Alumni and young scientists met up to foster and strengthen connections
200 participants from Germany and abroad were attending the event in Berlin
The first 'Max Planck Symposium for Alumni and Early Career Researchers' took place in Harnack House in Berlin from August 22 to 24, 2016. 99 active Max Planck researchers, postdocs, and group leaders as well as 96 alumni registered for the event. The latter travelled to Berlin from 29 different countries around the world, including - alongside the USA (14) and India (13) – from Australia, South America and Africa (see map).
This great cultural diversity of participants was taken into account by the 'Cultural Running Dinner' hosted on the third day of the symposium, when food from a variety of countries was offered at various venues in Harnack House, and participants were invited to wear traditional local dress.
One of the goals in organising the conference was to make it as family friendly as possible. In addition to a large garden, the Harnack House also has a play room for children, and childcare was available during the conference. Only three participants had to cancel at the last minute – for good reasons: An alumnus from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, for example, had to see to his wine grape harvest in Colombia.
The Max Planck Alumni Association (MPAA) was founded by dedicated alumni with support from the Administrative Headquarters in December 2015. With the active support of the MPAA, the first symposium for alumni and young researchers of the Max Planck Society was taking place in Harnack House in Berlin. The objective: to create a platform for an exchange of views between young scientists and alumni with valuable professional experience. After all, alumni are important contacts to other organizations and companies. They are both recruiters and possible sponsors and an invaluable resource of expertise and experience.
In addition to the keynotes delivered by international experts in the alumni field, there was a series of lectures by Max Planck alumni with professional experience in the areas of life science, medicine, law and entrepreneurship, which were intended to provide young researchers with an insight into different career paths.
What shape could a future cooperation between alumni and young researchers take? This question was the subject of numerous workshops outlining best-practice examples of successful alumni organizations and career networks (Yale, Helmholtz, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Life Science Lab) as well as different aspects of career advancement within the Max Planck Alumni Association (career services, mentoring, lifelong learning).
One of the symposium's key priorities was to identify the requirements of the participants and try and address the needs within the MPAA in a target-oriented manner and with the greatest possible support by the MPG.