When Raphael Gal was selected for an internship this summer at Israeli software development company Tobeweb (which builds websites, mobile apps, and databases for other companies), he was assigned to the three-person Android team. His main task? Creating an Android app for one of their clients, real estate company Tashuv—a start-up that offers property management and rental services for residents of Israel.
“When I came to the job, the previous Android developer was leaving our company, so I picked up where she left off,” said Gal. “I rewrote much of the basic framework and I completed the functionality of the app…the sign-up and login process, the search tool, the server and Google Maps integration, and all the other little pieces that make an app tick.”
As with all Android app development, Gal wrote the program in Android Studio using Java and heavily utilized Android libraries, “including its support, design, and general libraries, as well as one from Facebook.”
Now, his completed app allows users to view listings of rentals managed by Tashuv in the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas. “Currently those are the two main areas, but our hope is that we’ll have all the big cities in Israel on there soon.”
Overall, says Gal, the internship experience was a “great starting experience,” and a worthwhile one – especially when it came to networking. “Although there was a language barrier – my coworkers spoke French or Hebrew; I spoke English – we all managed to get along great…I guess because we all spoke the language of programming!”
Gal, who received a long-term offer after his internship ended, also received other such offers from recruiters in tech companies during his brief six-week stint in Israel. “Jerusalem has a very young and vibrant social life, as well as a burgeoning tech community” he says, “which is why I’d love to live and work professionally here.” Gal also had the chance to visit Tel Aviv for several Google events, which he enjoyed.
The nineteen-year-old junior from Marine Park, Brooklyn, never attended post-high-school yeshiva in Israel, so he appreciated the chance to experience Israel these past few weeks. His internship at Tobeweb was secured with the help of OU-JLIC’s “Summer in Jerusalem” program, which provided him an apartment in the Old City, internship setups with Career Israel, and beis medrash classes every evening at Yeshivat Orayta.
Majoring in computer science, Gal first became interested in programming after reading Little Brother by Cory Doctorow as a high school senior. In the plot, a teenage hacker living in San Francisco rebels against the Department of Homeland Security’s totalitarian actions, forming a network of dissidents to help. “I thought that was so cool. I really wanted to do that, I wanted to be like him,” laughs Gal.
Doctorow, a tech writer and computer scientist, included a list in the back of the book on computer science resources for young adults. Gal looked at the list, and eventually signed up for programming classes on Codecademy, which he enjoyed. He also took several programming courses online at coursera.org—all while in high school.
When he came to LCM, he already knew he wanted to study computer science. “So far, my favorite class has been Data Structures with Dr. Robinson. I really enjoy how data structures work, and the algorithms, which are fun to play with together.”
While “Android is fun to develop with,” Gal wants to pursue a higher level of programming in the future—perhaps, he says, machine learning, a subfield of computer science relating to artificial intelligence that involves training computers to learn things without being directly programmed.
For now, though, he’s excited about staying in the academic world a little longer. “Academically speaking, I’d love to get a graduate degree. Whether that means a broad computer science degree or something more specific like machine learning, I still have to figure it out.”