Tatyana Postnova Wants to Help Turkmenistan’s Youth Leverage the Power of Social Media
After graduating from secondary school, Tatyana Postnova, 34, started working to support her parents. She got married at the age of 24 and soon had a baby. Her focus was to be a good wife and mother. Determined to satisfy her thirst for knowledge though, she took up reading. She would read everyday. “I found it both relaxing and rewarding. Starting to write felt like a natural transition,” says Tatyana.
Her new life is a product of social media. She’s a successful self-employed copywriter and makes three times the national average in Turkmenistan.
Four years ago, Tatyana created an Instagram account, initially to follow celebrities. One day she took a chance and wrote a funny note about herself, hoping to compensate for her lack of formal education with a witty sense of humor. She was very surprised when she received positive feedback from others who found her story inspiring.
In 2019, Tatyana came across an Instagram advertisement by Arzuw News promoting the MediaStart program, a six-week program to introduce young Turkmens to the profession of journalism. MediaStart is an immersive initiative designed to inspire the next generation of professional journalists and writers in Turkmenistan, under the USAID-funded Enriching Youth for Tomorrow program.
USAID’s Enriching Youth for Tomorrow program trains Turkmenistani youth to prepare for the modern labor market to then in turn contribute to the local economy and their communities. To date, more than 3,000 young people from Turkmenistan have benefited from the program’s work-readiness skills development and internships.
“I was very excited when I learned that I was selected,” says Tatyana. Initially, she was nervous, “Everyone around me was so young. I was the oldest in the group. I was shocked to learn that my fellow participants, most in their 20s, already had their own startups and small businesses.”
Fortunately, on day one of the MediaStart program the trainers facilitated discussions, helping Tatyana feel more at ease with her peers. “Through debates and discussions we got to know each other, it felt great talking to everyone, I had something to say to these inspiring people. It made me feel less nervous,” recalls Tatyana.
She connected with all the participants, but Tatyana felt a special connection with two trainers who she is still in touch with today. Sergey Mirzoev, a famous photographer from Turkmenistan, and Inna Burova, editor of a local newspaper, Neutral Turkmenistan. “I felt energized by the way Sergey talked about photography and I took to heart Inna’s advice on how to overcome professional challenges,” says Tatyana.
She says her biggest takeaway from the MediaStart program was recognizing her own potential, “While speaking to the others I realized that we are all equal. We have the same opportunities that we can take to change our lives. It’s up to every individual to capitalize on them or not.”
Through the MediaStart program, Tatyana earned an internship with Arzuw News, an Ashgabat-based private online news agency, USAID’s Enriching Youth for Tomorrow program partner. “I was already a copywriter before my internship. But I now make double of what I made before participating in the MediaStart program. After I completed my internship with Arzuw News, I recognized my own worth and started to charge more for my services,” says Tatyana.
“It’s like a miracle! I don’t even have a bachelor’s degree. I used to be so insecure. I didn’t think I could do anything because I didn’t pursue a higher education. But thanks to the trainers [at MediaStart] and participants, I realized that it wasn’t about a specific degree; all of us have different educational backgrounds and each one of us can succeed,” says Tatyana.
Tatyana hopes to start a school to teach copywriting some day. “There’s no such school in Turkmenistan. Last summer, I offered a two-week online training on copyediting. To date, I’ve trained five groups of 25-30 members each.”
Since starting her online program last year, Tatyana has trained nearly 150 people on copywriting. “My advice to young people in Turkmenistan is to follow updates on USAID programs. USAID offers unique opportunities to gain new skills and knowledge for free. It can help you enter a new profession at any age,” says an optimistic Tatyana.
ABOUT THIS STORY
USAID Enriching Youth for Tomorrow program is implemented by JA Worldwide in Turkmenistan. The program cooperates with state, non-governmental, international, and business organizations to ensure sustainable and comprehensive achievement of its objectives.