Successful returnees: Support programmes helping Germany-Alumni
Many alumni have had the same experience. No sooner have they unpacked their suitcases than they’re confronted by the big items on any returnee’s checklist: finding a place to live, re-enrolling at their local university, perhaps, or solving the puzzle of their next career move.
‘I decided to return because I was offered a job,’ says Puti Sarasvati from Bandung, Indonesia. The qualified teacher completed her degree at the University of Bristol and then worked as an assistant teacher in England. In her home country, she now coordinates education programmes with the teachers’ association Ikatan Guru Indonesia (IGI). ‘I jumped at the chance, as I’d always wanted to work with teachers and do something for their further education.’
Everyone benefits when a person returns successfully from abroad
Since her return, Puti has enjoyed a successful start in her dream job, and her colleagues at IGI are now benefiting from her experience. Clearly, the time spent living abroad is usually seen as a major boon by academic institutions and universities, and by either old or new employers in the home country. The professional and personal experiences the returnee gained in the host country, the know-how they acquired and the new contacts they bring with them – all represent a blast of fresh air and new ideas into their home environment.
To ensure these benefits can be sustained and reach as many people as possible in the long term, a range of support programmes exists for returnees which soften their landing back in their professional or academic lives, and help them share their new experiences and knowledge with others.
Support for returnees
Without the tempting offer from Indonesia, Puti would have stayed in England. After all, working conditions in her home country are far from optimal, especially for teachers. ‘The pay is bad,’ she says, ‘and a lot of teachers take a second job just to keep themselves going.’ But not everybody’s homecoming is as gentle as Puti’s was. Financial support is extremely important, especially for those who return without the prospect of a proper job.
There are many different aspects to the kind of follow-up contact and support offered to Germany-Alumni, ranging from a supply of magazines or book and equipment donations, to invitations to conferences in Germany or the resumption of a scholarship. This is how the organisation Deutsche Deutsche Kultur International helps former students and academics from abroad. It also promotes sector-based follow-up events and returnee associations in the respective countries of the Germany-Alumni.
Support programme for Germany-Alumni: from book donations to returnee grants
The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation also runs a range of support programmes for alumni when they come to the end of their time in Germany. Its offers to returnees are similarly diverse. Besides providing material assistance, the Foundation also supports long-term research cooperation arrangements with faculty colleagues in Germany or pays for returnee grants to facilitate reintegration in their home country.
In its Returning Experts Programme, the Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM) provides support and advice to managers and young professionals who have completed training in Germany, or spent time employed here, and who want to prepare to return to their home country.
When their scholarship with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) ends,
alumni from emerging and developing countries may apply for assistance to procure equipment and materials. At the same time, a specialist literature programme enables returnees once a year to order textbooks, periodicals and articles issued by German publishers in order to sustain their academic learning.
Returning with a double-strength safety net: the alumni network to break your fall
As well as financial, expert and organisational support, after the return from abroad it’s also important to maintain contact with like-minded people. ‘Getting together, exchanging your experiences, and not feeling you’re alone,’ as Puti says, summarising the desire to share with others. And that’s the reason why many returnees join an alumni association where they can also feel involved.
Of course, the Alumniportal Deutschland is the platform for all the information and contacts you need as a returnee from abroad. Alumni from around the world use it to exchange news and views, and to keep in touch with the organisations in their host country. Apart from that, the Jobs & Careers pages bring alumni into partnership with companies and organisations. This means the return to the home country isn’t just a challenge; it’s also an adventure with great prospects for success.
Activities in the community
What experiences have you had since your return from abroad? What should you do when it’s time to return to your career but you don’t yet have a job offer? Do you have any good suggestions for other returnees? Join in the discussion with us and other alumni in the Community: