TAU's French Culture Program Helps Propel Careers
A vice-consul, a hi-tech worker, and a musician explain how the unique Program contributed to their professional accomplishments
There's something about Tel Aviv University's French Culture Program (Hebrew website) of the Faculty of Humanities, a certain "je ne sais quoi," which translates into happy graduates with exciting, wide-ranging - and perhaps even surprising - careers. Three young professionals, all graduates of the Program, tell us how it helped jump start their international careers.
First a few words about the Program, which allows you to discover the French language and the French culture at its highest level: You learn about intellectuals and artists who shaped the world as we know it today, from feminism to intellectuals streams, from democracy (liberté, égalité, fraternité) to avant-garde art and cinema. The Program offers both BA and MA studies, and during BA it's a dual program, which means that students follow an additional program in parallel. Tu ne parles pas français? No problem. The classes are all taught in Hebrew by bilingual teaching staff. You learn French throughout the Program.
Work in Israel's Foreign Ministry
Hanan Podolich, Vice-consul in the consular department of the Embassy of Israel in Paris: "Each day, my colleagues and I receive Israeli citizens and foreigners and provide them with consular services. I am the professional authority in the department, in charge of the smooth flow of the reception procedure, and I also cover for the Consul when he is absent," explains Hanan, who holds a BA degree in French Culture and Linguistics from TAU's French Culture Program.
"My studies helped me in two aspects: Firstly, and mainly, through the French language skills I acquired. While in the Program, I got to go abroad twice for summer school - the first time was in Vichy, France and the second was in Bruxelles, Belgium - to practice my French. It was incredibly reassuring to realize that I was capable of communicating with French speakers from all over the world. In my job, French facilitates the mutual understanding for both sides, especially when bureaucratic matters are at hand."
"My studies made me more familiar with the huge Jewish-Franco-Israeli community in France. I came prepared."
"Secondly, my studies made me more familiar with the huge Jewish-Franco-Israeli community in France. I came to Paris prepared. When speaking with people at the window, I already felt well 'acquainted' with them which allowed me to be more open to their needs.
The scholarships that I was given in order to participate in the summer schools helped me realize that I want to work with French speaking people and to showcase my country as well as I did with the young students I met during these summer schools sessions. In fact, it was thanks to those projects that I got in touch with the right people who later offered me the opportunity to work at the Embassy."
Join Israeli Hi-Tech
Maya Aharon, Risk Analyst at hi-tech company Riskified: "The company's main goal is to detect and prevent fraud in online orders using behavioral analysis. My job is analyzing online orders with our different programs to detect fraudsters and fraud rings, and to improve our automatic model. I love my job – our company protects customers and makes the online ordering world much safer," says Maya.
Maya at work, making the online ordering world safer
"Thanks to the French Culture Program I understand and speak the French language, the world's fifth most spoken language. Riskified works with merchants across the globe, and my French enables me to communicate with customers all over the world, not just in France."
"My French enables me to communicate with customers all over the world, not just in France"
Maya holds a BA from the French Culture Program, as well as in Political Science. "It’s a great combination of degrees," she notes. "In many of my Political Science classes, we'd learn about France, its history and politics, and my French Culture Program classes were super helpful."
"I couldn't be happier that I chose the French Culture Program. It is a wonderful program with lovely people and great professors, perfect for anyone who's interested in culture and in language," she concludes.
Become an Artist
Ram Menachem, professional musician who produces music for films and dance performances (enjoy his last album here), while also finding time to study towards his BA in the French Culture Program (he's about to start his third year) and in the multidisciplinary program of Humanities: "If you are into art, literature, poetry and languages; if you love French cinema, chansons, philosophy, I highly recommend the French culture program," he says.
Ram Menachem during a performance (photo: Kfir Bolotin)
"We live in a very confusing time, where we spend a lot of our time on social networks, like Tiktok, Instagram, Twitter. Our culture is very immediate, short lived and shallow. Studying French culture gave me the rare opportunity to dive deep into a piece, novel, painting, or a poem. Studying French culture and humanities made my life more meaningful, less shallow."
"Studying French culture gave me a rare opportunity these days - namely, to dive deep into a piece, novel, painting, or a poem."
Ram chose the Program mainly because of his love for culture. "The program," he says, "offers a wide spectrum of it, including history of arts, literature, philosophy, language, and even music. I also find French culture fascinating where 'liberal arts' and 'humanities' are concerned, as many of the major fields are French or influenced by the French thought, such as Michel Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari, Jean-Paul Sartre and many more. I'd definitely choose the Program all over again, if I were to choose today."
Find Out if It's for You
The high employment rate among the French Cultural Program's graduates, may be partly a result of its close cooperation with renowned French Universities, Israel's Ministry of Education (it provides a significant part of the Ministry's French teaching staff) and with non-profit organization Gvahim (which traditionally provides new immigrants and returning residents network, tools, knowledge, and support to find employment or establish their own businesses in Israel).
Jonathan Sitbon, who teaches at the Program and is also a writing expert at Israeli hi-tech company, Wix, adds: "Employment opportunities are plenty for our graduates. Hi-Tech companies, for instance, are in need of qualified workers with background in the humanities."
"In fact, whenever I was looking to recruit someone for my own team, I'd always first pay close attention to the candidates' broad and general skills - their curiosity, creativity, intellectual rigor, and their ability to structure thoughts through words. A great way to acquire these skills, is by diving into books and exploring the minds of great thinkers," he concludes.
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