While COVID-19 has limited travel, a few determined students have found ways to land global experiences. Adam Lamb is one of those students.
A Finance and Certificate in International Studies (CISB) student at the Foster School of Business, Adam completed a summer internship in Tel Aviv working at BDO’s Corporate Finance Valuations and Consulting Department. He is also the Global Business Center’s Critical Language Fellow for using Hebrew during his experience abroad. We caught up with him to hear more.
Hi Adam! Tell us a little about yourself, where did you grow up?
I was born in Westport, Connecticut but lived almost my entire life in Kirkland, WA.
How has participating in CISB enhanced your college experience?
CISB is providing me a group of likeminded undergraduates interested in international business. Additionally, CISB has given me opportunities to participate in international related case competitions, networking events, and many more, ultimately contributing to a deeper knowledge and understanding of global complexities.
How did you decide on Israel as the place you wanted to study?
After traveling on Birthright during the summer of 2019, which also happened to be my first time outside of North America, I fell in love with this country’s unique culture, and I wanted to find a way back. During this trip, I discovered that Tel Aviv is #1 in the world for the most startups per capita and I saw this as an amazing opportunity to integrate my interests of international business and consulting.
Why did you want to participate in an international internship as part of your college experience?
There are two main reasons. First, it gives me a unique experience abroad that not many around the world have the opportunity to take advantage of. Second, due to Covid-19 and study abroad cancellations, interning abroad was the only opportunity I could take to get an experience like studying abroad in my undergraduate career.
Can you walk us through an average day in your internship?
I usually arrive around 9. For the first 30 minutes to an hour, I respond to emails that we received over night due to the time difference as well as building a plan for the day with my boss. I usually have three to five projects at a time, so a scheduled-out day is extremely important due to strict deadlines. From 10am-1pm I usually begin working on a project whether it is a financial model, business plan, market research, M&A, or due diligence. Sometimes during this time, I have a scheduled call with a client. From 1pm-2pm I have lunch typically from a falafel or shawarma stand. Between 3pm-5pm it is usually a continuation of my work and at the end of my workday I will update our progress report to plan for the next day. My day usually ends at 5pm.
Any success stories from your internship or projects you’re particularly proud of?
While I can’t disclose any of the companies I worked with, I was given the opportunity to head a project with a real estate firm. This firm has many portfolios of investment properties and tasked me with conducting a financial valuation for three of their US portfolios. I communicated with the client, made my own financial models, and presented it to the client all by myself. If I ever needed support, I was able to ask my boss and other team members, but this project was almost completely solo. This was an amazing opportunity to see what working in consulting as a professional is really like and I am very proud of the work I completed.
How did COVID impact your work and life in Israel?
During the first month and a half, Covid cases were extremely low. The country was very open and had a strong sense of normalcy. All my work was in person, but meetings with clients were primarily on Zoom due to safety or they operated in a different country. However, later in my internship, Covid cases rose due to the Delta variant and caused many employees to work in a hybrid format. While I continued to work in person, I wore masks in the office and maintained a safe distance. Other than that, many of the business operations stayed the same.
What’s your favorite place in Tel Aviv?
My favorite place in Tel Aviv was easily the beaches. While there are tons of beaches along the Mediterranean, I mainly went to Trumpeldor Beach which was a two-minute walk from my residence. This is a very local beach (not many tourists) and had a young and active crowd. I went here almost every day after work where I would meet up with friends, swim, relax, and play foot-volley (which is basically volleyball, but you can only use your head, shoulders, chest, knees, and feet).
Is there anything you did to immerse yourself in Israeli culture?
I just tried to live like a local; living in an apartment for long term, taking public transit, cooking your own meals, going to the beach, and running along the boardwalk are all things locals in Tel Aviv do daily which helped me feel like I was a local. Additionally, speaking Hebrew with the locals made me feel I was navigating through their way of life which was very rewarding.
What might you miss about life abroad?
When I was abroad, the constant feeling of experiencing something new was exciting and rewarding. I will miss that when I return to a place like Seattle where I know my surroundings very well. However, this will just be encouragement to travel more in the future.
Is there anything you’ve learned about yourself?
I’m sure once I am settled back in the states, I can spend more time to reflect. However, one thing I did notice about myself is that taking risks and pushing myself out of my comfort zone is a perfect way for me to grow, and I believe it is needed in my life to truly understand how I want to live my life. Living in Israel for the summer was stressful and hard at points due to the long duration away from home but also because I didn’t know many people. Forcing myself to make friends, explore all regions of the country, and take risks proved to me that pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is necessary to grow.
How might this experience impact your future?
On a professional sense, I realized that I love consulting but also international business and involving this in my career is a must. Whether that means traveling for work or being based in new countries, I think these are two paths I want to explore. On a personal note, I think travel will become a regular occurrence in my life but rather than just one to two weeks traveling per year, I want to find ways to travel for at least three months to really see and understand a country
Anything else I missed that you’d want to share?
My time in Tel Aviv has easily been the best summer of my life and I will cherish it for the rest of my life. I recommend people to not only travel to Tel Aviv but also to just intern abroad as it is an experience like no other.