Story by Mollie Binderman and Audrey Zeff

Now more than ever students need to be prepared for life after school. Internships can introduce you to new careers and make you more prepared for a job of your own.

That’s why it was so impactful hearing Lauren Berger discuss how to find internships and jobs as part of this year’s JumpSpark Strong Women Fellowship. The Fellowship is geared toward teens, many of whom are beginning or have begun the process of college applications, or even making the decision to head straight into the career field. Getting advice on internships and careers from Berger was extremely impactful, because we as young adults are starting to face the time for decision-making for our future. 

Lauren Berger started Internqueen website to help connect youth with internships.

JumpSpark’s Strong Women Fellowship is an educational and empowering program where Jewish teen girls talk about issues facing the world and learn to be leaders. We hear from inspiring people all the time. Last month, we got to hear from Berger, who has two websites, one targeted at adults to help them find jobs, and one focused on college and high school students like us. Her website, Internqueen helps us take the next steps in our career by finding internships according to our passions. 

According to Internqueen, Berger’s advice has reached the ears of 6 million people and helped shape their careers. She has also written books and been featured on many notable media outlets like Business InsiderForbesTeen VogueThe Today Show, and more. Lauren’s YouTube channel also has more than 2 million views.

Berger talked about a wide variety of career advice, including how useful it is for high schoolers to get internships. Internships allow job-like experiences and are great on college resumes, which is especially helpful as you’re thinking about college. During the meeting she discussed her own story with us and shared her mistakes and achievements. We all learned a lot about the dos and don’ts when applying and completing internships.

Here are a few of our key take-aways and lessons we learned.

“I learned that it is okay to relax and take a break once in a while.” – Emma

“The value of LinkedIn!” – Rebecca

“To keep up with connections because they may be helpful later!” – Katie

“Reach out to professional contacts at least 3 times a year!” – Audrey

“You should always stay in contact with people.” – Ella

“To always follow up with a thank you email and/or note.” – Mollie

“I really liked learning about how I can effectively prepare for the future!” – Eva

“Always stay in contact with people.” – Rachel

“It’s okay to fail.” – Ariel

Hearing from a speaker like Lauren is so impactful on teens like us as we are growing older and trying to figure out questions like what career we will want to have in 10 years.

Mollie Binderman, 16, is a sophomore at North Springs Charter High School in Sandy Springs, who enjoys hanging out with friends and cooking. Audrey Zeff, 15, is a sophomore at Grady High School who loves playing volleyball and hanging out with friends. They are both participants in the Strong Women Fellowship.

This article was originally published on VOX ATL. Read it here.

On a Wednesday morning in October, 13 boxes line a screen with joyful middle school students talking about how awesome it is to be Jewish. They feel bonded by a shared identity and are bringing the fun to their virtual meeting.

In this unprecedented moment, virtual Jewish engagement feels both necessary and challenging. People suffer from “Zoom fatigue,” too much screen time with work, school, and activities. The news cycle feels constantly deflating, especially with the neverending rise of COVID-19 cases with no end in sight. Building a strong Jewish identity may be the last thing on people’s minds.

Building Community

However, the newly created Renfroe Jewish Middle School Club proves the importance of building the Jewish community at this moment, even in a virtual setting. In late October, Renfroe Middle School hosted its first Jewish club meeting. Karen Callen, the parent champion of this club who got the club up and running, shares,

“It is very exciting to get a Jewish student club off the ground at Renfroe MS. We have an enthusiastic staff sponsor who is also a member of The Temple, and greatly appreciate the support of JumpSpark to help get us going. There are many unaffiliated Jewish families in Decatur, so it is awesome to have an inclusive space where the kids can come together and have fun Jewish experiences that are easily accessible through their school.”

In the first club meeting, we brought in Hannah Zale from In the City Camps to lead fun activities around creating a club logo and name for the club. Hannah’s humor and fun demeanor brought the club to life and got the students excited to talk about Jewish identity. The activities around creating a logo and name also gave the students ownership over the club to make it the space they wanted.

Hannah Zale, Assistant Director of In the City Camps

Oscar Marks, a student at Renfroe Middle School and member of the club, shares,

“The virtual meeting for The RMS Jewish Kids Club was fun and exciting, everyone was full of pride that they are Jewish, and the teachers were glad that we were at the meeting. We had fun activities that would help the club like, choosing the name of the club, choosing the logo, and choosing what the logo would stand for.”

Looking to the Future

With the first meeting being such a success, the club is poised for future growth. Karen Callen feels that,

“The kids fed off the infectious energy of the meeting leader, Hannah Zale, and are excited to have Hannah and other local Jewish educators continue to create fun Jewish programming for them in future meetings. We are confident that the new Renfroe club will continue to grow as more students hear about the club and want to connect with other Jewish kids at their school and in their community.”

While virtual Jewish engagement might feel nearly impossible at this moment, it is so essential to continue building our Jewish community. People need a space to connect over shared identity and have fun together at this challenging time. Oscar Marks shares that he “recommends the club to whomever or whoever wants to be around other Jewish kids.” The new Renfroe Middle School Jewish club proves the power and possibility of building a Jewish community in this time and how important it is we support each other through our most difficult moments.

Interested in bringing Jewish clubs to your middle school? Contact Annie Fortnow, JumpSpark Engagement Manager, at annie.fortnow@jumpsparkatl.org.

“We cannot discuss people’s lives today, and the role of Jewish education in those lives, without discussing mental health.

EJewish Philanthropy, September 2020

During two days in October, youth professionals from a variety of teen serving organizations had the opportunity to gather for Youth Mental Health First Aid training. We covered issues such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and eating disorders. We learned to help identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness. Small group discussions allowed us to role-pay possible conversations and reactions when faced with these signs. Twenty-seven professionals participated and received a certificate in Youth Mental Health training. 

This training was co-sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta Jewish Education Collaborative and JumpSpark Initiatives and facilitated by Jaime Stepansky and Rebecca Brown, both licensed social workers at Jewish Family & Career Services.

Participants had the following thoughts and reviews about the session:

My name is Michael Drucker and I am the Operations Director at Camp Barney Medintz.  I jumped at the opportunity to participate in the Youth Mental Health First Aid training program because I am around children and young adults a lot and thought that if I could learn some skills that could teach me how to approach, listen and support someone who was struggling with a mental health issue, I would simply be more helpful in my role.  As a parent, I thought I had naturally learned how to recognize when one of my children or their friends was struggling with something, but this program taught me so many things that I did not know.  One of the primary things that I learned is that children and young adults simply want and need an adult figure whom they can trust.  I have always tried to be someone who relates to children and young adults so that they feel comfortable when speaking with me, and I now recognize how important that really is.  Thank you to JumpSpark for sponsoring this program and giving me an opportunity to grow.

The Youth Mental Health First Aid course sponsored by JumpSpark brought together such a dedicated group of Jewish educators to learn more about mental health from licensed therapists and from each other. As the world continues to change, having access to extra support systems and discussing best practices (for in person interactions or zoom interactions!) is ever more important. The workshop helped me understand my role as a mental health first aider and made me more aware of the potential impact that I can have as an educator in the Atlanta Jewish community.

The Youth Mental Health First Aid training I received from JC&FS (through their partnership with JumpSpark) was truly a transformational experience. Jaime and Rebecca did a phenomenal job opening our minds to the kinds of mental health challenges that young people may have, and the best way that we can support them. After receiving this instruction, I feel so much more confident in my abilities.

As an educator and childcare provider, I was grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Youth Mental Health First Aid program. The (virtual) space was gender inclusive, as well as thoughtful in regards to how culture and environment affects how we administer mental health first aid. I deeply appreciated the small class size, open dialogue, and the emphasis on an individualized approach to each child. We were able to break down difficult scenarios compassionately and create care plans that felt realistic and attainable. I recommend this training whether you work directly with kids or not; the information is valuable and widely applicable.

Due to incredible interest, we have scheduled an additional training on Thursday, December 10th, 10am-3pm. If you would like to learn more and are interested in participating, you can register here.

Her Campus Media is an 100% woman-owned and -operated organization that provides the opportunity for college-age women to publish their voices, is the No. 1 media portfolio for college women, and works to serve and empower young women. The Founder, Stephanie Kaplan Lewis, recently spoke to JumpSpark’s Strong Women Fellowship, pointing out major lessons that she had learned from her experience starting a successful business. 

Lewis gave useful insights meant to guide any young woman who will one day start a business. Her tips include: follow your passions, build a killer team, pump out a business plan, put the pressure on, and spend hardly any money. 

After her initial presentation, Lewis paused for questions, which gave Fellows an opportunity to ask about her experience or ask for guidance about their own projects and aspirations. For instance, Ariella Ayenesazan, a 9th grader at Peachtree Ridge High School, is following her passion through her own mask business and asked intriguing questions on how to grow her business on different platforms like Lewis did.

Next, Lewis led the Fellows in an exercise where the group discussed Impostor Syndrome and finding one’s purpose through questions like “what drives you?” and fill-in-the-blanks like “Sometimes I worry that I’m not as ___ everyone thinks I am.” Lewis was vulnerable with the group by sharing times when she doubts herself and opened the floor to those who wanted to share their thoughts, reactions, and feelings. 

Lewis began her dream while in college, where she met her colleagues as Harvard undergrads while running a student publication for women on campus. The publication’s popularity resonated with college women across the country who began asking for advice on starting something similar at their schools. She has continued on with her passion to this day. 

Lewis spoke to us as a leader who represents female empowerment, inspiring future generations. The interactive event allowed us to ask questions and stay involved. She responded with impactful answers, allowing everyone to be vulnerable and share some stories of our own lives.

Finally, Fellows created a reflective word cloud that included our feelings and takeaways from the meeting, which included words like “driven,” “inspired,” “strong” and “empowered.”

Here are a few of our take-aways. 

“It was great to meet a successful woman who was willing to share her expertise with us, and she even said we could reach out to her after the meeting and participate in some of the high school Her Campus media programs. I appreciated how open Lewis was in sharing times she failed so we would not repeat the same mistakes. One thing that I will take away is that if someone has enough drive and ambition, they can do whatever they put their mind to, which I think is an important message for young women and teens to hear, because it motivates them to act on their dreams.” – Amelia Heller

“Her story inspires me to create my own path in life, like maybe create my own business one day. She pulled out all the stops to make her dreams come true, which I aspire to do one day as well. Stephanie is someone we can all look up to and learn from. With hard work, anything is possible.” – Kayla Jacobs

“I learned a lot about what it takes to start a company and the struggles faced when doing so. [Lewis’] presentation was engaging and informative, and I definitely took a lot away from it, especially when we went around and challenged our ‘Imposter Syndrome’ views of ourselves.” – Alexa Freedman

I learned how she started her company with very low expenses. I also really loved the activities we did, because it showed how it is okay to show your vulnerable side.” – Ariella Ayenesazan

“It was so interesting to hear her story about how she created her magazine company. It was so inspiring.” – Miriam Raggs

“I learned that it is possible to start a company without any money. I also learned that sacrifices are necessary to be successful.” – Maya Laufer


Amelia Heller, 15, is a sophomore at The Weber School in Atlanta. She loves musical theatre and hanging out with friends. Kayla Jacobs, 17, is a senior at Pope High School who loves to hang out with her friends, volunteer and shop online.

The Strong Women Fellowship aims to empower Jewish girls and young women through activities and speakers like Lewis who educate, energize, and empower the Fellows to be passionate and successful in their pursuits.

This article was originally published on VOX ATL. Read it here.

As we watch our country’s election unfold and see how close the results are, we can see a clear divide in what the people of the United States of America care about politically. No matter what side of the aisle one sits, one thing is clear at this moment: our country is starkly divided.

Annie Fortnow, JumpSpark Engagement Manager

Coming together around shared values in this time sometimes feels almost impossible — with nearly everyone holding differing viewpoints, it can sometimes be scary to bring up the topic of shared values. But if we want to create change in our country and live in a more compassionate society, we must do just that and strive for courageous conversations around our shared beliefs.

Moving from Conversation to Action

In late October, JumpSpark hosted a Community Conversation with Wayne Green, Executive Director of the Jewish Teen Funders Network. Community Conversations are monthly calls that bring together Jewish youth serving professionals in Atlanta for informal conversations with a thought leader in the field. The speakers and topics provide an exclusive deep dive for teen professionals and Jewish educators in Atlanta.

In a creative and interactive presentation, Wayne took our group of professionals through a journey of shared values exploration to decide where to allocate a pool of funding to. Wayne encouraged the participants to think critically about a wide variety of values and come to a consensus as a group about what values mattered to us. In doing this, Wayne modeled what a giving circle experience could look like for the teens we work with.

Wayne shares, “how we engage with teens to make changes in the world by giving is best when we as educators connect with the context and fundamental values of giving. Empathy and experience in why, where, and how we give is important to be able to effectively work with teens and share this experience. In doing so, our impact is greater for the giver and the receiver.”

As we went through the giving circle experience together, we began to understand the importance of bringing this experience to our teens. Lara Schewitz, Experiential Education Director at Creating Connected Communities, shares, “JumpSpark’s mini giving circle allowed me to connect with my peers in a fun and hands-on way! Wayne is an incredible educator and introduced me to new virtual resources that I plan on implementing.”

Aligning Values and Giving

Through our shared values exploration, our group of professionals landed on the values of human dignity and justice that we wanted to guide our giving together. Through these values, the group decided to donate our pool $240 to AgeWell Atlanta. Amy Glass, Director in Community Planning and Impact at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, shares, “we are so appreciative of the efforts of the Educator’s giving circle. The money they raised for AgeWell Atlanta will provide financial support for older adults who need help paying for assistive devices like hearing aids or glasses as well as home repair for things like grab bar installation. All are critical to enabling older adults to continue to age in place wherever they reside.”

Through defining our shared values as a group, Jewish youth professionals and educators in Atlanta were able to make a real difference in the lives of older adults in our community. Compassionate listening and consensus building helped us get there as a group.

This giving circle experience gives us hope for the future of our country. In a political moment where having conversations across difference can seem almost impossible, the Jewish Teen Funders Network has created a platform through which to have conversations where everyone might not agree and engage in crucial discussions around the values we hold and what we care about. Bringing these experiences to our youth will only help strengthen the compassion in our society now and in the future.

Want to learn more?

Interested in bringing teen giving circles to your community? Learn more at http://www.jtfn.org/

Want to attend future Community Conversations with JumpSpark? Check out our calendar for more information: https://jumpsparkatl.org/programs/professionals/