In the occasion of the Youth Development month, the Youth Development Working Group reached out to four AEGEE alumni and interviewed them, with the intention to connect past, present and future of AEGEE. Here’s the third interview of the series: Fabian Brüggeman (formerly) from AEGEE-Düsseldorf.
YDWG: Hello Fabian, can you introduce yourself a bit?
Fabian: Sure! I’m living in Cologne in a very nice house with five and a half flatmates (one of them is a small kid) and a cat, with a garden and a pool. The perfect place to live and relax! I am working at the university – doing project management – but I reduced my working hours in order to have more time for my own business: I am running a training company called Improve yourself, where I help my participants to improve their softskills, mostly by the means of methods of improvisational theatre, which is a lot of fun! I played improv for quite some years, but now I am rather giving classes in improv in my leisure time.
And when did you become a member of AEGEE? How many years did you volunteer in it and what have you done during those years?
I became member of AEGEE in December 2004. Actually, I just wanted to be president of the local team which took care of the Erasmus students, but I was told I “had to be in the board of AEGEE” to do so. So I thought “Whatever, just join!”. And that’s how it started. I went to my first Agora in Izmir in 2005, met great people, re-founded AEGEE Düsseldorf in 2009… In 2010 I wanted to quit. I was working back then already, and I thought it was time to let go. But I was asked to help out “one last time” for the European Ideas Factory in Gliwice. And somehow the spirit came back (maybe meeting a nice girl helped as well [he winks, ed.]). That was the time I started giving trainings in AEGEE, teaching what I had learned before being a participant in improv classes. And somehow my participants loved it! I called that workshop “Improve yourself” and at some Agoras I had to give it twice because so many people wanted to join. Since I also became a systemic coach, I joined the MemCom and one term later was elected speaker. Back then, I enjoyed giving team building trainings, also for CDs, like the one for CD just after the vote of confidence back in 2012 in Enschede. During that time, together with Katja Berendt, I made a proposal to change the MemCom into the MedCom, to make sure it can be much more helpful and step in at an earlier time. I was their president from 2012-13. My active time ended back then, but here and there I am still asked to contribute, like for example taking care of teambuilding for the current CD back in August.
What does AEGEE mean for you?
AEGEE is a playground, where its members share the same values. And with playground I mean the space to make mistakes and learn from them, improving and growing. A lot of people are annoyed that AEGEE tries to reinvent the wheel each couple of years. I disagree with them – I think it’s amazing, because that means all those people in the CD, commissions, projects… they are able to do the same mistakes and learn from them big times!
What was the biggest thing that AEGEE brought to you?
The space to grow and learn to become a trainer. At this very moment, writing the answers, I am sitting in a train going back home, because I gave a teambuilding training to a company in southern Germany. This would not have happened without AEGEE!
Which skills did you improve most during your very active years in AEGEE?
Communication, understanding (cultural) differences in people and value them, how to handle big egos without fighting against them, liking people and team work.
Did these skills help you to find a job easily?
Absolutely! I started working at a huge international IT-consulting company after my studies, and half of the time of my job interview was about AEGEE and the experiences I had in AEGEE, working in international teams. They were really curious about it!
What would you say is the biggest benefit of AEGEE for young people looking for a job? Do you have any advice for newbies in AEGEE?
I think the biggest benefit is that young people can make experiences that are valuable for future employees. Intercultural competences, communication, team work… which you can mention and stress in job interviews. Don’t just do it for your CV, but do it for yourself. If you have an intrinsic motivation, go for it, as long it’s aligned with the values of AEGEE it will be a win-win situation. You need to shape your “AEGEE-path” yourself, go and create it.
Written by Batuhan Çarıkçı, Youth Development Working Group