• Estelle and Johan, participants at Israel Tech Challenge.

    Nir Kafri, The Jewish Agency for Israel ©

Falling in Love with Israel, Technology, and Each Other

Johan and Estelle Goaz have a quintessential “start-up nation” love story.

They fell in love with high-tech around the same time they fell in love with each other. They both grew up in France, but it was Israel—and The Jewish Agency—that brought them together.

Estelle and Johan are participants in Israel Tech Challenge, an expert-driven Israel experience program connecting Jewish students and young professionals with tools and networks meant to enrich or launch their careers in the computer science industry. Founded by The Jewish Agency in partnership with the National Cyber Bureau of Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office, the project gives students the ability to learn from leading Israeli industry players and academics, combining inspiration and networking with actual hands-on cooperation on R&D projects.

By immersing these highly talented students in the cutting-edge of the Israeli internet economy, Israel Tech Challenge not only helps them grow as professionals, but also fosters a link between their future and the future of Israeli high-tech, increasing the chances of their involvement in future innovation of the highest standard.

Participants at Israel Tech Challenge. Photo: Nir Kafri for The Jewish Agency for Israel

Johan studied engineering at Telecom SudParis, and gained expertise on technological models that are used for stock exchanges around the world. Upon graduating, he worked in Hong Kong for about a year. Estelle specialized in industrial engineering while studying at École des Ponts ParisTech. One month into Israel Tech Challenge, they got married.

“What changed in my life after I joined this program of The Jewish Agency? When I came to Israel, I was in a state of ignorance, and nobody knew me or the engineering school I attended,” says Johan. “Israel Tech Challenge was a great bridge between my school in France and the internet industry here in Israel. The program is in contact with high-tech companies in Israel, like Intel and PayPal.”

Johan explains that Israel Tech Challenge got him up to speed on the differences between the Israeli and French employment markets, preparing him for job interviews and providing him with big-picture perspective on the landscape of Israeli industry. The program itself is “very intensive,” he says, with work spanning from 9:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. five days a week.

“There are all kinds of computer professionals in the same class in Israel Tech Challenge, and it’s very interesting,” says Estelle. “We get the chance to meet new people.”

“The work is very hard,” she says. “We both learn about trends in scientific data, and there are many courses. You learn in class, check out real cases in the field, and practice. And if you are not an Israeli, but a new immigrant like us, the program is affordable because you get a scholarship through The Jewish Agency’s Masa Israel Journey.”

Full of optimism, Estelle reflects that “we live in a world of opportunities,” specifically citing the internship component of Israel Tech Challenge.

“We now know a lot of people in the area with backgrounds in high-tech industries, and it’s good to know people in Israel because it builds relationships for us,” she says. “We can make connections and build friendships.”

Johan praises the “lovely staff” of Israel Tech Challenge as a particularly valuable aspect of the experience, personally and professionally.

“When you are a newcomer to Israel and do not understand anything, they help you,” he says. “They are very close to us.”

“They really want to help us work in the high-tech field,” echoes Estelle.

Israel Tech Challenge offers three tracks of varying lengths. Applicants must be between ages 18-30 and have finished high school by the time their participation begins.

Learn more about Israel Tech Challenge >

Nathan Roi for The Jewish Agency for Israel contributed to this article.


07 May 2018 / 22 Iyar 5778 0
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