Judaism is a religion not a career…or so I thought.
Growing up in a family full of business minded people, being Jewish was my religion but I had never thought of it as anything more. In 2009 I was working for a company in Chicago and began networking in Kansas to potentially move there. I was put in touch with Jay Lewis, Executive Director of KU Hillel and was completely blown away by the Jewish life in Kansas – who knew there was such a strong Jewish population there? Not me, that’s for sure!
We talked about how I could use my background in marketing and event planning to do what I love professionally and mix in my passion for Jewish life, I was skeptical and felt uncertain as the right path to take. After meeting the KU Hillel staff, I took a leap of faith knowing, at the very least, I would have the right partners to work with. I didn’t know it at the time but it was a perfect fit.
In the 3.5 years I have been with KU Hillel I have woken up every morning excited to go to work. My colleagues make work fun and the relationships I have built with them and the students at KU Hillel are remarkable.
After working for 3 years as the full time Program Director and doing part-time development work, I began to look for my next career move. I loved being the Program Director but after staffing Birthright for three years, planning countless Shabbat dinners and working many nights and weekends, I was ready for a new challenge. Little did I know that advancement was right at my fingertips. This past summer I transitioned into the role of Director of Development at KU Hillel.
When I began as a Program Director I hated to ask people for money; it was the last thing I wanted to do. Because of the support from my colleagues and the amazing board of directors we have built, I jumped into the position eager to grow and learn, knowing I would have the support and tools to succeed.
When I look back over the past few years, it has become abundantly clear that there are certain reasons that I am so happy in my career. I feel truly lucky to work with colleagues, who have become phenomenal mentors, both professionally and personally, and who, at the end of the day, are my close friends. I look forward to the countless opportunities to grow and I feel thankful to work for an organization that is willing to grow with me and never be satisfied with the status quo.
If you had asked me when I took the job if I would have stayed with Hillel for more than a year or two I would have laughed. Now, I’m excited to see what lies ahead for me in the Hillel and Jewish world and feel truly fortunate to have found a place where I can learn, grow, and feel like I am making a difference in the world.
Carly Stein is the Director of Development at KU Hillel. She began her Hillel career as a Program Director in June of 2010 and was promoted to her current position in July 2013. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and originally from the suburbs of Chicago, Carly is constantly amazed by how strong Jewish life is in Kansas and proud to be a part of it.