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The Results of the “Paid Internship for Youth” Project: Almost Half of the Participants Got Job Offers

The options for celebrating the International Youth Day (August 12) were not many last year as the COVID-19 pandemic was raging in Armenia as well as in the whole world. One of the ideas that came up in the result of the discussions with the UNFPA Armenia’s partner Gyumri Youth Initiatives Centre (YIC) NGO was the paid internship project for young people in Shirak Region, Armenia.

“I myself entered the UN Office in Armenia as a participant of a similar internship project many years ago, and I can say that my personal experience combined with the situation in the country formed the basis of the project. It is no secret that one of the most serious problems that youth faces in Armenia is unemployment. Moreover, finding a job that fits one’s education is even more difficult, as employers in most cases prefer hiring people with some experience,” Anna Barfyan, UNFPA Armenia’s Youth Programme Analyst says.


On the left side: Anna Barfyan; On the right side: Mariam Gharagyozyan, the coordinator of the project from YIC

In the framework of the project, agreements were reached with 11 organizations operating in Gyumri, Shirak Region, which committed to provide 11 young people from the region with six months of paid internship supported by UNFPA Armenia.

“The young participants of the project were identified on a competitive basis, and the organizations have indicated their need for human resources themselves,” Artur Najaryan, Head of YIC says.

“The condition was to have a vacant position or the readiness to attach the intern to a position and couch and mentor him/her in the course of six months. It was important that the internship was equally valued both by the interns and by the employers, as on one hand, the employer got the opportunity to develop an employee it needs and to replenish the human resources of the organization without financial contribution, and on the other hand, the young and newly graduated people were able to acquire relevant experience and become skillful and competitive in the labor market,” Artur says.


Tsovinar Harutyunyan, UNFPA Armenia Head of Office, and Artur Najaryan, YIC President, during the project evaluation event

What did the project give?

The participants of the project along with the initiators of the project – the representatives of UNFPA Armenia and YIC, gathered in the Gyumri Youth Initiatives Centre to evaluate the project.


The event was facilitated by Anna Yeghoyan from YIC

“We want to understand what the project has given to you. We want to listen to your impressions. Assessing the effectiveness of any project, especially from the side of the beneficiaries, is very important to us. Besides policy and programmatic changes, individual level changes are also very important. And if we manage to make a positive shift in someone’s life, we can consider our mission completed to a certain degree. After all, it is the cumulative individual success stories that make the basis for the success of a country,” Tsovinar Harutyunyan, UNFPA Armenia Head of Office said in her welcome speech.

The young people evaluated the project using a non-standard method. They painted on sheets of paper their transformation in the course of the project – their ‘key moment’, five things they have received and have given, and the effectiveness of the project through a 100-degree scale.

Asya

Asya Sahakyan from Gyumri has passed her internship in “Aster” Child Development Centre as a pedagogue. “Every day was interesting and colorful. They (children) require much energy, but you receive back even more,” Asya, a graduate of the Shirak State University (ShSU) presents her impressions in Gyumri dialect. For her the ‘key moment’ was in the middle of the project - it was when the children had accepted her and when she was entering the room “they were running forward shouting ‘Hello, Miss Asya’,” Asya says with a wide smile on her face.


Asya says the project made her more open and communicable. She considers the love received from both children and staff as her most important achievement. Also, Asya received a job offer from the employer but, despite the strong desire, she didn’t accept it due to the difficulty to combine the job with her studies.

Hripsime

Hripsime, a social pedagogue, was in love with pedagogy from childhood and dedicated six years to studyinging that discipline. That is why the announcement on the internship project grasped her attention immediately and she applied for an internship at the “Family” Child Development Centre.


Hripsime on the right side

“I am very grateful for this opportunity because it is the most difficult situation when you can’t find a job after graduation and have to stay at home,” says Hripsime who has received a job offer just after the internship and currently works at the center as a pedagogue for the senior group.


To depict her transformation during the internship Hripsime has drawn a girl standing firmly on the ground. “Why have I made this bold part below? Because when you have a job you are more fulfilled and you stand more firmly on the ground, on your feet,” Hripsime explains.

Vahagn

Vahagn Sahakyan, a graduate of ShSU is the only one who has completed the internship in a non-private entity – the Gyumri Municipality as a Real Estate Management Specialist. He considers self-esteem and communication skills as the most important things received during the internship – his job responsibilities required intensive communication with the population. Although Vahagn does not have a job offer yet, he considers the project to be very successful and believes that there should be plenty of similar projects.


Vahagn in the foreground

Larisa

Larisa from Gyumri is a graduate of the Armenian State University of Economics with a specialization in management and has participated in the internship project in a direction new for her – public relations. She interned as a Social Media Manager in the “Crossroads” Educational-Consultancy Centre. “It was when I was developing a text and took a photo for the first time with a professional camera and processed and sent it for approval, and they said it was very good,” Larisa recalls her ‘key moment’.

The internship has changed Larisa’s attitude towards the specialization of social media management: “Before I didn’t perceive it as a specialty. After the internship, however, I set a goal to develop my SMM skills and currently I’m attending classes to learn more,” she says. Larisa currently works but in another company. She assessed the effectiveness of the project 100 points as she valued very much her love towards the new specialty found during the internship.


Larisa received her certificate of participation

Mariam

Mariam Ghazaryan, whose background is in social work, after finishing the internship has accepted three job offers in different organizations. In the meantime, she continues supporting “Emily Aregak” Resource Centre (where she passed her internship) as a volunteer. “In the beginning, it was very difficult as I was dealing with children with disabilities, and it was tough to come up with the correct approach, also, communication with the parents was complicated. My ‘key moment’ was when we achieved a specific goal after a needs assessment, and the parent came and said “Thank you”,” Mariam tells with enthusiasm.


Among her achievements during the internship Mariam lists the ties with a multidisciplinary team, as well as the sense of responsibility. 

The job was difficult – when it requires maximum from you and you perform to your maximal capacity.


Mariam has depicted her transformation during the project in the form of a sun which had only two rays in the beginning: “And now I have everything I need to consider myself as capable and qualified for this sphere.”

Sona

Sona Eyramjyan is a YSU graduate – a Bachelor in History, and the sphere of tourism was appealing for her since university times. “When I encountered this opportunity (especially after COVID-19 vast opportunities for domestic tourism were expected) I was very excited, and the beginning was quite promising,” says Sona who has passed her internship in “Gyumri Tour” as a tour guide. Although the tourism sphere suffered a lot due to COVID-19 and the escalation of the NK conflict, Sona managed to acquire “huge practical knowledge which was not provided at the University.


Sona especially welcomes the fact that the project was implemented in the region. “It was a great step and was very well organized. And everyone was very obliging,” Sona says. She is hopeful to get a job in her preferred sphere as soon as the pandemic allows starting new projects.

Tatev

Specialized in social work, Tatev Ghazaryan has spent the internship in “Gyumri Youth House” Open Youth Centre as a receptionist. The job has allowed Tatev to become braver with the help of the staff. “I acquired much knowledge, became a team player, got skills necessary to work with children, got to know a lot of new people, for which I am grateful,” Tatev says. She was welcomed both by the staff and the children so warmly on the very first day that she thought: “This is what I was looking for.” She would only like the internship to last longer.


Tatev on the right side

Armine

Armine Margaryan got a job offer from “Arevamanuk” Psychosocial Support Foundation immediately after finishing her internship there. “When I saw the announcement, I didn’t imagine that I would apply for the internship in “Arevamanuk” as I didn’t consider it my sphere. However, I decided to risk and the risk was justified,” Armine says. Her job responsibilities include receiving the visitors, registering, providing them information, and maintaining the office order.


Thanks to the project Armine has acquired new knowledge and new acquaintances. “I even started figuring out psychology, and now I can manage myself in stressful situations,” she says. Armine is also sure that the project is successful: “This is a great opportunity for young people to acquire experience and step forward,” Armine notes.

As a Summary

Currently, 5 out of the 11 participants of the project have a fixed-term job – a very inspiring fact for the initiators of the project, UNFPA Armenia and YIC. Almost all the participants, including those who have not found a job after the internship, highly rated the effectiveness of the project – 99 or 100 points out of 100.

At the end of the event, the representatives of the UNFPA Armenia and YIC granted certificates and awards to all the participants. As a response to the gratitude expressed by the participants, Tsovinar Harutyunyan, Head of UNFPA Armenia, said: “It is us who are grateful to you for all the positive energy. We learn a lot from you, and if we listen to each other, we will be able to make our country the way we want it to be.”