TAMID offers students hands-on business experience

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Lehigh’s chapter of TAMID, a national investing and consulting organization that gives students the opportunity to gain hands-on business experience by working with startup companies in Israel, held its end-of-semester gala in the UC Wednesday evening.

The group is student-run and is advised by Frank Gunther, a professor in the department of economics.

“Israeli companies in general are really looking to succeed in America,” said Adam Seltzer, ’15, president of Lehigh’s TAMID chapter. “We’re kind of helping get the word out, whether it’s spreading the word on Lehigh’s campus or through our national organization.”

He says it’s about helping companies see the broader sense of business through Americans’ eyes. “Most of the companies we work with are brand-new, so the organization helps them reach customers.”

While TAMID works entirely with companies based in Israel, the organization is apolitical and secular.

“We don’t want people to think we’re another Jewish organization, because that’s not what we are – we’re a business organization. That said, we do have a lot of support from other Jewish organizations,” Seltzer said.

Among the companies the group is works with is Wibki, a website geared toward education that allows users to save links as bookmarks. The site aims to help teachers build class pages where they can bookmark useful websites for their students.

TAMID has grown considerably since it was first approved as a club in 2013. Thirty new members were accepted in September, bringing the group to a total of about 50 members. Nationally, TAMID continues to expand, as well. This year alone, the organization added nine new chapters to its existing 15, bringing its total to 24 chapters nationwide. Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, for instance, are home to two other chapters of TAMID.

To join Lehigh’s chapter of TAMID, new members must first go through an application process that Jennifer Barry, TAMID’s executive coordinator, calls rigorous. The organization accepts about 50 percent of people who apply. When accepting students, Barry says they try to gage students’ interest in Israel and not their interest in business.

“We can teach them all the basics they need to know,” Barry said. “They have to be passionate about it, though. It is a time commitment, and many people don’t realize that.”

Once accepted, new members have an educational semester where they learn about consulting and investing and are given an introduction to the Israeli economy. They practice case studies, hold seminars and host speakers, as well.

Lectures for new members are Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Outside of these lectures, members split into teams that meet once a week for their consulting projects. They video chat via Skype with their companies’ CEOs because the businesses are located in Israel.

Wednesday’s gala was the culminating presentation of the work TAMID has done this semester. With about 50 people in attendance Wednesday evening, each consulting and investment team presented its progress with their respective companies.

Additionally, presentations were given by the president and the director of education on this semester’s new member curriculum, as well as by the fellowship panel on opportunities to send students to Israel to work for these companies. The fellowship panel tries to raise money paired with money from the national organization to make these trips possible.

Barry said such opportunities are the culmination of the TAMID experience. Unfortunately, however, the fellowships are extremely selective. Only 45 people nationwide can go – including only three from Lehigh last year.

Next semester, TAMID looks forward to hosting another gala. Seltzer and Barry spoke about potentially including some fundraising in next semester’s event. This would help cover additional fellowship spots or even help fund meetings with other universities’ chapters.

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