The Youth Business Leadership Project Paves the Way for Students’ Careers

The panel from USAID, JAA and BP interviews an applicant student.
The panel from USAID, JAA and BP interviews an applicant student.
Elvin Mammadov, JAA

For Immediate Release

Thursday, July 25, 2013
USAID/Azerbaijan
(+994 12) 498-18-35

Unemployment remains one of the key issues for young people in Azerbaijan, particularly for young women. It is difficult for youth to find jobs or to start their own businesses after they finish their education. One of the main reasons for youth unemployment is the lack of experience, at the same time that employers are raising their entry requirements for new employees.

In order to empower the next generation of business leaders, in December 2012 USAID in partnership with British Petroleum and the American Chamber of Commerce in Azerbaijan (AmCham) launched a Youth Business Leadership project. The project provides 3rd and 4th year university students from Baku and Ganja with opportunities to gain real world employment experience through internships at various private companies, and to develop their business management knowledge beyond the classroom. The program also provides the interns with mentorship opportunities, linking successful businessmen and businesswomen who can offer guidance on career planning.

Junior Achievement Azerbaijan (JAA), implementer of the Youth Business Leadership project, selected the first group of 25 students from Azerbaijan State Economic University and Baku State University to provide them with the opportunity to practice work-readiness skills and explore career opportunities in the real work environment. Throughout February-April 2013, the students participated in the extensive internship program at Azerfon LLC, Seabak, Madad, Reform Centre, AECOM, Goldenpay, and FINCA. Instructed by their mentors – the staff members of the hosting companies – the students conducted self-assessments, explored the work of the companies’ departments, learned about staff responsibilities, and received instructions on employer expectations.

One of the interns from Azerbaijan State Economic University, Nijat Akhundov, was placed at Azerfon, a mobile telecommunications company. As intern Nijat assisted the sales analysis department and learned criteria of sales vision, how to define sales strategies and channels, to work with data, to explore fundamentals of analysis and analytical logic, and to prepare reports on multiple sales channels.

“I am so lucky to have this chance to intern at Azerfon as this experience is invaluable to me,” said Nijat upon graduating from the internship. After the internship program Nijat received a job offer from Azerfon to join its team as a Junior Analyst at the Sales Performance Analyzing Department.

Nijat’s mentor Toghrul Talibzadeh praised his skills and potential to “... further work at Azerfon due to his strong analytical thinking, and ability to meet the deadlines, being constructive in decision-making.”

Overall, the project will provide 120 students with internships in reputable companies identified by AmCham based on their compliance with international labor standards. The program will actively solicit participation from women to ensure that 60 percent of the internships go to support women.

Last updated: March 12, 2014

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