LU Alumni around the world: Batumi, Georgia

Davit Mikeladze at the officeThis week, we meet Davit Mikeladze from Batumi, Georgia. He participated in the Summer Academy for Young Professionals (SAYP) on Perspectives of Multi-level Governance, Decentralisation & Human Rights in 2017. Learn more about how his participation in this programme organised by Lund University Commissioned Education, Lund University School of Economics and Management, and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute enhanced his career, as well as his involvement in the Sweden Alumni Network Georgia.

Q: You participated in the Summer Academy for Young Professionals (SAYP) on Perspectives of Multi-level Governance, Decentralisation & Human Rights in 2017. Was this programme additional training in your existing job? Or what was your motivation for participating in Lund University’s Commissioned Education?

In 2013-2014 I was Local Government Component Head of the USAID-funded Good Governance in Georgia (G3) Program. In this role, I took an active part in providing technical assistance to the Government of Georgia in designing and implementing local government reform in the country. This job corresponded fully to my personal and professional passions, too, as I believe that decentralization and empowering citizens on a local level creates the cornerstone of democratic and economic development in any country.

Since joining BP in 2014 as a Community Liaison Officer, I still follow the ongoing local government reform and analyze new challenges and opportunities associated with this process. Learning about best practices from abroad and whether they can be adapted to my country, motivated me to attend various conferences and training courses dedicated to the topic of decentralization and local government organization. Among those were the John Smith Trust fellowship program in Edinburgh and London, UK in 2014, and the Winter School on Multi-Level Governance held in Innsbruck, Austria and Bolzano, Italy in 2015. Hence, for me, it was a logical continuation in my learning process when applying for the thematic module on Perspectives of Multi-level Governance, Decentralisation & Human Rights held at Lund University in 2017 in the framework of the Summer Academy for Young Professionals (SAYP).

SAYP participants

Georgian participants of SAYP

I must admit that the SAYP experience was a truly enriching one and I was really impressed with excellent quality of lectures delivered, as well as the carefully selected visits to the regional and municipal authorities in Lund and Malmö to see, in practice, multi-level governance and decentralization examples in the Skåne region. As an extra bonus of participating in the SAYP module in Lund, I met a world-known Georgian scientist, Zaal Kokaia, professor of Neurology and Research Team Manager at Stem Cell Center at Lund University. I will never forget his inspiring speech.

Meeting with Zaal Kokaia, Director of Lund Stem Cell Center

Meeting with Zaal Kokaia, professor of Neurology and Research Team Manager at Stem Cell Center at Lund University

Q: You are currently a Community Liaison Officer (Environment & Social Team) at BP. Has your Lund University education been beneficial in your work? In what ways?

The knowledge I gained through comprehensive lectures and seeing how things work in practice, in terms of human rights and implementation of social policies, proved to be valuable for my work as I focus on following the social commitments and respecting rights of local communities.

Q: What does a typical day at the office look like?

My typical day does not only include being at the office, but rather I am often out in the field where construction activities take place. Together with my colleagues, I regularly meet with local communities adjacent to our construction sites. With active consultations and stakeholder engagement, we ensure that local residents are informed about the planned works, their rights are protected, their voices are heard and they have all the information regarding potential benefits associated to our presence in the area, which can create local employment opportunities or support community development initiatives, like financing small businesses and local infrastructure rehabilitation projects.

In the field

In the field

Q: This past spring you visited Stockholm for the Swedish Institute Alumni Leaders Meeting with alumni who have studied in Sweden, from all around the world. We are keen to hear about your experience. What was your biggest takeaway from the meeting?

It was very inspiring to hear about various valuable activities that alumni of Swedish universities are doing back in their home countries. It was also emotional to see and feel that, irrespective of different origins, diverse interests and activities, one thing that unites the thousands of us alumni around the world is Sweden and the great values that we learned in this country, such as respect for human rights and diversity, protecting the environment and supporting the global implementation of the sustainable development goals.

Alumni Leaders meeting in Stockholm

Participants of the Alumni Leaders Meeting in Stockholm

Q: Have you hosted events in your home region? What’s coming up on the calendar for the Sweden Alumni Network Georgia?

Sweden Alumni Network Georgia was named the Alumni Network of the Year 2018 by the Swedish Institute. This was a great acknowledgment of all the active and hard work that our network put together last year. Among various implemented projects, I would like to highlight the awareness-raising campaign on road safety and the negative impact of plastic waste. Both these campaigns were implemented nationwide, targeting schoolchildren with specially tailored information sessions and the broader public with an animated video clip that aired on the National Broadcaster and regional TV networks. Project on Water Resources Management in Georgia became one of the winners of the global competition among alumni, and together with my fellow alumna I was invited by the Swedish Institute to attend the Nobel Week Dialogue: Water Matters Conference in Stockholm in December 2018.

Clean Up Day

Clean Up Day

I must note that Embassy of Sweden in Tbilisi, its staff and the Ambassador are great supporters of our alumni network. They have supported us from the very beginning and take an active part in almost every activity we implement. Moreover, alumni leaders are kindly invited to events organized by the Embassy or during official visits of members of the Swedish Government to Georgia.

 Swedish ambassador promoting road safety

Davit (left) promoting road safety with Swedish Ambassador Ulrik Tideström (middle) and Chairman of the Board of Sweden Alumni Network Georgia, Goga Kikilashvili (right).

This year, the biggest event coming up on the calendar will be hosting a VISBY regional alumni leaders forum. Leaders of the alumni networks in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan will visit Georgia in order to share their unique experiences, learn from each other and draw up new ideas for developing cross-regional partnership projects among our national alumni networks. We are very much excited to host this forum for the 1st time and we feel grateful to the Swedish Institute for supporting this initiative.

 

Photos provided by Davit Mikeladze.

LU Alumni around the World 0

Happy 4th of July

To all our alumni from the US or in the US – Happy 4th of July

Wishing you all a wonderful day of red, white and blue celebrations.

 

Updates 0

5 things you (maybe) didn’t know about Midsummer

Swedish Midsummer
Photo: Per Bifrost /imagebank.sweden.se

Text: Patrik Sandgren, archivist at the Folklife Archives with the Scania Music Collections, Lund University

1. Collect midsummer dew during the night to transfer strength

There are old descriptions of how to “draw midsummer dew”. The dew that was collected during the night was taken, for example, from someone else’s land to transfer the strength of the other person’s animals to their own. The dew was also used for other purposes. In Tving in Blekinge, it was used as an ingredient in sourdough.

2. Protect yourself against the evil eye by boiling, among other things, the bones of the dead and nine wishes written in stolen ink

To protect yourself against “the evil eye” it was possible, according to an old recipe from Småland, to use seven different kinds of flowers picked on Midsummer night, boiled together with coal from an accidental fire, nine wishes written with stolen ink, tallow from Christmas church candles as well as bones of the dead.

3. Sweden’s largest midsummer maypole is 25 metres high and weighs 400 kg

Sweden’s largest midsummer maypole is said to be in Leksand, measuring 25 metres and weighing 400 kg. The raising of the maypole is usually witnessed by tens of thousands of people. Many are visitors from the neighbouring municipality of Rättvik, which has led to other residents of Rättvik wanting to raise an even larger midsummer maypole (than the one in Leksand).

4. Consult with a cow or pig on what is to come

There have evidently been early beliefs about animals being able to talk on Midsummer night. In Bäckaby in Småland, people would sneak into a suitable barn and lie down to listen to the animals, which were also clairvoyant. What the animals said was what would happen during the remainder of the year.

5. Surprise! These days you do not need to pick your seven wild flowers to find your future spouse

To sleep with seven different flowers under your pillow on Midsummer night is a well-known trick to finding your future spouse. This folk belief is even used in current advertising. At blomsterlandet.se there is an offer of seven different kinds of flowers considered to be associated with midsummer, daisies, flowering tobacco, dahlias, lavender, million bells flowers, twinspurs and lobelias.

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LU Alumni around the world: Helsinki

This week we meet Jenna Emtö, alumna from the bachelor’s programme in Political Science, class of 2013, sharing her story as a freelance journalist and master student in Helsinki.

Today Jenna lives and works as a freelance journalist in Helsinki

Q: You have studied a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, as well as courses in Economics, Social Geography and French. How do you think your education has impacted your career so far?

I currently work as a freelance journalist while finishing my master’s degree in Political Science. After graduating I lived in Stockholm for a while, before I moved back to Helsinki. In Helsinki, I have had various jobs, such as working within university administration and writing for a local newspaper. I think my education gave me good analytical skills that have helped me in all my professions and it also gave me a broad understanding of politics and society, which has been beneficial for me.

Q: During your studies at Lund University, you have been engaged as an international mentor. Do you think being an international mentor has been beneficial for you?

I think being an international mentor inspired me to study abroad as it made me realise how many universities Lund actually has exchange agreements with. Hence, I spent my third year studying abroad, which as cliché as it may sound was one of the better experiences of my bachelor studies. The experience of being an international mentor also gave me friends and acquaintances around the world.

Jenna Emtö Exchange studies football game

“A friend and me when I was on exchange studies in UC Berkeley, California”

Q: You have also worked as the international mentor coordinator. Did that role give you additional skills that have been beneficial in your career?

One of the most memorable things about that job was working during the hectic, but exciting, Arrival Day. I think it probably made me learn to deal with stress and pressure in an entirely different way and also taught me how I am as a leader. The experiences of the job were definitely also beneficial when I worked at another university, as I had valuable experiences to share with my colleagues.

“Information fair for exchange studies when I studied at Lund University”

Q: We assume you made many contacts during your active involvement in the student life. Have these networking skills helped out in life after university?

While at Lund I met tons of people and also got a lot of friends – some I keep in touch with, while I have lost touch with many. The thing about Lund is that people spread out around the world afterwards, so it takes some effort to keep contact with everyone – but the positive thing is that the people I met there have turned up later in life, in various contexts, since the world is a lot smaller than one might think.

“I am born in Helsinki and I have been back here for almost four years now. This picture is one of my favorite streets in Helsinki called Fredrikinkatu.”

Q: If you could go back in time to when you first started your studies at Lund University, what are the top three tips you would tell yourself?

This one is a tough one to answer, but maybe I would tell myself to be more out-going, in the sense that I should have realised that I could ask for more help from classmates or teachers. It could have also been nice to hear that grades are not everything. It is more important to just get the work done and try to avoid procrastinating too much. Lastly, I would remind myself that it is okay to feel lost and alone at times, especially during the first few semesters.

Inspiring alumni/LU Alumni around the World/Q&A with alumni 0

Lärosäten Syd Alumni Networking in Brussels

On Tuesday 21 May, alumni from Lund University, as well as 5 other universities from southern Sweden gathered at Nordic House in Brussels for an alumni networking reception. This was a great opportunity to meet alumni in the area and it was the first time we have collaborated on an alumni event for members of Lärosäten Syd.

The objectives of Lärosäten Syd’s Brussels office, which opened in August 2018, are to help to raise the profiles of our excellent researchers and to engage in discussions on policy and programme developments. We are in Brussels because we want to make a positive contribution to the shaping of the missions and the challenge-driven European research and education agenda. And universities have a great deal to contribute with here.

As a university network, we realise the importance of engaging through networks in the European capital. We therefore hope that the bringing together of this alumni network will be as beneficial for alumni’s personal networking, as it will be for us in reaching out to the impressive pool of talent from our universities that have made a career in Brussels.

We are impressed to see the width of organisations where alumni from the universities in south Sweden are currently working. Among those who attended the event were alumni from all six universities, from diverse organisations including several DGs in the European Commission, the European Parliament, two permanent representations, a handful of regional offices, Brussels media, law firms, trade associations, educational and green NGOs, universities, and a brewery!

With many international guests, as well as Swedish guests, this event lended itself as a great networking opportunity for alumni! With the postive feedback we’ve received, we hope to host another event in Brussels in the future! Stay tuned. 🙂 

Goodies for our alumni!

 

Logos Lärosäten Syd universities

Alumni Events/Updates 0

Alumni panel share their experiences on finding a job in Sweden

What do some of our former international students have to say about their job hunt?

On Wednesday 8 May, a panel of four alumni shared their experiences of how they landed a job in Sweden. Current international Masters students had the chance to listen in and hear first-hand about life after studies, while getting some useful tips for the job hunt. Whether it was submitting over 200 job applications or utilising their network, we got the inside scoop from these alumni.

Panel members included Allisa Lindo, Angel Nikolov, Markéta Urbanová and Sarthak Das.

Allisa Lindo is an alumna from the master’s degree programme in Media and Communication Studies, class of 2017. Today, Allisa works as a Growth Marketing Manager at Brandox in the Malmö start-up scene.

Angel Nikolov is an alumnus from the master’s degree programme in Management at the School of Economics and Management, class of 2017. Today, Angel as a Sales Development Representative, reaching out to new potential clients, at Web Manuals in Malmö. He is also board member of the Web Manuals Foundation whose focus is girls’ education and women entrepreneurship in developing countries.

Markéta Urbanová has two degrees from Lund University and is an alumna from the master’s degree programme in Globalisation, Brands and Consumption (2016) and the master’s degree programme in Asian Studies (2018). She started her career in Sweden as a Search Marketer at Sony Mobile Communications. Last year she moved on to try her wings in Denmark and works today as a Digital Marketer at DFDS.

Sarthak Das finished his studies from the Wireless Communications master’s degree programme at the Faculty of Engineering (LTH) in 2016. After a year in Gothenburg, Sarthak is back in Skåne working as a Developer at Ericsson.

Top tips and words of wisdom from the panel:

  1. Book an “informational fika” (a.k.a. informational interview). This is a great way to network and reconnect with your contacts, who could be helpful in the job search. It is also a chance to present your qualifications, leave a good impression and present them with the opportunity to help.

  2. When applying for a job, create a map that tells a story of your experience and what you can do, in relation to the job description. Mapping out your skills and experiences based on the job description can help you better construct your cover letter and CV so it stands out to the employer.

  3. It is good to have a strategy/plan for finding a job, but often times you need to modify it. Be open to that possibility.

  4. Reach out to interesting companies, even if they don’t have any postings. Or, even if you are not a fit for the posted position, reach out and see if there is a potential position that is similar and/or suitable for you. Sometimes it leads to getting hired, or possibly an internship. Worst case, they simply say no.

  5. Don’t be scared if you can’t speak Swedish. However, the openness to learn the language is a desirable trait. All panel members got a job without being fluent in Swedish.

  6. Everyone you know is your network and everyone in your network has a network. That’s lots you can tap in to!

    Here are a few tips for networking:
    • Attend meetups and events
    • Utilise informational interviews/fika
    • Write LinkedIn messages to enhance and expand your network
    • Check out InterNations.org
    • Remember that networking is not only about getting something from others; always present what you can bring to the table

  7. If you get rejected, ask for feedback. This can help improve your approach in other job applications.

  8. Our brain is limited to what we know and/or have experienced – so how do we know what our “dream job” really is? Don’t get too locked in on your “dream job” vision.

  9. Don’t be deterred if you don’t match 100% of the job description. If you are interested or bring something to the position, apply! Think of the job description as the employer’s wish list.

  10. Reach out to the HR staff during the application process so you’re in their mind when they review your application. (Note: There is a fine line between pushy/needy and genuinely enthusiastic. Keep it professional and contact companies only with relevant questions.)

Bonus tip for engineering students: ARKAD job fair is a good place to meet companies and potential employers!

Lastly, one of the attendees asked our panel, did you panic while waiting to hear back from the companies you applied to? If so, how did you handle that panic? Great question, and yes, they panicked. Our alumni advised that the best way to handle the feeling of panic is to accept that things are not always going to end the way you think…however, it can still be a successful ending. Remember that all job hunters are in the same situation. It is easiest to give up, but don’t do that!

Thank you, once again, to our panel of alumni! Your honest stories and experiences have inspired us all!

Alumni Events/Career advice/Inspiring alumni/Updates 4

8 quick questions with the celebrated author…

… of Lund crime novel A Nearly Normal Family.

Alumnus Mattias Edvardsson’s A Nearly Normal Family is a gripping thriller about how far one would go to protect loved ones. In this twisted narrative of love and murder in Lund, a horrific crime leads a seemingly normal family to question everything they thought they knew about their life―and one another.

head shot Mattias Edvardsson and book front cover

Hello author and alumnus Mattias Edvardsson! When did you study at Lund University?

– I studied literature, Swedish and psychology between 1996-2000.

Your book A Nearly Normal Family (En helt vanlig familj) has been sold in over 30 countries and has gained a lot of positive attention since the release. What is the secret ingredient in this book that makes it so thrilling?

– I don’t think there is a secret ingredient, but based on what I’ve been told by publishers and readers around the world, it’s easy to identify with the characters. In other words, the reader contemplates “it could have been me”. In addition, the moral dilemma in the book is universal – How far would you go to protect your children?

Many authors don’t use their actual hometowns as the setting for their books, why did you?

– On one hand it has to do with pure laziness. It’s very convenient when you have the places you write about just around the corner. And then of course, I love Lund. It’s a wonderful town and if I can contribute to spreading the word about it, then it’s my pleasure to do so.

What is your writing process?

– I start off by creating characters that I can relate to and then I put them in a bad emotional place or in a difficult situation, which they have to handle. From there, I just start writing. I often rewrite my text many times. Over time, you get to know your characters better and come up with new ideas. 

Two of your main characters in this book is a priest and another a teenage girl/young woman – how do you relate to them and how did you find their voices when creating their characters?

– I often think of it as acting. I take on the role of the character and let her/him speak in my head. It´s not easy to describe. But to create a realistic character I think I have to put some parts of myself, my feelings or thoughts, in it. Human beings tend to have very much in common, regardless if we are 18 or 40, a priest or a construction worker, woman or man.

A part from being an author, you also work as a teacher; but did you always know you wanted to write books?

– I have dreamt about becoming a writer since I was five or six years old and I have written since then. I have previously published novels and books for children and young adults, but A Nearly Normal Family gave me a big breakthrough in Sweden and internationally.

There are rumors that this book will be made into a Hollywood film. What can you say about that?

– The rights are sold and a producer and director are involved, but it’s a long process and I am not really allowed to tell anyone. Oops.

What are you reading yourself this summer?

– I just finished Celeste Ng’s fantastic novel Little Fires Everywhere. Now I’m looking forward to my Norwegian colleague Geir Tangen’s new crime novel Heartbreaker.

 

Text: Helga Heun
Photo: Caroline Ann Andersson

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Visiting alumni in Tbilisi

The guest blogger for this post is James Rhys Davies, Geology alumnus, international marketing and recruitment assistant at LU and active member of the Association of Foreign Affairs in Lund (UPF), who organised a student and alumni event during a UPF-visit in Tbilisi, Georgia.

UPF visiting students and alumni in Tbilisi

UPF visiting students and alumni in Tbilisi

Last month the Association of Foreign Affairs (UPF) in Lund visited Tbilisi, Georgia and had the opportunity to meet with Lund students new and old. While fika is not in the Georgian dictionary, we made do with the closest equivalent: a hearty breakfast and a good chat.

I remember when I was first admitted to Lund University: of course, the great feeling of excitement about spending the next two years in Sweden at one of the best universities in Europe, but also a sense of stepping into the unknown, really not knowing what to expect, no matter how many websites and Internet forums you stumble across. Some things just can’t be explained in a blog post.

Every international student has had the same feeling, and we all enjoy the chance to speak with people who have trodden the path before us; the chance to hear a few words of advice, some reassurance, and an opportunity to ask any questions that are on our minds.
And so it was that we brought eight newly admitted students, three Georgian alumni and 15 from UPF, bachelor and master, Swedish and international, science and humanities, together to share our experiences. Among the newly admitted students, there was an abundance of law students who had been admitted to the International Human Rights Law and European Business Law master programmes, and fortunately for them, UPF’s Head of Travel, Colette, had taken the International Human Rights Law programme herself.

Breakfast in Tbilisi

Breakfast in Tbilisi

And it wasn’t just the newly admitted students who had a lot to talk about. The alumni had gone on to have very interesting careers indeed. A recent finance graduate, Nino, was working for TBC Bank, the largest bank in Georgia, while a less recent graduate from the Law faculty (again), George, was now in the Georgian parliament and previously Vice-Chair of the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT). One of the highlights of the morning was George’s stories of his recent work trip to Turkmenistan, a country almost as closed as North Korea, which inspired a number of us to find out more.

Georgia is known for its hospitality, and the breakfast did not disappoint. Our hosts at Kikliko were so friendly, accommodating and curious, and by the end by the end of the morning we had come away with a number of new friends and even an invitation to a concert they were playing at later that evening. Unfortunately for us, their performance was starting well past our bedtime. But perhaps we will have a chance at the next reunion…


Text & Photo: James Rhys Davies

Alumni Events/Updates 0

Alumni help with recruitment efforts in Kenya and Ghana

Lund University staff received a warm welcome from alumni based in Kenya during a recruitment tour earlier this spring. Dickson Minjire Kinuthia (MSc Development Studies 2014-2016), Joyce Ojino (MSc Environmental Management and Policy 2014-2016) and Eunice Muthoni Muthee (MSc International Strategic Management 2017-2018) attended the alumni breakfast event in Nairobi – the first LU alumni event to be organised in Kenya.

The alumni shared stories and perspectives from their time at Lund University; discussed ideas to help connect more alumni in Kenya; and put forward suggestions to help create more awareness for Lund University as a study destination for Kenyan students.

Dickson and Eunice also participated at the Lund University information meeting for around 55 Master’s degree applicants waiting their admission results. They offered valuable tips for future students, covering topics ranging from academic differences, student life, food and hair care.

Joyce and Dickson kindly offered to be local tour guides, taking Megan Grindlay and Babs Kunle (International Marketing and Recruitment staff) to a local market, the top of the Kenyatta Conference Center building and sharing delicious local food (including ugali, chapati, sukuma wiki, wali, mbuzi, nyama ya ng’ombe and supu ya kuku).

The visit to Nairobi was part of a student recruitment tour, which included education fairs in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya and information events for Lund applicants in four cities.

It was also a pleasure to connect with Ghanaian alumn Musah Ibrahim (MSc Development Studies 2013-2015) who presented at the information meeting for close to 100 Lund University applicants in Accra.

Our thanks to our fantastic alumni for their support of Lund University recruitment initiatives.

 

Text & Photo: Megan Grindlay, International Marketing Manager

Alumni Events/Inspiring alumni/Updates 2

Photo contest winners 2019

Every year, current international students submit their photos for the “My Lund University Experience” photo contest. This year, we announced three winners. 

So totally Swedish

“Head-sized cinnamon bun!” by Wai Lam Ip

When mum says “You can only have ONE.”
Wai Lam Ip, Exchange student from China

Study moments at Lund University

“Leafy Library” by Michaile Jamieson

Ironically, everyone takes photos of the main Lund Library from the outside because it is outstandingly beautiful, but the inside of the library deserves some credit too. This was my study view and is my favourite study spot in.
Michaile Jamieson, Psychology student from Ireland

My Friends in Sweden

“Hiking in Söderåsen National Park” by Waqas Haider

This was a trip in welcome week. While we were close to finish point I took this photo in excitement.
Waqas Haider, Fire engeenering student from Pakistan & Belgium

 

A couple of the winners with their prize (Kånken backpack)!

University happenings/Updates 1