Northeastern alumnus Ross Parker, SSH’13, and his friends jokingly agree: if Birthright Israel develops a major advertising campaign, then he would make for the quintessential spokesperson.
Birthright is a 10-day educational trip to Israel aimed at strengthening young Jewish people’s interest in the country’s culture. After going on Birthright two years ago through Northeastern, Parker is now working for the Israeli government as the director of press and political affairs at the Consulate General of Israel to New England.
“I’m kind of the poster child for Birthright,” Parker said with a laugh.
When he came to Northeastern, Parker intended to work in criminal justice after graduation. But it was a co-op at the Massachusetts Statehouse, where he interned for a state senator, that inspired him to pursue a career in politics rather than law. Parker said it was interesting to see constituent issues transform into legislative action.
In his final semester this spring, he interned with the Israeli consulate, an experience that later turned into a full-time position.
“I was kind of all in at that point after I worked in politics for the first time,” Parker said.
At the consulate, his responsibilities range from maintaining relationships between his office and politicians throughout New England to monitoring local media coverage about Israel and the Middle East. He even returned to campus last month to attend an event marking the publication of Prof. Bill Miles’ newest book, Afro-Jewish Encounters: From Timbuktu to the Indian Ocean and Beyond.
“There are definitely a varying degree of views [among the Jewish-American community],” said Parker, a former member of Huskies for Israel, Northeastern’s pro-Israel student organization. “You have to appreciate everyone’s opinion for what it is. That just comes with job of working for an Israeli government office.”
Parker noted that his co-op experiences have prepared him for his role at the consulate. “It was a seamless transition between school and work,” he explained. “Getting that experience doing internships or co-ops equipped me with the skills to take on this kind of responsibility a month after graduating.”
In the future, he hopes to return to Israel in a professional capacity, but he could not be happier in his current role. “As a first job out of college,” he said, “I couldn’t really have asked for more than this.”
– By Joe O’Connell