It’s good that Katharina Klein has always been interested in other countries and cultures because part of her job involves dealing with University of Stuttgart alumnae and alumni from all over the world. The 27-year-old is responsible for the university’s “Alumni Management International” project at the Office of Alumni Relations. The aim of the project is to enhance international alumni cooperation as part of the Rectorate’s internationalization strategy. “We want to develop our contacts further and establish a global network of our graduates”, says Klein, who has started coordinating the project in May 2018 and will maintain it for a total of two years.
“We implement our international activities in places where the University of Stuttgart already has close ties, meaning at our partner universities.” For example, in September 2018 Klein took the concert held by the Academic Orchestra of the University of Stuttgart at Hanyang University in Seoul and the research day carried out by both universities as an opportunity to organize an alumni event there. In November, she traveled to the annual Shanghai-Stuttgart-Symposium, which is organized by the Forschungsinstitut für Kraftfahrwesen und Fahrzeugmotoren Stuttgart (Research Institute of Automotive Engineering and Vehicle Engines Stuttgart, or FKFS) in cooperation with the University of Stuttgart. Within the framework of the scientific symposium, she visited colleagues at Jiao Tong University and Tongji University alongside the Rector’s Senior Advisor International Affairs, Dr. Wolfgang Holtkamp, in order to initiate new approaches for international alumni cooperation.
Both events offered her a suitable framework for integrating local alumnae and alumni into the scientific program, making new contacts, and winning over former contacts to future commitment and networking with the university. “One of our aims as part of the internationalization strategy is working together with our international partner universities to increase involvement among local alumni as well as encouraging the formation of regional networks”, says Klein. The goal is to support scientific exchange and to stimulate cooperation.
So far, Klein is pleased with the way the project has developed. “I have been able to get a lot of things going and I’ve come to know some great dedicated people, who are happy to help us enhancing our international network of alumni.” However, it is the networking in particular which is often difficult in international alumni work because of the strict data protection guidelines in Europe.
Klein comes from the Backnang region and is an alumna of the University of Stuttgart. She has a master’s degree in English and spent four years as a student assistant. “Being alumni connects people emotionally. We want to use this emotional tie to their alma mater to engage them in international scientific exchange.” She herself has already experienced the strong common bond a university creates, “On a train from Frankfurt Airport to Stuttgart, there was an announcement in German saying that the train was not going to go any further. I translated it for some tourists standing nearby who’d just landed in Frankfurt and seemed not to understand. We started a little chat. Then it turned out that one of them had studied at the University of Stuttgart and was here for a visit. So I could even use a trip home as an opportunity for exchange. That was a nice experience.”
Application for the alumni network
The master’s graduate urges all students to sign up for the alumni network “alumnius”, so that they can stay in touch with their alma mater. http://www.alumni.uni-stuttgart.de/mitglied/index.html. If institutes or other university organizations know of any dedicated international students or scientific staff who will be returning to their home countries in the near future, or who have already returned, Klein is always happy to receive any information and contact details.