skills did you develop from your experience? Do you feel changed from your experience abroad?

I really learned how to be independent. I lived in my own apartment, and was responsible for getting to work on my own. I took a thirty minute bus ride to and from work every day. I was very proud of myself for accomplishing this because I did not speak much Hebrew. I really learned how to get around on my own. It was scary at first, but then I became used to it and it was great. Now I am much more confident in my abilities. 

Has your experience helped you get to where you are today? If so, how?

My experience has absolutely shaped who I am today. I became much more involved with Hillel after returning from my trip in Israel. Since then, I have acquired leadership positions such an internship and a fellowship at Hillel. I also have more of a desire to go abroad after college now. Above everything else, I am now more confident in myself because I was able to successfully manage living in a foreign country. 

Any advice for students thinking about working overseas? What are some highlights or things that you gained or changed your perspective?

Do it!! It may be scary to think about being so far away from your family and friends, but it is absolutely worth it. It's an amazing opportunity that opens your eyes to the world around you. You really get to experience other cultures and independence. 

How has international education impacted or influenced your cultural identity? 

After going to Israel, I feel much more connected to my Judaism. I have started to study Hebrew in school and attend campus events about Israel. I am really hoping I will be able to go back again soon.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

International interning is a learning opportunity that is simply not possible to get in a college classroom. I am a firm believer that it is an experience that as many people as possible should get to have. 

 Rachel Bukowitz - #InternAbroadBecause it will open your eyes to the world around you


#InternAbroadBecause it will open your eyes to the world around you



Stasia Lopez is the Global Education Editor for Wandering Educators and is also a Career Consultant at the University of Pittsburgh. She graduated with her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Western Michigan University and earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Robert Morris University. Stasia is passionate about international education, travel,  and loves working on a college campus. She’s lived in four different U.S. states (Florida, Michigan, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania) and also studied and lived abroad in Rome, Italy. Stasia lives in the Pittsburgh area with her husband, Fernando.


All photos courtesy and copyright Rachel Bukowitz