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.