Lord Young, a former president of World ORT and cabinet minister under Margaret Thatcher, congratulated ORT Jump founder Julia Alberga at this week’s graduation ceremony for teenagers who are looking at post-school life with greater knowledge and confidence thanks to the time devoted to them by their mentors.
“I can’t think of a better programme in the school system that will introduce people to the world of work,” Lord Young said.
His view is shared by an increasing number of parents, teachers and students who are keen to exploit the opportunities which ORT Jump provides to give participants the experience and insights that can give them the edge in an increasingly competitive jobs market.
Since its founding four years ago, ORT Jump has grown from 20 students at two Jewish high schools in London to 130 students from four major Jewish schools in and around the capital – and it shows no sign of slowing.
“Next year we will welcome three more schools to the programme so we expect our numbers to grow dramatically,” said Ms Alberga. “We’ve also successfully piloted ORT Jump within a synagogue community and we hope to extend this trial to other synagogues in the coming year.”
Expectations of attracting 200 students to ORT Jump in the next academic year may be conservative if the comments of this year’s graduates are anything to go by.
“I really, really enjoyed it. It’s been the most amazing opportunity to see how a workplace actually runs. I got an in-depth knowledge of what a career in law really means,” said Rachaeli Rabinowitz, one of five students awarded prizes for the quality of the files which all participants must keep detailing what they have learned and supplemented with additional research on the career in question and their mentor’s own company.
Rachaeli’s experience of regular meetings with Howard Goulden, a partner at London-based top 100 law firm HowardKennedyFsi, culminating in work experience at the company has confirmed her aspirations to be a lawyer.
“I’ve no idea what I would have done without ORT Jump; I have no connections,” she said.
Fellow prize-winner Gabriella Kenton said she was now absolutely certain that her long-held desire to be an accountant was the right path thanks in large part to the inspirational example set by her mentor, Russell Nathan, who worked his way up to become a partner at HW Fisher & Company, on the UK’s top 25 chartered accountancy firms.
“Without ORT Jump I would have gone through school, got a bit of advice but not much. Now I know what I’m working towards. I’m going to have work experience at HW Fisher and Russell’s been very helpful, he’s been putting me in contact with a lot of people who have also offered me work experience.”
Aidan Biton was one of nine students who were mentored at Accenture, the global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company.
“I was blown away with both the company and its high-tech Innovation Centre,” Aidan said. “So much so that, when I first walked into the Accenture offices my aim was to study accountancy, but when I walked out of their offices my aim was to be accepted on the Accenture gap year programme and to work for them.”
Simon Bolsom, a manager at Accenture, oversees the company’s participation in ORT Jump and plans to be a mentor himself next year – “Everybody I speak to who’s done it says they found it very rewarding,” he said.
He said the programme was giving students a real, practical advantage in a fiercely competitive environment.
“Nowadays in business you need an edge, you need something different to stand out from the crowd and if you have an ‘in’ with a company or you have some work experience that will give you a big step up compared to a lot of other people,” he said.
For Dan Sherman, Advisor to the Minister of Trade and Economic Affairs at the Israeli Embassy in London, this was his first time as an ORT Jump mentor. He is attracted by the opportunity the programme gives him to ‘pay it forward’.
“There have been people along the way who have been mentors to me and have helped me and I feel very strongly that it’s about saying ‘I got help, now other people need help’. Mentoring is about giving someone who’s one step behind you the ability and the knowledge to ultimately go one step beyond you,” he said. “It was great fun and I’d be happy to do it again next year.”
His mentee, Noah Lachs, addressed the graduation ceremony at ORT House.
“The ORT Jump programme hasn’t only offered me an exclusive window into a particular sphere of work, it’s provided me with a clear picture of what lies beyond school and has given me the confidence to pursue my future in any professional area… I’m sure I speak for all the mentees when I say that I feel truly privileged to have been part of such a unique and special programme,” Noah said.