Updated: Jan 24, 2022
Lincoln Zaleski & Tamar Barsamian
Washington, D.C. - Two bright and accomplished Armenian Assembly Internship Program Alumni, Tamar Barsamian and Lincoln Zaleski, headlined this week's Summer Speaker Series that focused on the field of media. Both Tamar, a Product Manager at POLITICO, and Lincoln, a Junior Program Manager at AidData, participated in the Assembly's flagship Terjenian-Thomas Assembly Internship Program in 2018. Lincoln, who studies media and its effects on the population, and Tamar who hones in on consumer interests in the media, spoke about what inspired them to embark on this career path and the importance of being persistent and sharpening certain skills key to this industry. "If you're interested in something, run after it," said Tamar, who admired POLITICO's mission early on and now is a member of the POLITICO Pro Product Team, a subscription service that provides professionals news, analysis, and online tools to track data in wide variety of policy areas. She also elaborated on the significance of managing different priorities, working with diverse personalities and highlighted that "research and communication skills are critical in media." Tamar's experience during her Assembly internship laid the groundwork for her career in Washington, D.C. As an Assembly intern, she worked at the Smithsonian and Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, which showcased an exhibition on Armenia and Armenian culture during her internship. Tamar also worked in the office of Senator Edward Markey (D-MA). "I was exposed to a lot, from arranging travel plans to putting briefs together, and having those experiences gave me the chance to work on my communication skills and make connections," she said. As a disinformation researcher, focusing on China and Russia through his work with AidData, a research lab at William & Mary's Global Research Institute that provides scholars and policymakers with data-based evidence, Lincoln noted that he refined his writing and research skills when first starting out in his career. "Take ownership of your interests and what fascinates you, write about them and get feedback," said Lincoln, who interned for Senator Markey and Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), and gained experience in election campaigning and writing news releases. "Find mentors you can meet with often and build connections." Exposure to the media, particularly during their time in the Assembly's internship program, was helpful to Tamar and Lincoln. "We met with powerful and influential decision makers in D.C., in addition to our internships and networking with Armenian Americans from all over the U.S.," said Tamar. "Having that kind of exposure at a young age is rare and gave us the chance to build on those opportunities." In terms of accessing balanced reporting in the media, Tamar and Lincoln recommended following news that is of interest, the importance of educating oneself, and having meaningful conversations with others, while also receiving information from multiple sources. Touching upon the role of media coverage in Armenia and the lack thereof during the Artsakh war, Lincoln pointed out that journalists tend to focus on "regional trends" and spoke about the value in "investing in Armenia's credibility as a fledgling democracy." "Having that continued investment, alongside a large and mobilized diaspora, will prove to the global community that we can be a liberal democracy that reports on the news objectively and can build up its own media," said Lincoln. Regarding the future of media, Tamar noted that the way people consume information has drastically changed over time and how needs have changed." "At POLITICO, we focus on policy professionals and how we can get information to them at their fingertips in the fastest way possible, with speed and accuracy," she said. Lincoln keyed in on personalization and globalization and "the way that news is consumed has become personalized to us through algorithms." "News targets us directly and part of that problem is that we may fall into echo chambers," he said. "Globalization, more so than ever before, allows us to know what's going on in all facets of society." Moderating the discussion was Assembly Communications Director Taleen Babayan. The Assembly's virtual Summer Speaker Series is free and open to the public. Its aim is to encourage college students to participate and interact with speakers to help shape their professional futures, while connecting with fellow Armenian Americans in the field. Register for this week's Armenian Assembly of America Internship Program Summer Speaker Series on Thursday, July 1, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time, that will feature Ani Toumajan, Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). She is the Senator’s primary advisor on public policy issues related to international trade, national security, and immigration. Ani previously worked as a policy staffer for U.S. Representative Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ). Before that, Ani was a Legislative Aide and Staff Assistant for Senator Stabenow. Ani spent her formative years in Michigan. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and her master’s degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. The Terjenian-Thomas Assembly Internship Program, which is taking place virtually this summer, provides college students of Armenian descent an opportunity to gain exposure to the policymaking process in our nation’s capital for eight weeks each summer. Since 1977, the Armenian Assembly of America has assisted over 1,200 participants in securing placements in prominent congressional offices, government agencies, media outlets, think tanks, and non-governmental organizations in Washington, D.C.
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.