Asmik Kostandian has been working as the first permanent employee at Alumni Göttingen for a year now. In the interview, our Network Manager and Association Developer tells how she experienced the first year and what news association members can look forward to in the coming months.

Asmik, how does it feel to be employed by Alumni Göttingen?
The work in the association is very varied and fulfilling. I identify with the goals of the association and have the feeling that I am doing meaningful work. With our small team, we implement many exciting projects and cooperate closely with the University.

And how was this year with regard to the pandemic, can you give us a peek behind the scenes?
Of course, the past year was exceptional. However, we learned a lot in the process. We suddenly realized how much information is transmitted spontaneously and informally, 'on the hop' when working together in one office. While in home office, we come together much more often for online meetings and implement many new work approaches in our everyday work.

Personal contact is paramount to the association. Did you manage to create a space for personal exchange even during the pandemic?
Exchange and encounter between alumni and other members of the University are the core of our work. It was immediately clear to us that we would create alternatives and, especially under these circumstances, we wanted to be there for our members. First, we intensified our newsletter communication. Then we switched to online events, a huge opportunity that we had not used enough before. Of course some activities fell by the wayside. Unfortunately, the regional groups were inactive all year round and there were no regional activities. We keep thinking about new formats, e.g. alumni walks or lunch breaks in the open air. We are always happy when alumni come to us with good ideas.

Which project of the past year are you particularly proud of?
Definitely our campaign Together #ZumWohleAller. With the pandemic, many students have lost their mini-jobs and other sources of funding. Thanks to the generous donations from our alumni, we were able to support many students financially with an unbelievable donation of over € 90,000.

We are also very proud of the virtual Alumni-Day. Thanks to the digital format, there were many new faces and international alumni among the participants. It is always impressive to see how much the alumni long for Göttingen and how much their studies mean to them. We received great feedback, one alumna said about the Alumni-Day: "This is by far the most entertaining Zoom meeting I've experienced - thanks to all of you!" That is why we want to hold our traditional Göttingen Alumni-Day hybrid in the future.

the topics are just as diverse as our alumni

Have you tried any other online formats for events?
Yes, we started the Alumni Göttingen Online series last year. With online lectures and workshops from this series, we show the unique expertise and experience which exists within our network. From corporate entertainment to music in ancient Egypt to blockchain – the topics are just as diverse as our alumni.

What role do the faculties play in the network?
The faculty networks (we used to call them sections) of our association play a central role in our work. Alumni from individual faculties can organize themselves in networks and design their own activities. Last year we had a breakthrough in building faculty networks. We created three new ones: medicine, law and forestry.

I am a social sciences alumna myself, how could I get involved in my faculty network?
In the first step you can visit the network's page on our portal. There you can find the current state of development for each network and the corresponding contact person. The SoWi network is under construction, so you can get involved in the initiator group and help shape the activities from scratch.

In your last interview you mentioned that the association was facing a lot of changes. What is the current status?
Last year we developed a new strategy for our alumni work. We will soon appear with a new image inspired by our values: connecting, inspiring and curious. Alumni Göttingen also got a motto: One campus. For a lifetime. We are excited to present the final results of our work this year.

With the membership you campaign for the association´s development, but also for the University and its students!

What exactly do these changes mean for the alumni?
Most of the changes affect our alumni, who currently have a profile on our portal but have not yet become a member of the association. Due to the division of tasks between the University and the association, in the future we will only be able to offer user profiles in conjunction with association membership. This means, that soon there will only be association members registered on the portal. We are very happy if as many of our alumni as possible decide to become members: With the membership you campaign for the association´s development, but also for the University and its students! You can read about the detailed changes in our FAQs.

In addition to building the alumni networks and developing strategies for the association, you have another focus. What is it about?
In cooperation with the degrees Euroculture, GLOCAL, North American Studies and the Law Faculty, we organize the Adam von Trott Ambassadors of Change program. To this end, we have successfully obtained funding for international alumni work from the DAAD. The application phase starts on March 1st and the event is scheduled for autumn 2021. We look forward to welcoming 25 international alumni from all over the world to this new training program online or here in Göttingen. The program is intended to promote the exchange of alumni who consider themselves change makers and who want to work together internationally on topics such as good governance, strengthening democracy and peacebuilding.

What can alumni look forward to in 2021?
Our new image and the fresh website, the new faculty networks, exciting online events and a Global Alumni-Day. We are also going to offer an expanded mentoring program.

Joséphine Pröhl conducted the interview for Alumni Göttingen.

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