On my very first day of classes at Boston University, my economics professor was quick to point out that “there is not enough time to do everything, so we need to learn how to make choices.” That line has stuck with me over the years, because it reminds me that life is filled with sacrifices. The fact that there are only so many hours in a day means there is a finite number of sports we can play, clubs we can join, classes we can take, people can meet, and places we can work. This simple, yet painful aspect of our lives combined with the increased competition to get into good schools and land prestigious, lucrative jobs can lead young Armenians like myself to sacrifice our Armenian involvement to do other things.
I once read a Washington Post article that explained today’s competitive job searching landscape. Employers expect “23 year old new graduates to act like 35 year old experienced workers.” That is why I believed for the longest time that I would need to take a step back from the Armenian community to make time for school, my professional development, and new friends. But fortunately, that’s not the case.
Getting involved in the Armenian community can strengthen your social life, and even save you time in the long run. As an active member of the Armenian community, I can almost guarantee you will find your closest friends at AYF meetings, Camp Haiastan, ANCA programs, Armenian dances, and other social functions meant to get Armenians to meet. Through these strong, sustainable friendships, typically challenging things like finding roommates, people to spend your free time with, and people who are willing to give you advice become a whole lot easier. And you can spend the time you save finding people to do all of those things by tackling academic work, pursuing a hobby, or anything you want. That is to say when you get more involved in the Armenian community, you save time by having a huge chunk of your social network practically built for you.
The same is true for your professional network. Increasing your engagement with the Armenian community can make the process of growing your professional network much easier. There are countless Armenians working in companies around the world who are happy to help other Armenians get a head start. And with organizations like the ANCA and the Armenian Business Network, there are always new ways to meet new Armenian professionals. This summer, I interned for the ANCA, where I was introduced to working professionals in the D.C. area. These connections are crucial, because the probability of getting hired for any given job, according to Business Insider, is much lower without a referral. Furthermore, the value in making these connections lies not only in the increased probability that you will land a job, but in the time you will save by not needing to apply to hundreds of jobs online. Don’t get me wrong, it takes time to learn how to network effectively, and it will be a bit nerve-racking at first, but establishing meaningful connections is always easier with other friendly Armenians.
Unfortunately, my professor is right, and our time really is limited. That will always be the case no matter who you are. As a young person in today’s world, you must accept that reaching your goals will require many sacrifices, push you to reevaluate your priorities, and take responsibility for how you manage your time. And, that means that you may have to skip an AYF or an ASA meeting to study for a midterm. But before you make a habit of skipping those meetings or turn a blind eye to that ANCA or AGBU internship, think about how that investment of your time will pay off later on. Build your Armenian network, and you will have a stronger foundation for your future, as well as the time to enjoy it.
Boston University, Class of 2020
2018 ANCA Leo Sarkisian Intern