Left to right: Interns Nara Mnatsakanyan and Inga Siradeghyan.

In December 2019, two graduate students from the Yerevan State University, Department of Geography and Geology started their internship in the Advanced Science and Partnerships for Integrated Resource Development (ASPIRED) Project, a United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded activity. Over the past ten months, they successfully completed their assignments and deliverables, and have helped enhance sustainable management of groundwater resources in Ararat Valley of Armenia. Their assignments  were quite technical and complex, so Project Staff provided  continuous mentorship and supervision. We talked to the interns who shared their impressions of the internship: what they learned, what experience and knowledge they gained during the relatively short period of internship, how they applied them in practice. 

Practical application of knowledge is the key to becoming a good professional…

Inga Siradeghyan

Ms. Siradeghyan attending a training session on geographic information systems contextual tools for mapping.

“Since I was a student, I dreamed of obtaining a Master’s degree to deepen my professional knowledge and pave my way for a future career. My Master’s thesis was about modeling and assessment of the level of danger of avalanches in Zangezur Mountain Range of Syunik region of Armenia. The topic was not easy, requiring advanced tools and skills for their targeted application. This is where the opportunity with the ASPIRED Project internship came to help.

After joining the USAID ASPIRED Project, a new and endless horizon opened for me. As an intern, I came to understand the practical aspects of my profession and learned to effectively use my capacities and skills for achievement of specific professional goals and tasks.

I applied the innovative approaches and tools introduced by ASPIRED for water resources management, to conduct studies for my thesis, particularly, the Geographic Information System (ArcGIS) and the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) analytical method. Working in the ArcGIS environment, I developed the skills and experience of using practical tools, which were later applied to model avalanche-prone areas of  Zangezur Mountain Range and assess the risks of their danger. Thus, the new skills I acquired can be used to conduct thorough analyses, both strategic and economic, and propose sound solutions to existing issues in different sectors. I am sure that this knowledge will help me to be competitive in the labor market as a beginner.

In addition, while working on the ASPIRED Project, I acquired a number of other skills that served as a cornerstone for my current work: the compilation and organization of databases, and the analysis of temporal and spatial datasets within the ArcGIS.”

Since July 2020, right after completing the ASPIRED internship, Inga started a new job as an assistant to an expert at the Community Consolidation and Support Center NGO based in her native town Alaverdi. Together with her colleagues, Inga works on identification and analysis of various issues in the communities of  Lori region of Armenia, raising cases of human rights violations, and providing advice and other support, while applying the knowledge and experience gained under the ASPIRED Project.

At the end of our conversation Inga mentioned: “Apart from all that , I would like to emphasize that during my internship with the ASPIRED Project, I learned to work with a professional team, acquire knowledge, listen to and learn from them, and grow both professionally and personally. I consider this as an important gain: serve as an effective member of the team and be part of an important program.”

Nara Mnatsakanyan

“My final thesis was “Real Estate Transactions in Medieval Armenia,” linked to the prototype of the cadastral system and transactions in Medieval Armenia. Obviously, this was a complex topic that required reliable data, identification of potential sources, and extensive data analysis.

Based on the modeling experience gained during my internship in the ASPIRED Project, I developed a large database for my final thesis. Apart from this, I often applied this practical knowledge to develop and design thematic maps.

The knowledge gained during my internship encouraged me to enroll in a business project and I am hopeful for success.  No doubt, the ASPIRED internship was a great experience for a beginner to make  first steps in professional expertise. It was a great learning opportunity for a GIS analyst.”

At present, Nara is working at the Ijevan Branch of Yerevan State University, teaching information systems analysis using GIS.

“My vision on my career and future are linked to GIS analyses. It is hard to explain, but I love my job and I yearn to improve my skills further in this field.”