Alumni stories: Hong Kong Recent Graduates Network
The inside track: How UCL’s Recent Graduates Network leads in Hong Kong are helping UCL alumni plan their futures.
4 June 2021
Supporting the professional development of fellow recent graduates in the midst of a pandemic was never going to be easy, with face-to-face activities being firmly off the agenda. But through creative thinking and hard work, the ambitious leads of the Recent Graduates Network in Hong Kong have built something which might become the model for all global alumni groups.
Rather than just setting up virtual events, the fledgling team - Gokce Narin, Natalie Kwok and Josh Li - decided to go further, creating quality on-demand content that would be beneficial to alumni both now and into the future. They devised a careers-focused video series called Industry Insiders, and the four films they’ve made so far have been watched by nearly 20,000 people worldwide.
Their efforts are now being recognised, as they have received this year's UCL Alumni Volunteering Award for Alumni Group/Network Of The Year.
The UCL bond
Brought together by a UCL search for volunteers last summer, the leads have varied areas of expertise. Gokce studied Economics and Business with Eastern European Studies – she graduated in 2010 and now works in marketing and content creation. Josh studied Biological Sciences, graduated in 2016 and now works in recruitment. And Natalie did Arts and Sciences, graduating in 2015 – she is now in the tech industry. But all three have a common goal for the Recent Graduates Network – to create much deeper connections between UCL alumni in Hong Kong, to everyone’s benefit.
“I think in life we’re generally looking for like-minded people,” says Gokce. “When you get into the workforce there are so many people from different walks of life and with different mindsets. But UCL alumni can often just connect - we often share an outlook, and we have that shared background.”
Josh adds: “When you meet someone and you’re both from UCL, it's like having a bond. Conversations lead to business ideas, potential partnerships, innovations. It's a really powerful networking tool.”
Hope and opportunities
Industry Insiders was born of a group brainstorming session, with Gokce’s marketing and content experience driving the idea. The series ‘lifts the lid’ on different industries through interviews with notable UCL alumni working within those fields. The team were responsible for overseeing all aspects of production – recruiting other volunteers where necessary, and working with UCL’s Digital Media team to ensure quality in the final editing. Each industry has an introductory video, and a follow-up which answers key questions sent in by alumni and students.
The first two industries profiled were finance (one of Hong Kong’s top professions) and start-ups. The latter was chosen partly for its current relevance. Natalie explains: “Because of COVID, lots of people have been considering career alternatives. We deliberately decided to profile a start-up owner and also someone who used to be a consultant and then chose to go and work for a start-up. We wanted to bring a new perspective in this pandemic situation and still bring hope and opportunities through our network.”
As well as racking up the online views, the videos have had an enormous impact within UCL, with praise from senior staff such as Professor Dame Hazel Genn and Adrian Punaks, and extra promotion via UCL Careers’ social media and newsletters. Recent Graduates Network leads in India, the USA and South East Asia are also now producing similar content for their networks.
The benefits of the project are huge, not just for viewers, but also for the team. Josh says: “I didn’t have creative or marketing skills before this project. I started from scratch. I’ve learnt project management and skills for future video projects, as well as some negotiating – asking people for favours can be quite challenging.”
Natalie says she has learnt about connecting with different people: “Being able to do this with Gokce and Josh allowed me to work with different people from those in my job, which is a new horizon for me. And the relationships we’ve built with our interviewees have led to some very inspirational conversations."
Gokce adds: “Meeting more people at UCL was really good for me, and seeing behind the scenes of how UCL works. You don't get to see that as a student. It’s been eye-opening.”
Asked if they would recommend volunteering to other UCL alumni, the team give a unanimous ‘yes’! “It brings back the feeling of when you were studying and connecting with your peers,” says Natalie. “It’s a great way to have fun while also doing something good for your community,” says Gokce. And Josh says: “I recommend volunteering to anyone who wants to expand their reach and meet new people. This is one of the best things I’ve done this year.”
To help you stay connected with your UCL peers, our volunteers run alumni clubs and community networks especially designed for UCL alumni all over the world - find a group or network near you.