Armenian professionals, students and those exploring a career change recently converged from around the globe at the 11th annual Mentoring and Networking Forum, organized by The Armenian American Health Professionals Organization (AAHPO) and the Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America Northeastern Section (AESA – NE). The free event, held virtually this year for the first time due to the pandemic, provided participants with an opportunity to consult with mentors and network with their peers. Professional disciplines represented included the fields of law, medicine/healthcare, biomedical/pharma, behavioral science, finance/business, general engineering, computer science/IT/cybersecurity, civil/structural/bridge engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical/computer engineering.
“It is wonderful to see so many Armenian professionals volunteer their time to help guide others in their career decisions,” said AAHPO president Larry Najarian, MD. “Mentoring reflects the strength and camaraderie of our global Armenian community, where accomplished mentors strive to empower mentees to achieve career success in their own right.”
“Holding the event virtually this year actually had its advantages, as it enabled Armenians worldwide to be a part of this important event,” said AESA president Raffi Jamgotchian. “The Forum was so well-received that we are considering offering it more than once per year, and expanding the activities to include career building, resume writing and critiquing, and job search strategies using social media.”
A brief introduction and overview of the Forum’s agenda was presented by AESA executive board member Shaunte Baboumian. “Despite the difficulties we all faced during the past year, there was a renewed energy to work together to overcome any obstacles,” she said. “The beauty of this forum is that, in addition to being helpful to those starting out in their careers, it is also beneficial for established professionals who would like to investigate a career change, which we saw a lot of this time.”
After acknowledging the partnering organizations and individuals whose assistance made the event possible, Jamgotchian introduced AESA member and mentee-turned-mentor, Maral Muradian, whose story stands as a testament to the value of the Mentoring Forum. While studying civil engineering in college, Muradian made a networking connection at a previous AAHPO/AESA Mentoring Forum prior to graduating. “That connection led to a summer internship, which then turned into a job offer before I even graduated,” she recalled. “Studying hard, communicating well with others and demonstrating a strong work ethic, along with the power of a networking connection, are all important elements in landing a job.” Muradian returned to the Forum this year as a mentor, to provide others with the same counsel and guidance that she received.
Keynote speaker Margarita Baghdasaryan, staff member of the Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs of Armenia, spoke next, describing her incredible journey as a US-born repatriate now residing in Yerevan. Baghdasaryan’s “calling” to Armenia began when she first visited the country in 2013, and she subsequently became involved in several non-profit initiatives over the next few years. “After graduating from the London School of Economics with a degree in Political Science, I began to search for opportunities to work in Armenia to fulfill my interest in Armenian politics and government,” she said. “We are the generation that has a vast, untapped potential to build Armenia. Through the individual efforts of those in the Diaspora, we can collectively contribute to the strength and security of our homeland.”
Following the introductions, participants moved freely between discipline-specific breakout rooms, where they met with mentors and asked questions to explore different professional fields. Daphne E. Telfeyan, Esq., became involved in the Mentoring and Networking Forum through the Armenian Bar Association and provided insight in the field of law in one of the rooms. “Most professionals are eager to offer guidance to those seeking entry, and it is in this spirit that I gladly served as a mentor,” she said. “I am pleased to support Armenian students and, given my long career in legal recruitment and law school career services, channeled my efforts toward helping them in their quest for information.” Mentee Nareh Saghatelian’s affiliation with AESA, as well as her desire to expand her professional network, prompted her to participate in the event. “Connections can provide insight into companies and jobs that you may not currently have and can assist in the process of identifying the best fit for you professionally,” she said. “I met numerous individuals from diverse industries at the Mentoring and Networking Forum, proving that virtual events such as this can benefit many.”
The inception of the Mentoring and Networking Forum began in 2009, when AESA founder Vahan Tanal and AAHPO board member Garbis Baydar, MD saw a need for Armenian professionals to guide and mentor Armenian youth with their career choices. What began with twenty students and five mentors from the healthcare and engineering fields has now grown to attract large numbers of people of all ages and encompass a wide spectrum of professional disciplines.
Organizations that also contributed to this year’s virtual event included: Armenian Bar Association (ABA); Armenian International Women’s Association NJ – Affiliate (AIWA); Armenian Network of America – Greater New York Region; Armenian Behavioral Science Association (ABSA); and the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU).