A Network of ErasmusNESS: What You Want for Success
It’s called ErasmusNESS, and it’s what you want to have if you are looking to be hired, start a business or lead a company in the EU. A term coined and presented by garagErasmus (in collaboration with university consortium Cineca), it represents the resilience, versatility, and empathy so valuable in today’s constantly changing, diverse job market. The idea developed as a way to give concrete value to the soft skills that Erasmus students across the EU acquire during their exchange experiences. With one third of employers across Europe struggling to find adequately qualified employees for their enterprises, garagErasmus is taking the pre-established network of international, adaptable Erasmus students and building an online platform to link employers, investors and Erasmus students in the same spot.
We spoke with Simone Ravaioli, international business developer for Cineca, about the goals of the garagErasmus initiative. “Erasmus is a life changing experience. Erasmus alumni have a very strong sense of belonging to the Erasmus community, and there is a high level of empathy, and that keeps the community together,” says Simone. “GaragErasmus is an initiative to bring together the Erasmus generation by developing an online platform, which aims to be the LinkedIn for the Erasmus.” The group has launched Check-in Europe to tap into this pre-existing community network and exploit it for the benefit of employment and economic growth in the EU.
The tricky part is quantifying the skill set that Erasmus students gain through their experience. As Simone says, “The Erasmus experience provides students with specific skills– language, resilience, empathy – and these are the soft skills that are powerful against the challenges of today and also the skills of the future. These skills are sought out after by employers, who are looking for people with international experience and viewpoints.” This is where Bestr, Simone’s other project comes into play. Bestr is an online, open badge system intended to valorize acquired competences. Bestr will provide the concrete link between students’ skills and the Check-in Europe online platform.
Simone explains, “As a user you profile yourself adding your info: your interests and your skills. Then we integrate Bestr so we bring in the badges as more solid evidence of your skills. We are going to start with one very specific badge which is the ErasmusNESS badge.” As students complete the Erasmus program, they are asked to fill out an assessment form (from the EU commission) and are given the opportunity to become engaged in the Erasmus alumni community. Immediate ErasmusNESS Bestr badges provide incentives for alumni who might otherwise opt-out of the network, in that they quantify the Erasmus experience as a valuable asset to future employers or business partners. Adds Simone, “The people that are on this platform have all been exposed to international experience and have the skills that companies are looking for – so companies/recruiters can then sift through candidates.”
On Thursday, October 8th Cineca hosted a get-together to introduce garagErasmus’ Check-in Europe and the Bestr connection to various university affiliates. The event focused on the value of the Erasmus network from an entrepreneurial point of view. Future Food Institute founder Sara Roversi spoke about the impact and empowerment of young entrepreneurs, and the importance of connection and collaboration through networks to achieve success. She was followed by Marco Gay, President of the Giovani Imprenditori Cofindustria in Italy. A round table discussion in the afternoon hosted Erasmus Alums, garagErasmus representatives, as well as panelists from the world of academia and corporate Italy, all with the intent to talk about the advantages of the Erasmus Alumni network and the crucial role garagErasmus, Check-in Europe and Bestr will play in the employment and start-up communities.
The Future Food Institute is excited to have collaborated with Bestr in the past, awarding participants in the Feeding Fair hackathon skill badges in team building, hacking, leadership and prototyping skills. We look forward to following the collaboration between Bestr, garagErasmus and Cineca down the road, and are hoping to get our hands on some ErasmusNESS too!