International postdocs typically come to Israel to work with a specific researcher or research group, not because they want to be at a particular academic institution. But once they arrive, the collaboration often proves so fruitful and the culture so welcoming and conducive to doing good science that they want to remain in the country.
Here’s a look at how you can launch a successful STEM career in Israeli academia.
ONE: Pair Up with a Pioneering Researcher
Israeli university faculty members are world leaders in a wide range of fields. As a postdoc, if you’re inspired by journal articles published by someone in your discipline or impressed when you hear them speak at a conference, approach them — (either online or in person) and ask about opportunities to collaborate. If you have a strong CV and show enthusiasm and ambition, they will likely want to work with you and find a way to make it happen.
TWO: Be Direct with Colleagues or Potential Colleagues
Israelis are direct — and in science that’s a good thing. You don’t need to be reverential. If you meet the leading expert in a field while walking down a corridor, you should introduce yourself and ask questions. Knock on someone’s door. If people are having a conversation and you want to get involved, jump in. Being proactive will teach you how to present yourself and help you navigate opportunities.
THREE: Embrace the Informal Professional Atmosphere
The barriers that may prevent organic, results-oriented partnerships from developing in other countries are much less prevalent in Israel. Once established, these relationships can help you secure a university position. You needn’t only respond to a call for applications when looking for a professorship in Israel. Send your CV to a department head at any time of the year, not just when there’s an open job. Faculty are looking for long-term collaborators. If you’re a good fit and the timing is right, your chances are strong.
FOUR: Embrace the Lab Experience
The lab experience at Israeli institutions is rooted in conducting good research. Universities here are flexible, fast-paced and very generously funded. Approaching science in a creative, open-minded way is the main priority. This environment will allow you to tackle the challenges that inspired you to become a scientist in the first place. And it will make you want to stay in Israel — an amazing place to be productive, especially when you are young.
FIVE: Enjoy Your Life Outside the Lab
Most international researchers find it easy to integrate into Israeli life because the level of English in the country’s scientific community (and in the country in general) is very high. Moreover, people are warm and welcoming. They ask a lot of questions, which helps to create a lively energy and pace. You might come to Israel for the research opportunities, but the lifestyle and hospitality will help make the country quickly feel like home.