Finally, something for international alumni

When RUG students graduate, they often feel isolated and struggle to find work. The Young Alumni Network wants to help alumni connect. But international alumni haven’t always felt welcome.
text By Andriana Boyrikova / photo by the young alumni network

The RUG launched The Young Alumni Network in 2016. Membership is technically open to any alumnus 35 or younger. The network hosts regular activities, classes, and events to help alumni meet each other and build professional networks – but they are all in Dutch. International alumni who don’t speak Dutch find they are on their own.

For the first time in a year, the network will host an English workshop. On April 30, RUG alumnus Tania Tasheva will share her professional experience as Change and Communication Lead at the Heineken corporation and will lead participants in practical career exercises.

Tickets for the workshop sold out immediately: ‘People kept signing up! At some point we had to close enrolment, because otherwise it wouldn’t be a workshop’, says Elise Kamphuis, project manager of alumni relations and fundraising.

A better network

Until recently, organisers did not realise the importance of hosting events in English, says Elisa Ahovuori-Motta, junior project leader of international alumni relations. But she expects things to change under new leadership. ‘There is no reason for these workshops not to be in English’, she says.

Kamphuis agrees – Dutch alumni have a high command of English, so why not do more in English to include international alumni as well? ‘The added value of a network increases when the diversity is bigger.’

The networks is planning more activities to bring Dutch and English alumni together, including a ‘Coach café’. ‘We did a pilot in January, which was in Dutch,’ says Kamphius, ‘but the next one will be in English.’

The Young Alumni Network knows of roughly 2,000 international alumni under 35 living in Groningen, Friesland, or Drenthe. Kamphuis wants to see them thrive. ‘They are very important to the economy; they stimulate innovation and diversity. They also help companies in the north internationalise.’

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