A resident of Oak Park and a graduate of the Frankel Academy in West Bloomfield, Jessica is a sophomore at Michigan State University

Jessica Grossman, JOIN Intern
Jessica Grossman, JOIN Intern

Imagine that you are given the opportunity to work in the field you love, gain a wide variety of professional skills, create lifelong friendships and give back to the community, all at the same time. Oh, and don’t forget to visualize a reasonable salary.

 It’s not a fantasy. It’s real-life work.

Thanks to the Jeanette and Oscar Cook Jewish Occupational Internship Program (JOIN), under the aegis of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit  its partner agencies and others, this summer 16 students received placements in Jewish non-profit social service agencies in the Detroit area.



The purpose is to “try out” possible careers.

Imagine. Working in the community, for the greater good of the community.  Meeting people of all ages and stages of life. Connecting the dots from the academic world to the real-life workplace.

For eight weeks, Jewish college and graduate school students have the opportunity not only to gain the practical experience needed to become fully-functioning assets to an organization, but also to participate in weekly group seminars to learn about Jewish Detroit, its various agencies, services and programs, as well as its many resources and needs.

Like the students who came before me, I was excited and nervous to learn that I was to become a JOIN intern. I anticipated that I would gain valuable work experience, but was surprised to find that the challenges and opportunities would change me as an individual.

As the JOIN Marketing Intern at JVS, I learned to hone my writing skills, working on press releases and articles, and creating promotional videos. Every day, I was so immersed in my work that I never noticed the clock.  The days flew by.  Working hard, I was actually having fun. I loved that I was given important, creative projects that I could plan independently. While I worked to complete my projects, my agency’s mission grew close to my heart. I gained a unique understanding and deeper perspective of JVS through hands-on experience and challenging assignments. I learned what makes work so rewarding.

Looking back, I can see how much I’ve changed. I’ve learned how to conduct interviews for videos and articles, how to plan events and solicit donations, and how to reach multiple audiences with one message. Now, I’m comfortable tackling assignments head on, conducting myself in a professional setting, and acknowledging my own strengths and weaknesses. I am more mature and confident than I was just two months ago.

The one reward I always will carry forward

Like many of my classmates, I went off to college lacking an emotional connection to Detroit, planning to migrate to where economy, opportunity and weather seem more inviting. However, those seminar days each week and the daily experiences of the JOIN program gave me, along with all of the interns, the privilege and opportunity to see that our community has more to offer than we ever imagined. As the JOIN group ventured out into the community, we created personal bonds with one another and with each of the agencies. These connections allowed us to discover an intricate network of kindness, compassion, and charity of a community like no other. I never thought that an eight-week internship program would help me discover my place in the thriving, generous, and inviting Detroit Jewish Community. But here I am. In a place I want to be.

The JOIN program is not just an internship program; it is a journey into the Jewish community that changes the lives of its participants. Discovering what makes JOIN different is easy: It’s growth. It’s inspiration. It’s community.


About JOIN

JOIN is a summer internship program, designed for Jewish full-time undergraduate and graduate college students from metropolitan Detroit. Its purpose is to immerse students in a professional work setting in which to explore careers, develop skills and to step into to leadership roles within the community. Students are paid a stipend for eight weeks. Agencies that may have student interns include: JARC, Jewish Community Center, Jewish Family Service, JVS, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, Kadima, Federation’s Alliance for Jewish Education, Jewish Senior Life, Shalom Street, Holocaust Memorial Center, Temple Israel, Jewish Community Relations Council and Yad Ezra.

Initial funding came from the Max Fisher Foundation of United Jewish Charities. In 1992, the Ben N. Teitel Charitable Trust pledged $250,000 to JVS for the JOIN program in honor of Jeanette and Oscar Cook. Combining this gift with the generous support from Board members and the community, JVS established an endowment fund.

The Jeanette and Oscar Cook JOIN program is now funded partially by the interest from the JVS Endowment Fund, and a portion of JVS’ allocation from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit’s Annual Campaign. Funding for the JARC and the Kadima positions is from the Tony Richman Internship Scholarship Fund. Yad Ezra, Temple Israel and the Holocaust Memorial Center independently fund their internships. The Jewish Women’s Foundation recently provided a grant for an additional intern for the 2013 summer.

Editor’s note: To apply or learn more about The Jeanette and Oscar Cook Jewish Occupational Internship Program (JOIN), please contact Debra Silver at (248)-233-4233 or at dsilver@jvsdet.org.

By Jessica Grossman, JVS JOIN Intern