Volunteering leeds to employment
Good afternoon, welcome in this week’s inbox7 interview.
Today with us we have a guest from Armenia, Nensi Mkrtchyan
Hi Nensi. Can you present yourself, tell us where do you come from, what do you study, which organization are you part of?
Mkrtchyan: Of course, thank you very much for inviting us to this very nice interview. I’m Nensi Mkrtchyan from Armenia, its typical Armenian’s surname. I’m a student of third year at French University in Armenia, I’m studying marketing and business. I’m having my own start up in Armenia it’s been two months with my great colleagues and friends, it’s about volunteering and we have started this start up to revolutionize the volunteering system in Armenia. So we’re focused and based in Armenia but we have come here to present our project and maybe win. Because it’s a city of Mother Teresa and we have found a lot of very beautiful places and venues, sightseeing’s and we are amazed with this city.
So as you said that main reason that you are in North Macedonia is volunteering. Can you tell us why volunteering is such a big thing in your country?
Mkrtchyan: Sure, maybe I will start from my own experience. It’s been five or six years, I’ve dedicated myself to volunteering and yes it is (a big thing), because starting from my college years It’s not being a mandatory thing but we have been like teaching into more non formal education, the importance of non formal education more than typical formal education. But when we understood the importance of that, we started volunteering, going to events, experiences and me and my friends have been always participating in events where we could learn a lot of things, a lot of skills, a lot of experience and of course you get a lot of things from that starting from certificates to making friends, making community and making a change, the most important thing. And yeah every second or third person without any exaggerations, whenever you ask person on the streets they are doing volunteering, like me and my friend. This is like wide spread in Armenia. In some cases they are doing for getting certificate and this is what we actually want to change because it’s being a bad habit, you know to be doing volunteering for certificate it’s not what it’s intended to be. But we don’t blame volunteers, not at all and this is maybe what universities and job places, positions, companies have required from them.
So is it easier to find job if you are having a volunteering experience?
Mkrtchyan: It is from my own experience. Because we have been working in not companies but organizations for volunteering bases and once, twice you are going there, the organizers, HR managers, marketing specials from my own experience I would say they see you your activeness, your readiness to do everything and one day they just invite you for working for a position and of course I have met a lot of cases when they just invite me for a full time position and when you are students is very hard to combine studies and work together, that’s why from time to time, from many time I would say I just reject those opportunities because in Armenia the education system is very strict and we do have this very top to have full degree but not only bachelors also master degree, now I’m doing my bachelors actually I’m third year and we are having four years of bachelors and its mandatory if you do not have a diploma it’s a shame for your family, for your community, for getting a job actually. But the diploma itself doesn’t give anything because the employers nowadays they look more to your skills they put in importance to your personality not your diploma, because if you do not know English, other languages as Russian, French, Spanish, because the Armenians know these languages.
You said that you are a founder of a start up. Can you tell us what is it about and also about the organization how do you become part of it what is its purpose and also do you have to be part of some organizations to do volunteering?
Mkrtchyan: It’s been two months we have established the launch of our start up, we call it a start up because being a start up in Armenia now we are developing It technology fields in our country and we are having a lot of incubators now we do have a lot of chances to grow in terms of financial support, office support any kind of mentorship support from incubators. Even universities have their own incubators and they can host startups for, I don’t know for concrete dates but up to few months and some weeks and you can have your own office, space to work and assistance, mentorship to grow your own business. Yes volunteem is about connecting volunteers and NGO (nongovernmental, nonprofit organizations) we have been focusing on volunteers mainly because we have had an assumption that volunteers are searching for volunteering opportunities and it takes a lot of time for them but after coming here after interviewing some people and volunteerings here and organizations mainly (I’ll talk about it lately on), we have found out that it’s not the way that we have been thinking actually it takes up to a day to apply and to get a reply for volunteering experience opportunity. In Armenia everyone knows everyone, every volunteer knows every organization so there is no need to connect them but there is a need for some college students who haven’t done any volunteering, so we want to focus more on those people, those volunteers and enthusiast. Than another purpose of our activity is to connect companies and NGOs, because as long as we have been doing research in this field, companies, nonprofits are doing the same thing in terms of environment , they are going and cleaning some places and they are increasing corporate social responsibility for them but they are doing it separately, we want to merge their activities to make the impact bigger, huge and we and to establish the culture of cooperating and that what is unique in our start up. Because start up needs to be unique needs to have a new thing, you do not need to invent a new wheel.
And about organizations, coming back to your question, when I was 15 years old, I found a very good big nongovernmental organization in Armenia is called organization of the youth club in Armenia, is the biggest, the oldest one, established in Armenia. I went to one of their events and became a member. Nothing was required from me, I met very good friends there, volunteers from abroad.
What is like to be а volunteer in Armenia in comparison with volunteering here in Macedonia?
Mkrtchyan: I will say for sure that there is a lack for volunteering atmosphere or motivation here as long as we have met few people, very few people who interested in, like this office, we have phoned and contacted more than twenty organizations as companies and the best one have replied us and we are very glad to be here. It’s the least that you do have but my assumption about volunteerism in Macedonia maybe I expected more to see. We phoned very good organization called VCS (Volunteering Center Skopje), they helped us a lot really, I felt like I was home, I felt like in the first organization that I have been volunteering in Armenia, because they were having a lot of volunteers, they are coming from abroad from different countries. And we have interviewed mainly international volunteers. I wanted to know much more from local volunteers, Macedonian volunteers. This is in comparison between Armenia and Macedonia, the active youth live in Macedonia is a bit lax, that’s what we have seen. But our message is connected with some assumptions about NGOs, because they believe that NGOs are doing some bad things, or they are corrupted, money laundries. Few years ago it was the same in Armenia, we were having around 300 or even more NGOs in Armenia and they were focused not only on youth, but also corruption, women rights, everything, but no one was believing in them because they didn’t have any reports, transparency, how were they working and no one knew about them, no one knew that this kind of organizations exist. And these days, I don’t want to go deep into politics but a year ago we have had a Velvet Revolution in Armenia and we have changed totally starting from ourselves to parliaments to political situations, to vice-president and president. We have chosen one journalist from republic square, because 20.000 people from republic square decided to make a step and to be the change. I’m talking to emotional but a year ago no one believed in that, because we wanted some changes.
When you mentioned corruption, is the government raising corruption awareness?
Mkrtchyan: I feel that campaigns, some decisions, some attitudes toward tax system towards corruption have been changed of course. You cannot be hired with money, you cannot go to the University and get a diploma with money, nowadays there are some cases of course, you cannot get rid of them in one year, it takes a lot of time, you need to be patient, but our not grandmothers but parents, mothers, fathers they want the change to become very quick but people like me they are ready to wait, ready to wait for a change. State universities are the most corrupted ones, my University is a private one and I agreed to pay much to get quality education and no one was tackling how education system was going on, but how students are getting a diploma, because everyone was getting a diploma with money but my University doesn’t do so. Students now are free to choose universities.
Okay and for the end, what is your message for the people here in North Macedonia especially to the students, why should they start volunteering and why is that important?
Mkrtchyan: My message to you is to be brave not to be afraid of taking risks taking steps, because is a life changing experience not only volunteering, just a step, to make a step in your family, just .. I don’t know what made me do volunteering, especially at that time but now it’s my passion. Every time they are asking, my friends are asking me to do a CV Is a volunteering for me even that, because I don’t get any certificate for that. It’s just a will to be good person, to change your attitude towards people, just maybe I’m kindhearted person I don’t know, but you need to love people a lot and feel motivated every time because there are to many opportunities. I know the economics system crises in here because it’s the same in Armenia, and as students we need to earn money for our own expenses not to be addicted to our parents and I don’t say that I haven’t, I have worked in many places for money but firstly I was focused on my personal development. If people think so they would do volunteering more. They would say I have done volunteering for this amount of time and then I have worked. Work is a good thing I’m not saying is not but volunteering is just for you, to make you pleased not your employer pleased. That’s it.