GIS internships prepare urban studies alum for success

“Internships as a college student are absolutely essential, because you need to take the theories you learn in class and put them into practice.”

That is Narek Mkrtoumian’s advice to liberal arts students, and he would know. The urban studies alumnus (Class of 2015) took on multiple internships and research opportunities as a student, which together prepared him to land a great job in his field.

As a student, Mkrtoumian held urban planning internships for both the City of Burbank and the City of Glendale, opportunities that helped him apply GIS mapping and research skills in the real world. On campus, he worked as the GIS and Research Assistant for the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles, where he helped develop exit polls for California’s 2014 gubernatorial election. He also researched transportation access at the Center for the Study of LA, a project that he presented at LMU’s Undergraduate Research Symposium. Through his work at the Center for the Study of Los Angeles, he was introduced to Beacon Economics, an economics research consultancy that hired him after graduation.

Mkrtoumian now works as the Business Development Manager for Beacon Economics and is a Riordan Institute Fellow with the Southern California Leadership Network and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

“Primarily, urban studies has given me a strong fundamental understanding of how local and statewide government organizations function and how to collaborate with them from the private consulting and non-profit side of things,” he said. “I credit urban studies at LMU for making me an active member of my community and for making me a confident advocate on behalf of others in Los Angeles.”

Even though Mkrtoumian says his work can be dry at times, he doesn’t let that stop him from enjoying his career. At his job, he tries to learn something new every day, a value he says he learned at LMU.

“I think that love of knowledge and the ability to share that knowledge with others are skills uniquely tied to a liberal arts education at LMU,” he said.