ANCA-WR Internship Program Week 11

BY: Ruben Karapetian

University of California, Berkeley: Political Science – Comparative Politics

Our final week of the ANCA WR Internship began with a long awaited presentation by the WR’s own Communications Director, Alex Galitsky. Galitsky’s presentation described to the interns the multifaceted aspects of the ANCA’s communications strategy and how the aspects are integrated into one another. Communication operations of the ANCA occur through multiple channels, whether it be traditional media, new media, social media and other mediums, it is vital that the messaging is targeted, coherent and consistent across the board. Galitsky also emphasized the importance of “message craft” which is at times a process more complicated because it requires an analytical approach to determining what messaging will resonate with our audience. The interns asked questions regarding various scenarios to approaching certain issues and their responses. The intern’s questions also had a focus on social media and how to use those platforms as a tool to broadcast, educate and share information regarding Armenian issues.

On Tuesday the interns were joined by Ruben Janbazian, Editor at the h-pem is a new youth focused online platform that is an initiative of the Hamazkayin, an Armenian Educational and Cultural Society organization that aims to highlight Armenian arts and culture. Janbazian led the discussion by walking the interns through the site and its growing content library. Content on h-pem ranges from artwork, music, literature, cultural commentary and much more. During the subsequent Q&A portion of the discussion Janbazian was curious to know what the interns (apart of the target audience of h-pem) would’ve like to see from the h-pem platform. The interns mainly focused on how new media could play a role in h-pem’s platform. As a fan of arts and culture myself, a platform like h-pem which aims to enlighten youth on Armenian arts and culture is something that I am definitely grateful for and will continue to follow.

Wednesday, the interns were apart of a debate simulation led by the WR’s Government Affairs Director, Arsen Shirvanyan. The interns were divided into groups who would debate topics ad hoc in the hopes of convincing the rest of the audience of one side or another. Topics of debate included hypothetical questions like which Presidential Candidate is best for the Armenian Community, what political groups should the ANCA seek to build relationships with, and lastly a debate on the implications of the 2009 Protocols between Armenia and Turkey. These exercises were meant to help the interns learn and hone in skills like decisive decision making and argumentation. After the debates were finished Shirvanyan gave the interns a chance to review and ask questions about their debate performance, laying out the “Dos and don’ts” of debating.

On Thursday, the students were greeted by The Hon. Judge Zaven Sinanian. Many of the interns are interested in pursuing a career in Law, so having a lawyer and Judge share his experiences was very insightful. Judge Sinanian, is currently a Superior Court Judge for Los Angeles and a pro tem Judge for the California Court of Appeals. Born in Cyprus and leaving at the age of 14 during the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus, Sinanian and his family settled in Illinois where he would go on to study law. Judge Sinanian described how he became a judge. During the 80s, Governor George Deukmejian of California had appointed quite a few Armenian judges to CA’s judicial system. By the late 90s and early 00s many of these judges were retiring. Judge Sinanian was approached and asked to consider applying to the state of CA to be appointed as a judge. He described the process of applying to the state and was appointed as Judge by Governor Gray Davis in 2002. The interns had plenty of questions regarding his profession and what it is like being a judge.

On the final day of the internship, the interns convened for our final weekly round-up. We were asked by the staff to share our thoughts and impressions of the week’s presenters. Following that, the staff asked the interns to share their thoughts, comments and suggestions about the internship as a whole. Everyone got a chance to share their favorite moments, presenters and also make suggestions on how to structure the upcoming fall internship class. A quick game of trivia was the last thing the interns participated in before saying their good byes to one another and the staff.

I can say with full confidence that I have made lifelong friends and connections through the ANCA WR Internship. I will continue to help in whatever way possible in advancing the Armenian cause. I look forward to applying the skills and know-how I gained during this internship in my future endeavors. I will be forever indebted to the ANCA and its staff for helping me grow as an active member of our community and preparing me for the future ahead. I’m certain the rest of the internship class shares the same sentiment. Thank you ANCA WR for this invaluable opportunity.

ANCA-WR Internship Program Week 10

BY: Martin Makaryan

UCLA, Political Science

The tenth week of ANCA Western Region’s Summer Internship program was full of interesting meetings and lectures, great tweets aimed at uncovering the heinous nature and some of the countless wrongdoings of the Aliyev regime in Azerbaijan, as well as fun and “healthy” discussions.

On Monday, the week started with a successful initiative of coordinated campaign on different social media platforms, organized collectively by the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) and the ANCA Western Region Summer 2020 Interns. The goal of the social media campaign was to expose the true face of the genocidal regime of Ilham Aliyev by providing accurate information regarding the latest aggression by Azerbaijan last July which left dozens of soldiers dead on both sides and even more injured, as well as the systematic human rights abuses in Azerbaijan and the aspects of radical Armenophobia that the country has adopted as its official policy. As the largest internship class of ANCA-WR, we were happy and honored to participate actively in this great initiative as a countermeasure to the huge resources that the Aliyev regime is pouring into social media efforts to spread false information and stain the reputation of the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh. Even those interns (such as me) who did not use Twitter, decided to create an account, to make contributions to this campaign and continue engaging in raising awareness. As a result of this coordinated effort of the Armenian communities around the world (especially in the US) and other concerned citizens, the hashtag #StopAliyev trended in Los Angeles and in the United States for hours delivering a morning surprise to Ilham Aliyev.

On Tuesday, the interns had the pleasure to meet Jack Hadjinian, former Mayor of Montebello (Calif.) and a current member of the City Council. Although Mr. Hadjinian’s schedule was completely changed after some unexpected events in the morning, the councilmember was able to find time to talk to the interns about the pressing issues of the day. More specifically, the councilmember had just presented hours before our meeting his resignation to the Board of Directors of the LA County Sheriff’s Youth Foundation because of the irresponsible decision to host a town hall with the so-called “Azerbaijani-American community.” Later, it was revealed that the community conversation was in fact organized thanks to the interference of the Azerbaijani Consulate in LA meaning that the platform would most certainly become another occasion for the Azerbaijani government to spread hateful anti-Armenian propaganda. The councilmember talked about his resignation and the developing events that day, but also introduced the interns to the history of the Armenian community in Montebello, the challenges of local government and his career path as a politician. The presentation was then followed by questions from the fellow interns regarding some of the more pressing questions, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and public safety.

On Wednesday, the interns welcomed Vache Thomassian, Esq., who delivered an interesting lecture about Justice and Solidarity. Mr. Thomassian talked about the philosophical definitions and aspects of these abstract ideas encouraging the interns to consider various issues in an unbiased manner in order to come to a fair conclusion. The speaker also talked about justice and solidarity within the Armenian community and emphasized the importance of showing solidarity with other oppressed groups. Mr. Thomassian also used his time to touch on the fundamental principles of ANCA as a political organization representing the voice of the Armenian-American community. As always, the presentation was followed by a Q&A session during which interns asked follow-up questions about the presentation and questions regarding the speaker’s career path and his advice to the interns who are planning to go into the legal field.

On Thursday, the ANCA Western Region staff welcomed the interns to the organization’s headquarters in Glendale, California. Although the pandemic has changed almost every aspect of our lives, the staff had taken every precaution to make sure the visit of the interns was safe and done in a responsible manner. The interns met with their respective supervisors and took pictures together. Every intern then had a brief interview (my interview took quite some time due to unexpected twists during the filming process) and talked about their overall experience this summer, their involvement in the Armenian community and their advice to the future interns. At the end, the interns received amazing gifts with ANCA-WR logos and heart-warming postcards from the amazing staff. Although fellow interns, Tatyana (Arizona) and Alex (Nevada) could not make it to the office, I am sure they will have the opportunity to visit the office and the staff in Glendale in the future. 

Finally, on Friday, the interns had their weekly check-in meeting and the traditional discussion about current events in Armenia and elsewhere. The interns gave updates regarding the progress of their respective projects and Tatyana delivered a short presentation regarding some interesting developments in Armenia. From there, a discussion followed about the latest interview of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to BBC. As rewarding experiences such as this internship come to a close, participants are generally a little bit sad. However, this week was extraordinary in that it was full of genuine laughter, sometimes at the right time and sometimes not really. At any rate, however sad we may be that this wonderful experience is coming to its end, we make sure to keep a positive and fun environment and complete the internship with beautiful smiles and the determination to advance the Armenian Cause, whenever and wherever possible.

ANCA-WR Internship Program Week 9

BY: Mena Keshishzadeh

UC Berkeley, Political Science

Week 9 kicked off with ANCA-WR Board Member Gev Iskajyan’s lecture focused on elections and candidate endorsements. Iskajyan’s presentation allowed the interns to get a better understanding of the inner workings of a campaign and how priorities are set. He also spoke about the strengths that are correlated with having a community that depends on ANCA-WR to endorse the candidates that are usually supporting Armenian-American issues.

Iskajyan also gave the interns a lesson about Real Politics and how issues-based solidarity differs from transactional support. This tied in with how the ANCA goes about when analyzing and endorsing candidates as well as the effect this has on the outcome of an election.

On Tuesday, the Western Region interns were invited to a zoom meeting with the ANCA Leo Sarkissian interns. The interns had a chance to meet one another and discuss the projects they had worked on during their internship tenure. It allowed for bridges to be built and connections be made.

During the meeting, the Western Region interns also got to hear about the Leo Sarkisian Internship as well as the Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program which allows young professionals to get their foot into governmental work. Tereza Yerimyan, who had met the interns from previous meetings, gave a rundown on how each program works.  Both programs are designed to give students and young professionals the tools necessary to effectively advance issues of concern to the Armenian American community on the federal, state and local level and gain professional experience. 

The meeting was a great success in that new friendships were formed and the interns learned about new opportunities for the future!

On Wednesday August 5, Dickran Khodianian spoke to the interns about Javakh. First, the interns were given historical context on Javakh, a region which now belongs in Georgia. Khodanian spoke about the history of the Armenian community. He spoke about how the two communities of new and old Armenians began to coexist and populate this region. This issue is interesting, yet complicated. Khodanian also went into Javakh Aid, and spoke about his personal experience of taking resources and goods into Javakh. Our internship coordinator, Verginie Touloumian also gave her insight and experiences during the call. The meeting was not only informative, but inspirational.

On Thursday, the interns had a meeting with Aram Manoukian from the AYF. The meeting was meant to inform the interns about what the AYF exactly is and does. Manoukian spoke about the history, mission and impact of the AYF, mentioning that it is similar to the ANCA, but a bit less governmental based. Interns got to learn about how the AYF functions as well as how to get involved. Manoukian gave insights on his experience at the AYF, mentioning that it has connected him to various Armenians around the globe. He talked about how he has met Armenians from all around the world including Argentina, Lebanon and Iran. He mentioned that the connections built within the community lead to lifelong friendships. Interns were told about the relationship between the ANCA and the AYF, as they are sister organizations which both advocate for the Armenian cause. This meeting allowed for the interns to learn about another way to stay involved and further their impact after the internship.

On Fridays, the interns meet to recap and talk about the previous week. This gives the interns a chance to reflect on what they have learned and to further the conversations started by the speakers. The interns take turns speaking about what meetings they enjoyed and what they learned throughout the week. Attention is also focused on giving updates on the interns personal projects and keeping each other informed about what is going on. The meeting consisted of the western region interns speaking about how they loved meeting the interns from England and the East Coast. Several of the interns had also planned future zoom meetings with the other interns to discuss projects and share ideas. Fridays are great because the interns get to chat amongst themselves and share their thoughts and ideas while reflecting on the vast amount of information they learned throughout the week. 

ANCA-WR Internship Program Week 8

BY: Kyle Hacopian

University of California, Los Angeles

Political Science & International Relations

This past Monday the interns welcomed Nana Shakhnazaryan along with Anahit Aharonian and Federico Hairabedian of South America as guest speakers. Each of the guests presented extensively on their respective experiences and works.

Nana’s presentation was followed by Anahit who presented her experience being an Uruguayan born Armenian. Anahit also discussed her experiences as an Armenian in Uruguay. The presentation concluded with Federico speaking of his own personal experiences of being born in Argentina and being the son of Luisa Hairabedian. He concluded the presentation with discussing his career as an attorney.

On Tuesday, the GOP Chair of California, Jessica Patterson joined us with her Executive Assistant, Alex Keledjian where we discussed politics surrounding Los Angeles and the state of California more broadly. Both Patterson and Keledjian believed that positive outcomes would result from a change of party leadership in the state. Throughout this internship I have been repeatedly reminded of the mass of political clout held by the ANCA that it can have well-known political individuals, regardless of party, present to us as interns. This speaks volumes to the bipartisan nature of the ANCA and its aim to attract members from both sides of the aisle.

Wednesday was certainly a busy day as we had two events scheduled. We started off with a presentation by Hermineh Pakhanians of the ANCA-WR who discussed the founding and history of the Near East Foundation. In essence, the Foundation was The Untied States’ humanitarian response to the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Although I was aware of the Foundation and its basic role in the wake of Ottoman Turkish aggression early in the 20th-century, I was unaware of the countless Armenians, Greeks, and other minorities it saved in the Near East.

Following this presentation, the interns had the pleasure of attending a virtual masterclass put together and hosted by my committee, the ANCA Professional Network. The Professional Network invited Yeva Papayan to provide a brief history lesson on traditional Armenian musicians, instruments and songs. Best of all, Yeva held a special live performance for us of famous Armenian songs including Sari Siroon Yar by Gusan Ashot and Hey Jan Ghapama by Harout Pamboukjian.  I have spent the entirety of this internship working with the Professional Network managing social media, automating mass email campaigns, and assisting young professionals to navigate obstacles commonly found in education and professional pursuits alike.

Thursday was our last day of presentations for the week and we had the pleasure of having Representative Mari Manoogian speak to us. Representative Manoogian represents the 40th district of Michigan in the state’s House of Representatives and is arguably the youngest Armenian-American woman in politics within the United States. Representative Manoogian has been a steadfast advocate for the Armenian-American community and we thank her for being able to join us on Thursday.

Friday consisted of our weekly check-in meeting where we discussed our experiences and thoughts on the week. Friday was also a special day for me as I filmed a promotional video for the ANCA PN and joined the Zoom call at the ANCA-WR office. It was great visiting the office during these uncertain times and I look forward to a time in the near future where myself along with the rest of my fellow interns and ANCA-WR staff can meet in person.

ANCA-WR Summer Internship Week 7

BY: Katrina Akbarian

UCLA, Philosophy

We began week 7 of the ANCA-WR summer internship program by welcoming Paul Krekorian, Los Angeles City Council Member to our Monday meeting. Krekorian began by explaining his background. Prior to running for LA City Council, Mr. Krekorian was a practicing attorney for 20 years. In his first campaign in 2000, he gained immense support from the Armenian community; many young Armenians would go door to door informing and encouraging the Armenian community to vote, something they were unfamiliar with. Although he was not elected, the community started becoming active and engaging in issues. This ultimately led to his election to the Burbank Board of Education in 2003; and after several years, Mr. Krekorian was elected as a member of the LA City Council. The city council member then went to emphasize the importance of advocacy and action. He stated that it is important “for all of us to not just be spectators but participants of the government”.  Fellow intern Martin Makaryan, asked about the issue of homelessness in Los Angeles and what measures the city is taking to address it. Councilmember Krekorian responded by identifying homelessness as a multi-layered humanitarian issue. He went to provide the interns with some positive news that the City of Los Angeles is opening up 400 units of permanent housing in the next two weeks for those in need of shelter. 

On Tuesday, the interns took a break from lectures and instead worked on raising awareness about the recent ceasefire violation and aggression by Azerbaijan along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. 

The following day, our intern class spoke to UCLA alumni and current JD candidate, Razmig Sarkissian, who explained the “Divest Turkey” movement launched by the Armenian Youth Federation. Mr. Sarkissian discussed how this movement was inspired by the successful Anti-Apartheid movement that persisted throughout the twentieth century. He highlighted how the Armenian students in their ASAs worked with AYF to do independent research and began lobbying the USAC (Undergraduate Student Association Council) of UCs, CSUs, and Community Colleges. He concluded his presentation by highlighting that after five years of advocacy, Governor Newsom signed the divestment bill into law last year, highlighting how the student movement reached Sacramento Capitol. 

On Thursday, our intern class had the pleasure to meet Anna Mouradian, Chief Deputy for the LA County’s 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger. Mrs. Mouradian introduced herself and discussed her passion for helping others. Although she was not active in the Armenian community as a young adult, she has made it a personal goal of hers to immerse herself in all Armenian organizations. She explained how her position is a “24 hour job; and that helping others is not contingent on a 9-5 schedule”. After explaining in depth the ins and outs of her position, I asked her,  “What advice do you have for us young advocates planning on entering the public sector or legal field”? Mrs. Mouradian advised us to be enthusiastic in everything we do and always go the extra mile. She went on to say that it is important to be open-minded and able to have difficult conversations with people we may not agree with. Her last message was the following: “no matter what your aspirations are, do it with integrity and character”. 

On Friday, the interns spent the time debriefing about the different community activities, the rise in Armenophobic incidents, and the hate crime that was committed on the KZV Armenian School. The interns gave an update on their projects and how it is important to continue advocating for issues on social media. —

ANCA-WR Summer Internship: Week 6

BY: Moss Woodbury

George Washington University, Political Science and History

This Monday we had the honor of welcoming Congressman Adam Schiff who represents the 28th Congressional District of California and most of us in the ANCA-WR summer Intern class. Though he did not have too much time with us (being a Congressman with a tight schedule), he had enough time for a few of our questions. Being a long-time supporter of the Armenian cause, Congressman Schiff spoke about the border conflict that began on July 12, the day before and about his work in passing the resolution where Congress recognized the Armenian Genocide. He also spoke about what he thought was the most important quality in a politician, which he viewed as good character.

Also on Monday, after Congressman Schiff left us we had a lecture from Joseph Kaskanian,  a board member of the ANCA-WR about the importance of Social Media. He showed us various tools of how to properly promote posts on social media, focusing on Facebook ads. He also told us about Meltwater, an extremely versatile tool that we can use for many tasks in regards to gauging nationwide attention to issues that the ANCA cares about. Specifically, we looked at how various Media outlets responded to the 1.5 million meals for 1.5 million lives initiative. 

On Tuesday, we welcomed another esteemed representative, California State Senator Anthony Portantino. Portantino, like Congressman Schiff, represents a huge portion of Armenians in his district, covering much of northern LA County, including Glendale and Pasadena. He popped in on our Zoom Call sitting under Artsakh as his virtual background. Talking about his time as the chair of the California State Senate Select Committee on California, Armenia and Artsakh Mutual Trade, Art and Cultural Exchange, Senator Portantino highlighted his decision to include Artsakh in the name of the committee and his continued support for the Armenian cause. The senator spoke on other issues as well, including the homelessness crisis in California and the topic of defunding the police. What surprised most of us is how funny and down-to-earth, and casual Senator Portantino was, (he recommended that we watch the Anime show Death Note) Most of us interns were nervous (in varying degrees) before he and Congressman Schiff spoke the day before, but hearing them in person made us realize how they are still just people.

On Wednesday we had the honor of welcoming Patil Toutoundjian, the founder of Tatik Streetwear, an independent Armenian clothing shop with artwork by Armenian artists. She also told us all about the Birthright Armenia program, whereby people can volunteer and live in Armenia for a significant amount of time. The program allows young diaspora Armenians the opportunity for professional growth at a subsidized rate, with weekly excursions to cultural sites of importance across the country. We heard some of Tatik’s stories from her time at Birthright as well as our communications director Alex Galitsky’s hilarious story of getting lost in Dilijan National Park. Most of the interns had not heard of Birthright Armenia before, and I believe that many of us would apply once (and if) we become eligible. 

Thursday we did not have a lecture, instead we had a “Negotiation Workshop” organized by Armen Sahakyan. In this simulation, we each played as a country or NGO involved in negotiations on the UNEP surrounding Mercury attempting to come to agreements over four different issues. We began with an hour of formal discussion of these four issues presided over by Anna, who played the chair. Afterwards, we had a short period of informal discussion where various countries got to discuss the issues and make deals in breakout rooms. Ultimately, Martin, who played the role of the Chief Scientist of the World Coal Power Association, managed to lobby Brazil (Kyle), despite Canada’s (myself) best efforts. Overall, the interns (myself included) expressed that this was quite a fun experience, even for the many of us who had not taken part in Model UN or other activities..

On Friday we filmed a short video calling for action in response to continued Azeri aggression along the border in Armenia. We discussed different ideas of how we could better spread the word on social media and about the upcoming protest many of us will attend on Tuesday. We finished the week with a round of Trivia about flags and capital cities, where Armen took away my two-week long streak at trivia, winning Proper Company’s Zanazan: Armenian Magnets.

While I have enjoyed every week of the internship so far, I must say that this has been an especially interesting and fun week, given our illustrious speakers and our Negotiations activity. It is also a somewhat uneasy week, given current events happening in Armenia. In any case, I look forward to next week!

Interns Meet with Rep. Adam Schiff

On Monday July 13, 2020, Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-28) met with the ANCA-WR Summer 2020 Interns virtually and discussed a wide range of issues facing our nation and the Armenian-American community. 

After brief introductions by the interns, Rep. Adam Schiff discussed the latest on the global pandemic and the legislations that are being debated in Congress.  He shared his thoughts on the current state of the nation and  reported about California’s new mandates on business closures. He urged everyone to listen to health officials in order to flatten the curve again and slow down the spread of the virus. Rep. Schiff raised his concern regarding the recent provocative actions taken by Azerbaijan in the midst of a global pandemic along the Armenian border by shelling Armenian soldiers and said that he has already publicly urged the State Department to call for restraint and diplomacy. Rep. Schiff conveyed the recent developments from the Appropriations Committee that included information on the demining efforts in Artsakh. 

Based on questions from the interns, Rep. Schiff also addressed the 2019 H-Res 296 Resolution that called on the Recognition of the Armenian Genocide, U.S.-Armenia strategic partnership, and the U.S.-Artsakh relations and shared his experiences as the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.  Rep. Shiff, Armenian Community Representative, Mary Hovaguimian also joined the call.

ANCA-WR Summer Internship: Week 5

BY: Anna Azaryan

UCSD, Public Policy

We began week 5 of the ANCA-WR summer internship program by welcoming LA County District Attorney candidate George Gascón to our Monday meeting. The DA candidate introduced himself as a Cuban-born Californian who wound up serving in the U.S. Army, eventually finding his way into the LAPD. After becoming chief of police, Gascon was appointed District Attorney of San Francisco by Governor Newsom. Eventually, Gascon made his way back to LA and described how these career and life changes aided in the evolution of his ideologies. The interns then had a chance to ask about his policies on human trafficking, prosecutorial transparency, and other issues he plans to tackle in office. The former San Francisco DA also shared his ideas on our current prison system opposing our “concrete boxes” and mass incarceration with his exposure to open prisons in Germany and their focus on rehabilitation. He also mentioned the possibility of eliminating prosecutorial bias with artificial intelligence technology per his experiences in San Francisco. He answered every question we had and opened up about his personal life and role as a father. 

The following day, our intern class had the opportunity to speak with Sedda Antekelian and Manuk Avedikyan of the USC Shoah Foundation. The non-profit organization’s mission is to develop empathy, understanding, and respect through testimony. Manuk informed us that the organization is home to the largest archive of audio-visual witness and survivor accounts in the world with more than 55,000 testimonies about the Holocaust and Armenian Genocide, among others. Avedikian gave the interns an informative tutorial on how to navigate their visual history archive (VHA) and access translated interviews of genocide survivors and witnesses. Sedda then showed us the “iWitness” platform, the foundation’s free educational website which provides students and educators with curated clips of testimonies, educational activities, and resources like teacher guides for genocide education. Sedda prompted us to take part in an activity based on the film “The Promise”. We watched a clip of the movie depicting Armenophobia, then a clip of a genocide survivor’s own experience witnessing his father be a victim of Armenophobia. The exercise showed us the importance of contextualizing history to educate.

Trivia Day fell on Wednesday with a general trivia Kahoot covering history, culture, and geography made by our own Armen Sahakyan. The reigning champ, Moss, took an early lead in the game and while some got close, none could take his title. Moss was crowned the winner and won a $50 CAD Gift Card from Tatik Streetwear

On Thursday, we welcomed Professional Network board member Alina Sarkissian to talk to us about interview skills. The CSUN graduate reminisced about her internship days both at the ANCA Western Region and the ANCA Leo Sarkissian Internship in Washington DC, and  talked about her current role as the program coordinator for UCLA’s Anderson School of Business. The lesson began with the three Ps: prepare, practice, present. To prepare for an interview you should become familiar with the company background, have a strong understanding of the job, and prepare your elevator pitch and 3 stories that show your character and skills. Alina then had us do an exercise to perfect and practice our pitches and stories, and some interns volunteered to share. She finished the presentation with the 4 keys of presentation and the Dos and Don’ts of dress codes. We ended the meeting with questions and Sarkissian shared her expertise on how to impress but not boast, how to answer the infamous “what’s your greatest weakness?” question, and she reminded us that ultimately in the employer-employee dynamic, “They need you”.

Friday marked our weekly check-in and all the interns had a chance to catch up. We began by recalling Week 5 and shared our impressions of all our wonderful speakers and their presentations, then described our current workload and the status of our projects. Two of our interns, Katrina and Mena, gave current events presentations surrounding Armenian matters, which concluded with a discussion of the Hagia Sophia led by Communications Director, Alex Galitsky.

ANCA WR Interns Meet with George Gascón

On Monday July 6, 2020, ANCA-WR Summer 2020 Interns were provided an exclusive opportunity to meet with LA County District Attorney candidate George Gascón. Gascón spoke about his experiences as a former Los Angeles police officer and Mesa, Arizona, police chief, and his eventual ascent to the District Attorney position in San Francisco. He recalled the reforms he implemented in San Francisco including the open-source bias mitigation tool that uses artificial intelligence to remove the potential for implicit bias from prosecutors’ charging decisions. He went on to explain the jails he has visited in Europe and drew comparisons with those in the US that often lead to mass incarceration. He focused on his relationship and open-dialogue with his children and the kind of reforms he would like to implement when elected. 

The interns then had a chance to ask about his policies on human trafficking, prosecutorial transparency, and other issues he plans to tackle in office. During the conversation, Gascón said that he was proud to be an ANCA-WR endorsed candidate and reiterated his support to continuously engage with the Armenian-American community, as well as other marginalized communities to ensure that Los Angeles thrives in a safe environment. At the conclusion of the meeting, Gascón urged the interns to exercise their right to vote during the upcoming elections and continuously engage with issues that affect their communities.

ANCA-WR Summer 2020 Interns with George Gascón

ANCA-WR Summer Internship: Week 4

BY: Christine Almadjian

GCC, Political Science & International Relations

On Monday, we were pleased to have Assemblywoman Laura Friedman with us. Alongside her Field Representative Victoria Dochoghlian, the interns were able to hear about the structure and function of her duties. Since Asm. Friedman is responsible for representing a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities in a handful of cities, it was incredibly informative to hear about how she applies inclusivity in all aspects of her work in Sacramento. Some of the questions posed by the interns included those on police reform, lobbying, and COVID- 19 relief efforts. Towards the end of the presentation, the interns also had a chance to meet her dog who greeted everyone on Zoom.

On Tuesday, the interns were honored to the Executive Director of ANC Australia, Haig Kayserian join us. During this call, we were able to understand how important Armenian outreach within smaller communities is, and just how intertwined we really are. Some efforts pointed out by Haig were those of relief centers for Armenian refugees, internship opportunities, and legislative action potentials regarding Artsakh’s recognition. We were beyond thrilled to have a chance to learn more about advocacy work undertaken throughout Australia and also asked him questions about the Armenian community in New Zealand, how the process of passing bills work, and the importance of lobbying. 

We kicked-off Wednesday with a 21st birthday (quarantine and internship edition). Happy Birthday to Moss! Shortly after, we were given a wonderful presentation by Shaunt Kevork, the Chair of ANCA Professional Network. He gave us insights regarding networking, setting up professional outreach on LinkedIn, and the importance of establishing reliability and connections within the professional network. The interns were then able to ask advice on how to set up a successful LinkedIn profile, develop a professional image, and foster enduring connections. 

The interns checked in on Thursday to another birthday! Happiest birthday to our program director and mentor Verginie, as we are beyond happy to have her alongside us and appreciate her guidance. We were joined by Alik Ourfalian, a graduate student pursuing international law who has devoted her interest to the study of Artsakh conflict. She shared a powerpoint presentation with us that went into an in-depth explanation about notions like territorial integrity, rights to self-determination, and what can be done to promote impactful affirmation of Artsakh’s independent status internationally. 

Friday was our traditional check-in session, which allowed us all to unpack and speak a bit about the week we experienced, both outside and within the internship. It was also Martin’s birthday, and we wish him the happiest one on his flight to Hawaii! 

The interns discussed the presentations, how interesting and compelling they all were, and what to expect of the upcoming week. We were also able to discuss the projects each of us are working on with our assigned supervisors, and how they related to the guest speakers’ presented topics. Whether this ranges from our interns working within the Education Committee to the Professional Network, all projects have been so informative and are worked on very efficiently. 

I have the honor of working beside Anna Azaryan, under the supervision of ANCA-WR Government Affairs Director, Arsen Shirvanyan on Education related initiatives and on the HyeCount campaign, to encourage the Armenian community to complete the Census by marking themselves Armenian on the questionnaire.