Virtual Training Camp Diaries: Avia Matossian

Hello from another 2020 Fellow here! My name is Avia Matossian and I am a recent graduate from the University of Michigan with a degree in mechanical engineering and concentrations in sustainable systems and front-end product design. A mouthful, I know. Given my unique background and wide-ranging interests, I wondered, “will I find the right community in VFA?”

After learning that Training Camp (TC) would be fully virtual, I initially felt a sense of loss. The amount of community-building and bonding that is such an integral part of TC had been something that I had eagerly looked forward to, and I wasn’t sure how experiencing it from the familiarity of my childhood bedroom in my parent’s house would compare.

This doubt began to melt away during Week 1. VFA’s Credos are a key part of the Fellowship experience, and Fellows have the opportunity to “give a Credo,” or share what a specific VFA Credo means to them, every day of TC. Upon hearing the first stories of vulnerability, passion, and drive that my fellow Fellows embodied, I began to get a better understanding of just how remarkable the 2020 Fellowship class really is. We truly are a diverse and impressive bunch, and it turns out that opening up and showing your authentic self to the world, even if only over Zoom, still makes for an extremely powerful, trust-building experience among our cohort. I have laughed, cried, and been on the edge of my seat during Credos, and feel an indescribably deep sense of connection to some of the personal stories that have been shared in the last three weeks.

This is all to say that my fellow Fellows were the ones who inspired me to share my own experiences last Thursday relating to VFA’s first Credo, “my career is a choice that indicates my values.” Upon finishing my story, I received a flood of support and love from my new VFA community. It was a powerful moment of reflection for me – I hadn’t been sure how successful community-building would be at TC, and here I was just two weeks later, feeling incredibly supported and connected with a group of stunning humans that I know have my back.

Given my lack of business background, there are definitely still moments of imposter syndrome that can creep up throughout TC as I learn more about entrepreneurship. But then I hear about Fellow-led events like a Bob Ross painting tutorial + wine social night that encourage me to continue growing within this network. The sense of community that I already feel with my Fellowship class, developed entirely over virtual Zoom coffee chats, memes, and more, is something for us all to be proud of. Here’s to making the most out of an incredibly unique TC experience!

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