Summer Inspiration – Armenian Internship

Being a student is an amazing opportunity to do fun things in your summer  with 3-4 months off every year! Many of our students go to different places over the summer to travel or work. It is also very common to work at the Fringe Festival – a massive arts festival held in the city.

If you are wondering about what to do this summer, I thought I’d share my last summer experience for inspiration. This summer I had the opportunity to experience an internship in Armenia. This internship program was organised by Armenia Volunteer Corps which paired me with a renewable energy company called Optimum Energy (for two days a week) and a waste management NGO called Innovative Solutions for Sustainable Development (for three days a week). Before this internship, I had little work experience nor had I put in much thought into my future career plans.  I love my degree but really struggle to pick a future occupation using it, so it was fun to try different things to see what I like.

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The Cascades area of Yerevan which was so pretty with views over the city – 15 minutes walk from my office.

Before arriving in Armenia, I flew into Tbilisi in Georgia and traveled around Georgia and Azerbaijan for two weeks with my older sister. From Tbilisi I took a night train to Baku – capital of Azerbaijan – and surrounding tourist attractions seeing mud volcanoes and cave carvings. My next stop was Sheki a small mountainous town in the North West of the country.

I then traveled back to Tbilisi in Georgia by bus, before making my way to the mountains. Once there I hiked to a glacier and explored the mountainous region. While travelling, I fell in love with Georgia and Azerbaijan, and with these countries beautiful scenery and amazing food. There are very cheap flights to Georgia at the moment so if you are interested then you should definitely visit!

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Mud volcanoes!!

Full of nerves and excitement I then caught a bus from Tbilisi to my new home for the next month – Yerevan the capital of Armenia. I was met at the bus station by my host family which I would be staying with. My host family were a young Armenian couple with a 5-year-old son that lived in an apartment on the outskirts of the city. The family were super friendly and made me feel at home very quickly. I was so lucky that my host family spoke English making my stay a lot easier but it wasn’t helpful for learning Armenian ahaha.

I traveled to work every day by metro or marshrutka (a small mini bus PACKED with people) and got around the city by foot. The renewable energy company wanted me to analyse data and research aspects of geology, topography, access, environment and the electricity grid access to plan a potential wind park in Armenia. I worked in a team with another volunteer who was an engineer from Chile and our supervisor a Syrian Armenian who was a renewable energy engineer. They went above and beyond to ensure that I had a great time working with them and that I had the full ‘Armenian Experience’ by trying different food and visiting many places. We also traveled to different solar energy sites to assess the safety and check up on different projects around the country. For someone who had considered being an environmental consultant this was the perfect opportunity to explore this job prospect.

While the waste management company asked me to make educational resources for adults and children to teach them how to recycle and be more sustainable. I was really surprised at how little was known about the benefits of recycling and the lack of recycling bins in Armenia. So I thought that helping promote recycling was extremely important for our futures.

Overall, I loved both of my work placements, all of my colleagues were lovely and they made me feel very welcome. Both of these placements were areas of work that I now could see myself doing as future careers. Being a ‘hardworking student’ I found it difficult at times to work to the relaxed work schedules and wanted to work above and beyond to be helpful.

Aside from my internship I got involved with activities ran by the corporation that I was volunteering with such as Armenian language classes, museum visits and even a Q&A session with the Ministry of Defense allowing me to meet with a diverse range of people. At the weekends there were also trips to tourist destinations through the Armenian Volunteer Corps, to places like Gyumri and Lake Sevan with other volunteers. While I also organised my own trips to places that interest me such as archaeological sites (Armenia is one of the oldest countries in the world) and to climb the southern peak of Mt Aragats(4,090m extinct volcano). By the end of my stay in Armenia I had made friends with some amazing people and was sad to be saying goodbye.

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At the top of Mt Aragats with the Armenian flag

I was lucky enough to get the internship funded by the Universities Go Abroad Fund which is a fund paid for by university alumni allowing for grants for different opportunities. The company that I also worked with offer placements from working at a dog home to research at a university there is a lot to be offered.

So if you are thinking about doing something different this year from working in a summer camp to a banking internship in America. I say do it! Summer is the best time to try something new and as it is only a few months then you really have nothing to loose.

Find the internships: https://armenianvolunteer.org/

Expect more stories of my adventures.

Emma.

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