Nathalie Niekisch coordinated GO Konstanz as a student coordinator. Nathalie left the GO at the beginning of the year to go on a semester abroad in Portugal. rootAbility interviewed her about her experiences.
Felix: For how long have you been involved with GO Konstanz?
Nathalie: 1.5 years. I got involved with the GO in September 2014 when we lobbied for funding. I then worked as student coordinator, since the funding got approved in spring 2015.
Felix: What were your roles as central coordinator?
Nathalie: I had a great variety of tasks. My tasks included administrative work, like financial planning, arranging contracts for the student assistants, recruiting new students or making sure that we get our office space at the beginning.
Another important task was stakeholder engagement. I was the official contact person for the university and external partners. People contacted me to learn about the GO, I arranged meetings with our advisory board, met with our contact person within the university, and scheduled workshops with rootAbility.
And of course, I also coordinated the team. For instance, I organised our weekly team meetings, or assisted people with their projects if they needed help.
Felix: That sounds like a lot of work. To what extent were you also involved in managing your own projects?
It indeed was a lot of work and responsibility. I did not manage any projects. That was not always easy for me, because I also like to do content work. Still as a coordinator I needed to maintain an oversight and that is difficult if you also dive into your own projects.
Felix: We know from other GOs that starting-up a GO can be a bumpy ride. Looking back, what would you have done differently starting up GO Konstanz?
Nathalie: One challenge was that our GO was kick-started very fast. We handed in the application and then got our funding approved within a couple of weeks. Then we jumped too fast into action, without thinking about strategy first.
Our GO also started with five student employees. Looking back, we should have hired more people to help us kick-start the GO. During the first half year, we should have hired someone for the website, and assist with increasing the visibility of the GO. We actually had money for that.
To get to know each other as a team and have a quick, first result, we also should have all worked on one project first: Focus the energy and creativity of the whole team on writing the sustainability report of the university.
We hope that by sharing our experiences like this that other GOs can learn from it.
Felix: What is GO Konstanz currently doing?
There are a lot of things going on. We are organising a sustainability day this year as our main event, as well as a networking meeting for all student initiatives and groups at the university.
We will are also finishing the sustainability report, which we are now working on with four people. Once the report is finished, it will be a major achievement for us. The report is important as it outlines where the university currently stands and what next steps we need to take. Without the GO, this would not have been possible.
Behind the scenes, we are also finishing our new website to improve our visibility, and will increase our team from five to eight people. We have 15 000 Euro in funding per year, and now made some changes in the budget planning so that we can actually hire three more student assistants. This will help us to run even more events and projects.
Felix: Thanks a lot for the short interview, Nathalie. Enjoy your semester abroad and we are looking forward to working with GO Konstanz in 2016.
Text by Felix Spira, Photo by GO Konstanz