Alumni Networks in Europe by #GatherReporter Senni

JA Europe has a substantial alumni network with 23 registered member nations. Gather Reporter Senni is excited to share two of these amazing alumni networks.

SWEDEN đź‡¸đź‡Ş

Emma Truvé, National Coordinator

How is your alumni board structured?

Our board is not structured like most other countries’ alumni boards, I think. We have 24 alumni regions in Sweden and every region has a regional board, so there isn’t a national board or anything. You could say that all of the regions have one person that’s more responsible (kind of like a chairman of the board) and those 24 people form a ”national board”.


What kind of events do you have?

We have lots of different events, both regional and national. One our national events was an a Alumni weekend — a two day event where around 80 alumni from all over Sweden meet for one weekend, similar to JAAC. Examples of regional events include Afterworks, "Alumni shark tank", Alumni Boost, Alumni Sit-down, Leader for a Day, Alumni Innovation Camp.


How do you keep board members motivated?

We keep our board members motivated by giving them a lot of responsibility and freedom to explore what they find most interesting. We also try to give them the opportunity to join in on different events and happenings that the regional JA offices put on so they can meet company representatives and grow their networks.

I think another important thing to keep them motivated is to understand why they are on the board and what they want to get out of their engagement. When the regions start up their new boards in August or September, they always have an intro meeting where they discuss these kinds of questions.


ALBANIA đź‡¦đź‡±

Brunilda Tusha, Social Media Manager

How is your alumni board structured?

The head of our board is the president. He or She oversees the Communications Team, the Growth Team, and the Events Team. The Communications Team includes two social media managers, one video producer, and graphic designer. A coordinator and an event coordinator lead the Events Team. The Growth Team consists of a growth manager and a database manager. Each of the alumni chosen to be part of the board has a one-year mandate, and new elections are held in September. We have close collaboration with the JA Albania team, with whom we run different projects. At the same time, we support their annual programs with alumni mentors for the JA Company Program or serving like judges and trainers for the Debating Economics program.


What kind of events do you host?

We tend to organize a variety of events to keep up with the latest of what is happening around us and to always live up to the JA alumni spirit. We host Expert CoffeeTalks, International Trade Games (which brings together around 50 alumni to learn the rules and basics of international trading), Hotspot Alumni (an event we designed to simulate the JA Albania board while executing team-building games), seminars about -hot- topics in the economy and entrepreneurship, and three-day training events called ”Mentoring Like Spartans” about mentorship followed up with one-day training courses focusing on different issues around being a good mentor.

In addition to these guiding and forming events, we also organize social activities like Alumni Hiking Day, the Alumni Voice (a Karaoke event), Christmas parties, and one-day road-trips to castle cities in Albania.

During quarantine, we continued our monthly meetings online and kept the alumni spirit going even through this overwhelming situation for everyone. Our events are all featured on Instagram.


How do you keep board members motivated?

The board members have become great teammates who have made our job more comfortable, -and it has not been that hard to keep the motivation up. We organize team-building events to stay on top of the game, and we get together as friends at least once a month for dinner, bowling, coffee, or a late-night basketball game. All of us are passionate about being JA members and having the opportunity to create chances in entrepreneurship for youth in Albania.


What practices work with your network that might be helpful to others as well?

We believe one crucial element of our success is the close relationship we have with our network members. Other practices have kept us active, very close to the latest, and have helped us create a fresh, fun, challenging, and engaging network.

Hotspot Alumni is an annual event that we host to senior alumni and new members of our network with the purpose of stimulating our board. With this event, we aim to generate new ideas for projects and themes for our upcoming events and activities. This helps board members feel part of the group and remain involved in the development of our yearly plan and agenda.

Over the last two years, we have created and implemented a program called ”Mentoring Like Spartans”, which grows each year. This program came from the idea that alumni would be a able to help JA students because they were closer to the JA Company Program. With trusted partners on board, we created it to be more accessible, innovative, and effective ways to help high school students be successful in the Company Program and beyond. Alumni can apply to be part of a three-day training course on mentoring skills, the relationship between mentor and mentee, and they graduate as mentors of the program. They follow from up close school companies in different corners of Albania and mentor them on development of their idea, the business plan, sales, and their final presentation at the national Company of the Year competition. Our numbers and interviews have shown that mentorships with JA alumni was more helpful and comfortable for high school students. That is why we have listed this program as a success in our network.


What is unique about the Albanian network?

We, Albanians, like to add a little bit of our traditional spirit everywhere we go and in everything we do. The alumni network is no exception!

We support Albania based businesses and always try to choose local partners for our events. Being a relatively small country, we like to host our activities not only in Tirana where our center is located, but also in historical and monumental sites around Albania.

We have found a balance in combining tradition with the latest methods in entrepreneurship. By doing so, we want to create a generation of entrepreneurs whose styles are in line with what their environment offers while helping them succeed in a fast-paced world.

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