Danielle V. Minson — Raising the Bar
Cincinnati 2020 in 2016: Ethan Litvin
Each installment in this series features a different perspective on Cincinnati 2020, the Jewish community’s visionary plan for building an exceptional future.
This week, the Director of Community Building at the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, Barbara Miller, and the chair of Cincinnati 2020, Tedd Friedman, talk with Ethan Litvin, Director of Careers Cincinnati, a joint internship initiative of Cincinnati Hillel and Hillel at Miami University funded by The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati.
How did you first get involved in Cincinnati 2020?
I learned of Cincinnati 2020 when I relocated to Cincinnati and began my new role as the Director of Careers Cincinnati, which connects Jewish college students to internship and job opportunities in the greater Cincinnati for-profit and nonprofit sectors. I had the privilege of attending the Cincinnati 2020 Leadership Summit in the fall, where I connected with fellow Jewish communal professionals and shared ideas on initiatives that we must take in order for Cincinnati 2020 to be successful. I also learned at that forum that helping young people find jobs and internship opportunities is a top priority across our community.
What does Cincinnati 2020 mean to you?
The Jewish community of Cincinnati has developed an ambitious and visionary plan to become a model Jewish community and a destination by the year 2020. A critical element of assuring this model Jewish community of tomorrow is creating a strong, connected, and growing young adult cohort today.
This cohort of engaged young adults will be the ones who will use the community’s services, attend the programs, lead the agencies and congregations, and support the dynamic community that Jewish Cincinnati is working so hard to build. Cincinnati Hillel and Hillel at Miami are in unique positions to play a key role in connecting students who are already in the Cincinnati area to the local Jewish community.
We can do this in a way that makes Jewish community involvement a part of their lives, and that provides a powerful incentive for staying in Cincinnati after graduation. That is the long-term objective of Careers Cincinnati.
Why should Cincinnati 2020 be important to college students?
College students and recent college graduates want to feel a sense of belonging to a community after graduating from college. Organizations like Hillel have been successful in creating an inclusive Jewish community on campus where students are able to become involved in Jewish life in a variety of ways. Cincinnati 2020 should look at the Hillel model as a way to engage the post-college young adult community in providing them with opportunities that will enable them to take leadership roles, and also empower them to create a Jewish community of their own that is appealing to each individual’s interest.
Did anything about Cincinnati 2020 or the collaboration itself surprise you?
The level of collaboration and commitment of so many different entities was inspiring.
Careers Cincinnati is in its second year this year. Has it been successful?
Before we launched Careers Cincinnati, Jewish students had the opportunity to intern in the Jewish communal world (through Workum internships) and in Israel (through the Onward Israel internship program). Careers Cincinnati has added a third level to that ladder of internship opportunity for Jewish young adults in our community by providing them with professional experience in greater Cincinnati’s nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Last year, we placed 12 interns at companies ranging from Standard Textile to Macy’s. We’re hoping for an even larger intern cohort this year.
Has Cincinnati 2020 been successful?
Our community is already benefitting from the collaboration that Cincinnati 2020 has inspired! To cite one success story, our Jewish community has gained a new young professional, thanks to the collaboration of Careers Cincinnati and JVS Career Services.
Alex Ryb, a Cleveland native who recently graduated from the University of Cincinnati, is now a proud, full-time Cincinnatian thanks to the efforts of Careers Cincinnati and JVS Career Services in helping him land a full-time job in our city.
“Careers Cincinnati working in conjunction with JVS Career Services has had an incredible impact on me,” Ryb said. “Through the assistance of Ethan Litvin from Careers Cincinnati and Kim Slaton of JVS, I enhanced everything from my image to my interview skills as I pursued a career after graduating from the University of Cincinnati in December, 2015. Ethan and Kim tailored my aspirations into what is now my full-time job as Transaction Coordinator at the Affordable Housing Group of Sperry Van Ness | Levental Realty in Cincinnati. Without these two programs and these two people, I don’t know if I would be where I am today. I cannot thank them enough for all of their help and guidance along the way.”
What does the future of Careers Cincinnati look like through the lens of Cincinnati 2020?
Cincinnati 2020 creates a sense of shared commitment and responsibility to our community. We hope that it will lead to the desire of community members to become more invested in the Careers Cincinnati program by hiring our students and serving as mentors to our students. By doing so, we will be able to strengthen the connection of our students to the Jewish community and also to professional opportunities in Cincinnati.
What do you hope the community accomplishes through Cincinnati 2020 in the next five years?
I hope that our community continues to provide extraordinary opportunities for our millennials that will enable them to serve as leaders within our community. I also hope that our agencies and congregations as a whole will become more collaborative and more welcoming to new residents of Cincinnati.