Ivrit (Hebrew), Arabic
Form of government
Heartland 22,380 km²
New Israeli Shekel (ILS)
14th May 1948/5. Ijjar 5708
UTC+2/UTC+3 (summer time)
International dialling code
Israel has long attracted German students of social sciences and humanities or those looking to do voluntary work. But the country has many other specialisms in the financial and research sectors.
In Comparison with leading innovation ecosystems, Israel ranks as being one of the best locations for businesses and venture capitalists alongside Silicon Valley in California and the economic centres of Europe. It may seem surprising that Israel sees itself as a “start-up nation” despite its small size, relatively young economy and culturally heterogeneous society. But once you get to know Israel more closely you will see that the country itself is a sort of “start-up business” that constantly takes risks and strives to improve.
Israel’s history of innovation starts with the collective communities, the “kibbuzim”. These were set up by immigrants from over 130 countries and experimented with new farming methods and social structures. But the growing talent for innovation and an increasing willingness to take risks saw Israelis move into other sectors and use their expertise and skills to create the country’s first industries. The new immigrants had the courage to experiment and they saw the value of “chuzpe” which has encouraged generations of Israeli entrepreneurs to constantly try out new businesses. The team-working and problem solving skills as well as the technical expertise that they acquired during military service also contributed to the success of Israeli businesses.
The leading educational institutions in Israel have produced large numbers of highly qualified scientists, engineers, doctors and professors who strive to take a leading role for research within their fields. For this reason, its relatively small population has a remarkable number of Nobel Prize winners. All large cities – Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa und Beer Sheva – are home to renowned universities.
Israel has also made efforts to bring international technology firms to the country. These efforts have encouraged companies like IBM, Intel, Motorola and Philips to establish research and development centres in Israel. A fair few German companies have also set up operations. For example, Siemens and SAP have offices there. Deutsche Telekom has set up a satellite facility for its Hubraum in-house incubator. Israel’s exports to Germany consist mainly of chemical products, machinery, electrical goods, measurement and control technology and electronics.
Israel is a fusion of cultural elements from many areas of the world, particularly from Europe and the Middle East. Although small, the cities and regions have some stark differences. The Tel Aviv metropolitan area is the economic centre of Israel and also offers a huge range of cultural activities. Many young people are drawn to the city for its countless bars and clubs, museums and theatres, as well as its history and the lifestyle of a large coastal city. You can find anything here. Jerusalem is also home to businesses. However, the special character of this city has more to do with its long history and traditional religious influences of the three main monotheistic religions. Beer Sheva is a desert city built largely around its university campus. Many businesses and an important university are also located in Haifa. The people here are proud of the peaceful coexistence of Arabs and Jews.
The cost of living in Israel is relatively high and is similar to central Europe. The cost of living in Tel Aviv is comparable to Munich.
Further facts about Israel:
A work experience placement in Israel offers access to an international, globally-oriented and highly innovative economy. At the same time you can get to know a country with a very heterogeneous society that, despite a difficult political situation, has not lost its drive, optimism and lust for life. The high-tech sector is, of course, a primary option for work placements. However, there are opportunities in many other sectors such as bio-tech, ICT, medicine and medical technology. Since every business carries out a range of tasks in-house, such as marketing, business development, product design and HR, there is a huge range of options for students of all fields.
When searching for a placement, you must be aware that the concept of a “work experience placement” is not widely known in Israel, and open placements may not be advertised.
However, the business culture in Israel is open and flexible, so you will be able to find a placement if you take the initiative to approach companies operating in your field of interest and present yourself to them. A good starting point is to consider Israeli companies that are active in the German market, and vice-versa.
The recently established platform “New Kibbutz” is run by the General Consulate for the State of Israel in Munich and, with the help of the Foreign Chamber of Commerce in Tel Aviv, it arranges work placements for German students in Israeli companies.
Unfortunately there is currently no type of work permit available that allows for paid work placements. Entry into Israel for work placements is done using a simple tourist visa. Interns are therefore unable to receive financial compensation. Many firms, however, provide an allowance for lunch and travel costs. This and other support options can be discussed directly with the company – the open Israeli way of doing things is an advantage here too. You should point out any previous experience that you may have acquired through social engagement, for example.
The “New Kibbutz” programme offers various opportunities for partial support. The usual support options for international work placements from the DAAD and other institutions are also available.
To work in Israel you will need a good level of English. Most international companies in Israel, particularly in the high-tech sector, use English as their business language. Knowledge of Hebrew is a definite advantage, but not a necessity. You will need to put your skills into practice during the job interview via Skype. You can also provide evidence of your level of English in your application documents by taking a language proficiency test.
There are only a few things to bear in mind for your application documents. Generally, you should work to the US style of job application – Israel has close cultural and economic links with the USA. It is often the case that applications consist simply of a tabular CV and an informal letter in an email. It is not common to include a photograph, but it does not hurt to do so. Israelis are less impressed by properly formatted application documents and much more interested in determination, creativity and candidates who know exactly what they want.
For work placements you will generally be issued with a standard tourist visa. For voluntary work there is a special volunteering visa. A tourist visa is issued upon arrival at the airport and is valid for 3 months. If necessary this can be extended in Israel by the Ministry of the Interior. Detailed information about entry into Israel can be found on the website of the Embassy of the State of Israel, or you can enquire directly with the general consulate or embassy.