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Monday, May 20, 2019

(Courtesy of WayFind Careers) Like many young people, Elisheva (not her real name) returned home from seminary undecided about her next step. She was nervous about making a decision that could impact the rest of her life.

Devorah started college with the idea that she would become a school psychologist or social worker. There was only one problem: Devorah knew very little about what was involved with each profession—the demand, associated salaries or the years of education she faced.

Devorah, Elisheva and the hundreds of women and men who are finishing high school, college or full-time learning every year face the same quandary. The economics of the Jewish community demand that they choose financially stable, growing careers, but the values and lifestyle of the frum world often constrict their choices.

Natasha Srulowitz, a graduate of Columbia Business School who has worked in both the finance and tech industries for more than 20 years, wasn’t surprised by either girl’s story. “For a long time, there’s been this idea that there are four appropriate paths for frum Jews: lawyer, doctor, therapist, accountant. But there are hundreds of other options that people haven’t pursued because they don’t know anyone who is doing it. There is so much more out there, especially in technology.”

Adele Dubin, a contemporary of Natasha’s, was a director at American Express and worked in venture capital and consulting. When her daughter went to seminary, she came to a similar conclusion. “My daughter and her peers put so much more effort into decisions surrounding seminary and shidduchim than they did into what they were going to do with their working lives. Their main consideration was how to finish school as quickly as possible, not whether their choice of career suited their interests and needs.”

Adele and Natasha agreed a better system was needed, one that drew upon traditional career counseling but incorporated the primacy of living and working within a frum lifestyle.

Together, they founded WayFind, which offers education and career support geared toward the Orthodox Jewish community.

Resources, Education, Support and Professionalism

“Our mission is to help members of our community choose career paths that best suit their interests, skills, strengths and values,” said Adele.

Natasha and Adele whittled down the U.S. government’s listing of more than 2,000 choices to 400 that are appropriate and accepted in the community, then researched them extensively.

“We’re not interested in putting people into jobs. We want them to feel comfortable and satisfied with their choices. That means they need to know their options and choose wisely.”

WayFind offers a three-session package that is self exploratory and informative. It includes a variety of assessments, a customized profile and a career framework that visually examines the relationship between careers and values.

Clients receive information on their choices, but they are also required to conduct guided research. WayFind often schedules calls with professionals to further educate their clients. By the end, the client has been empowered to make a decision and WayFind provides a roadmap to get there.

WayFind helped Devorah explore her true interests while also meeting her life goals. She chose to apply her interest in psychology in a technology career. After finishing college with a degree in psychology, Devorah attended a 12-week UX Design technology boot camp at General Assembly (https://generalassemb.ly/design). 

“It was a great idea for me. It was short, and I got a lot of experience during the boot camp. I started a job a month ago, and I feel that I was really prepared.”

Elisheva is also preparing for a high-tech career. She is currently studying computer science at Touro College. She intends to focus on data science, which uses information to make predictions or to create artificial intelligence programs. According to Mordy Golding, director of content at LinkedIn, entry-level salaries in data science begin at $93,000.

Open House on October 29 Addresses High-Tech Possibilities

Golding, whose career includes stints at Adobe and Lynda and now LinkedIn, is adamant that high-tech careers offer exceptional opportunities for Orthodox Jews.

“The future of the work force is going to involve programming. It’s a skill that can be used across any industry. Every company today needs tech development.”

To help the Orthodox community get the skills they need for well-paying jobs with growth potential, WayFind has partnered with General Assembly, an industry leader in preparing people for technology careers, to create gender-separate boot camps. Men’s and women’s classes in New York City will focus on full stack web development (creating both the front and back ends of technology products), UX Design and data science. They are launching in January with a full stack web development boot camp.

General Assembly’s 12-week boot camps teach people what they need to find a job. They have an excellent track record. We are bringing our career coaching into the partnership to give our clients options for working in the outside world,” Adele explained.

On October 29, WayFind will be hosting an open house on future tech jobs for the frum community at the Young Israel of Lawrence Cedarhurst. Golding and Avi Singer, CEO of showd.me, will be leading a panel discussion on opportunities for careers in this growing area.

Mordy Golding’s 30-second elevator talk affirmed the many benefits. “Of the top 25 skills required for any job today, 10 did not exist 10 years ago. They are all tech skills, and people who have them can go anywhere. There’s such demand in these areas that people can work part-time or work from home. It’s extremely flexible.”

The open house begins at 8 p.m. and is open to men and women, parents and students. There is no charge. For more information and to RSVP, call WayFind at (516) 253 1147 or visit www.wayfindcareers.com.

(Elisheva is a pseudonym. Some identifying details have been changed as well.)