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Jewish@edu – Win-Win

TAMID brings students and Israeli companies together.

College students looking to join student organizations can get involved with any number of groups. Clubs exist for every interest imaginable — from the mundane to the esoteric. The experiences student organizations offer can form lasting relationships and lines on resumes that may catch the eye of potential employers.

Few campus organizations engage students the way TAMID Group does. TAMID was formed a decade ago at the University of Michigan and gives members the chance to work directly with Israeli startup companies as consultants. Members conduct market research and analyses to help grow these startups. Students can also manage portfolios through TAMID’s investment fund program.

Rowan DaikselNewsroom

Rowan Daiksel

“The combination of those two forces really exposes our students to a wide variety of different types of businesses,” says Rowan Daiksel, president of TAMID at U-M. “You have the investment side and the strategic consulting side.”

TAMID also offers a summer fellowship program that sends students to Israel for eight weeks to work with companies in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

“You get to go to one of these incredible Israeli cities, see their history, their culture, the startups that exist there,” says Saul Feit, former TAMID chair of the council of presidents. “I think that’s a very different way to experience Israel than most people normally do.”

That Israelis have a penchant for startup companies is well known. Both Feit and Daiksel point to Dan Senor and Saul Singer’s 2009 book Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle as evidence of the Israeli drive for innovation. The authors argue that a nation populated by immigrants in combination with mandatory military service makes Israel a hotbed for experimentation and technological advances.

“The Israeli tenacity and technologies that come out of that country and the way they think through problems and their persistence is something that everyone should be exposed to,” says Daiksel, who was born in Israel.

Spreading TAMID

The student organization has seen widespread growth since its genesis on Michigan’s campus. TAMID began adding chapters in 2011 on the campuses of Harvard, University of California, Berkeley and Penn State. More campuses joined as the years ticked by. The group now boasts 53 chapters with more than 2,200 active members. The spike in interest among students has resulted in TAMID becoming a very selective group, with an acceptance rate of less than 15 percent at U-M last year.

The expansion can be credited to several factors.

“I think there’s a lot of demand for more organizations that give you community — community that doesn’t just last in college but lasts beyond and creates opportunities for you,” Feit says. “And, of course, I think it comes down to it’s business in Israel, and whether you have strong personal beliefs that connect to Israel or if you’re a strongly business-minded person, then Israel becomes a great place to get involved.”

While TAMID works primarily with Israeli companies, the organization does not espouse any political or religious viewpoint. TAMID accepts students from every background and point of view, and both Feit and Daiksel stress that it is an apolitical, non-religious group.

Students with TAMID are given real responsibility that potentially can impact the bottom line of these companies. But Feit says the startups have much to gain and little to lose.

Saul FeitNewsroom

Saul Feit

“There’s a lot of value added. These aren’t just any college students — these are passionate, strong, driven college students. This is a select group. These are students who are vetted by the process to get into TAMID,” Feit says.

This summer, U-M student Jacob Offir worked with Nielson Innovate, a startup incubator/VC, in Israel.

“One week into my internship, I already felt like I was making an impact, both for the company as well as for my own professional development,” he says. “Interning in Israel is a completely different and refreshing experience than interning back in the U.S. Immediately, I was treated as an equal in the office and given more responsibility than I could have imagined. Working with Israeli startups firsthand has been an amazing experience.”

Daiksel says, “We’re pro bono. I think everybody will tell you we’ve done really remarkable work and they’re using work we have done. A lot of these companies are trying to expand into the United States. Having American students from elite American universities who are thinkers and see problems and solutions in a different way is incredibly valuable.”

Daiksel and Feit say the experience TAMID provides students goes beyond the opportunity to have forays into the business world.

“The community I’ve been able to build, the people I’ve gotten to work with and gotten to know essentially as coworkers — that’s been the main part of my experience,” Feit says.

“I think we’re unique. It’s kind of an all-encompassing organization. There are some clubs that just do investment, some clubs that just do consulting, but we kind of combine those two. I can’t imagine my college experience without TAMID,” Daiksel says. @

Rob Streit

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