Leveraging My Army Service in the Professional World
By: Jonathan Liebman, Summer Fellow, TAMID at Queens College
In Israel, everyone is required to do army service once they turn eighteen. Doing army service can mean anything from working behind a desk to being on the front lines or anywhere in between. Though I am not Israeli and was not required to serve in the army, I joined the army after spending a year in Israel learning in Yeshiva. Before I joined, all I thought was that I would do combat and learn how to fight in a war. Little did I know that I would pick up skills that would not only help me with my army service, but also in life after it. I am able to apply the different skills I picked up in my service to my studies as well as my professional career. This summer is no exception.
Israel is known as the Startup Nation for a reason. When young men and women go through life-changing experiences like the army at such a young age, they think differently; they are able to come up with creative solutions to problems because they have no other choice. Being small and vulnerable, Israel has and continues to face many challenges throughout its history. However, Israel continues to innovate to adapt to these struggles, developing technologies that improve the way of life for people all over the world.
I am lucky enough to work at a startup called Zeekit, where the founder and CEO of the company, Yael Vizel, served in the air force. In the air force, she created simulations for aircrafts using topography of maps and would build houses and missile launchers on mountains for training exercises. Yael applies these skills and concepts to dressing people. The app allows customers to try on clothes before buying them to see how they look. Also, in the closet feature of the app, customers can mix and match outfits to see what works and what doesn’t. She always says, “It’s super easy to dress up maps, it’s the hardest thing to dress up women”.
Yael took the skills she learned in the army and applied it to real life. Today, she is a CEO of her own company and is well known throughout the startup community. It doesn’t matter which part of the army one serves in; those who serve develop different types of skills that will undoubtedly help them in the professional world. As I join the professional world, I am realizing just how much the experiences I had in the army can and do positively impact my career.
I joined Zeekit as a data and analytics intern. I thought I would be analyzing how people use the app and help the product team make the app better. I did this for the first few weeks but didn’t feel like I was contributing as much as I wanted to, so I decided to take initiative on a different project that I thought would be more beneficial to the company. I decided to do an extensive competitive analysis comparing Zeekit to its competitors. I used the information I found and gave a presentation to my boss. I was shocked when, during the presentation, he was constantly taking notes and afterwards asked if I could send him my presentation to show investors.
During the army I developed a drive in me to always work harder, and push myself to take action. It was this drive I developed during my service that empowered me to take initiative at work. I hope to one day, like Yael, use my experience from the army to create my own company and achieve the success that she has achieved.