By Busra Kiriscioglu, YES 2012-2013 Turkey, hosted by AYA in Saint Cloud, MN
In Turkey, youth unemployment rates are increasing every year. Turkish high school and college students go about their studies with the fear of being unemployed in the future. As YES Alumni in Turkey, we know we have the potential to make a strong impact on our society. This is why we decided that, to make a positive impact on the unemployment rates, we had to start with our alumni circle.
On October 7, 2017, more than 25 YES alumni came together in Istanbul for the first YES Alumni Networking Day, funded by a YES Alumni Grant. The alumni were a mix of high school and university students, as well as young professionals. The aim is to bring these three groups together and create an arena for them to share their experiences. The high school student alumni spoke with the university student alumni to get a better idea of what their goals and majors are, asked questions about university life, and connected with alumni that share similar interests. The alumni attending university benefited from speaking with more experienced professional alumni, who are already in the workforce. The university students received advice on how to findi jobs when they graduate and some even identified internship opportunities. Attendees came from many different fields of work and study, including engineering, medical school, law, foreign languages, and enterpreneurship – everyone found something that matched their interests!
Busra Cetin (YES 2011-2012, hosted by PAX in Chelmsford, MA), who is studying Molecular Biology and Genetics, shared that “Through the Networking Day, I was able to meet with people from my interest area, and through them, I have found ideas and possible internship opportunities. I think Networking Day has opened many great opportunities for both those who already have a job and those who will be looking for a job. Most of us know each other through volunteering, so there is trust and understanding between us. I believe the collaborations that will come from this Networking Day will be great.”
One of the alumni who is still in high school, Ege Tezcan (YES 2016-2017, hosted by AYUSA in Juneau, Alaska) said, “As a senior in high school, you have many questions about the future. What will I study in college? What is it actually like to be a lawyer? Am I really capable of doing that? What does an entrepreneur do? On the Networking Day, we had a chance to find some answers to our questions. We also had a chance to meet with other YES alumni, so it helped us build a stronger relationship with YES alumni in Turkey.”
We thank the YES program and the U.S. Department of State for helping us create such a fruitful day for young alumni in Turkey. We hope to expand our Alumni Networking Days to a bigger audience and help decrease unemployment rates with small, but sure, steps like this event.