In Response to “Investing in the Intrapreneur”

by Margalit C. Rosenthal

While Adam Simon’s blog post contained a variety of smart ideas and interesting perspectives, what stood out to me was how similar his piece sounded to my admissions essays and fellowship applications for graduate school.

As a first year in the NYU Wagner/Skirball dual degree program, my peers and I spend a significant amount of time discussing innovation, start-ups, entrepreneurship, and why we have to go to such great lengths to be heard when there are hundreds of Jewish organizations in existence that could help bring our ideas to fruition. Of course starting an organization from scratch is a far greater task financially than working within the establishment, but the idea of intra-preneurship – and the value of intra-preneurship – has not yet been visibly embraced by the sector my peers and I choose to work in.

It seems that the issue Simon is describing is two-fold: allowing for change from within and creating an attractive sector for young professionals. In order to attract the best and the brightest, organizations first must prove that they are willing to change and willing to implement creative approaches to their business. Before you go ahead attracting a fresh new crop of bright-eyed college graduates, perhaps first look at the bleary-eyed 23-30 year olds that are hanging on to Jewish communal life by their fingernails. Those individuals who just a few short years ago were eager and willing but have since been weighed down by the bureaucracy of Establishment. First invest in our intra-preneurial abilities; bring us to the table to discuss creating new policies, compensation plans, recruitment and retention strategies, and professional development ideas. While it would be an inaccurate statement to claim that all young professionals are creative and innovative, it is fair to assume that all agencies need a fresh voice at the table, just as a writer needs a new pair of eyes for a final edit.

If an organization’s young (as well as their more seasoned) professionals are content, satisfied, and challenged in their work, then the sector will naturally appear more attractive through word of mouth. After all, individuals who love their jobs tend to want to talk about it. A school, program, or organization’s best marketers are its alumni and supporters; No professionally-executed, super hip outreach scheme will entice young people to the field if the existing professionals are not satisfied.

So how will organizations go about creating this new “landscape” that Simon refers to? What are the first steps of this grand plan? My cohort of bright, creative, hard-working Jewish professionals will graduate in another year and a half and come knocking on your door with ideas for change. Will you open the door and invite us in?

Margalit C. Rosenthal is a student in the NYU Wagner/Skirball dual degree program.