Cancan Demir has just graduated from the Bachelor in Business Administration after four years at IE University. We spoke to him to find out about his experience in Madrid and Segovia and what made his time with us so fun, exciting and rewarding.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Cancan Demir, and I’m of German and Turkish descent. I was born and raised in Frankfurt, Germany before I moved to Spain to study at IE University in 2016. I spent my first two years in Segovia, and graduated four years later with a Bachelor in Business Administration in 2020.
What did you particularly enjoy about studying at IE University?
I’d have to say that studying in Segovia was the best way to start my degree. In fact, some of my best moments at IE University took place there. There aren’t many restaurants and extracurricular activities to choose from—which actually added to the experience. The smaller city brought us all together and helped us to develop friendships that will last a lifetime. We were able to discover nature, hang out and still have time for our studies.
I will always look back on my time at IE University with a smile. It’s been an amazing journey. There are countless opportunities to engage in different clubs from sports, debates, politics and music (to name a few). One thing’s for sure—IE University enables you to meet people from all over the world, which is a truly amazing advantage that shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s a combination of the people, the institution itself, and everything outside of the classroom that has made it such an incredible experience. You won’t have a dull time here.
Can you describe IE University in three words?
Fun, exciting and eye-opening.
How would you summarize what you’ve learned at IE University?
It’s difficult to summarize everything I’ve learned into one blog post, because I’ve developed my knowledge on so many different levels. One of my main takeaways from IE University is that I’ve learned to be open-minded about everything—it’s now my default mindset. Take risks, try new things, and take on those scary challenges that you want to conquer.
Life is more fun when you innovate and create new things, and this can certainly be carried over to the way you are as a professional. I can tell that many IE University students share the same perspectives on how to get through life, and this way of being stands out for recruiters—it’s a quality that makes you one step ahead of the rest.
What challenges have you faced during your studies?
It’s always tricky to get started with something. And making the decision at 17 or 18 years old to study abroad for four years, in a country where you don’t speak the language, is absolutely no different. Just like everyone else, I also had my own challenges to add to the mix.
On a personal level, I like to be comfortable, so at the beginning it was a challenge to make sure that everything worked out perfectly. It took me time to adapt to my new environment. However, the lifestyle change quickly turned into a fun and happy journey.
I also faced challenges related to academia and my background. Up to that point, I’d only studied the German Abitur, and had never taken any classes in English. So for the first month, it was slightly hard to keep up with subjects that were taught in English such as Math and Statistics, and I wasn’t very familiar with the terminology used.
As with everything in life, we face challenges every single day. It’s up to us whether we want to accept and work on them, or simply ignore them. The thing is that every time you ignore these challenges, they will chase you until you take them on.
Do you have any advice for future students in terms of extracurricular activities, additional initiatives and work experience?
Throughout my time at IE University, I’ve tried to get involved in additional activities alongside my studies and life outside of school. In terms of academia, I loved the idea of being able to represent my class and peers and to lead us through our studies. So, from my first year onwards, I made the decision to be either class representative or vice-class representative. I never really took the title or image seriously, and after I was voted in, my peers knew that my “speech” was never more than two sentences long. I faced misunderstandings with professors and my peers, challenges with organizational tasks, and was expected to organize cool social events for my classes, but I enjoyed my time and wouldn’t have done it differently.
I also wanted to make the most of my annual three-month summer vacation. IE University helps you to make that time productive, offering a variety of seminars and internship opportunities. I’ve done an internship every summer since starting my studies. I chose activities and experiences that I find interesting and enriching, and I also wanted a taste of what I would like to do with my life in terms of a career.
The internships I have completed include one at an Additive Manufacturing (3D printing) company in Munich, a strategic consultancy in Frankfurt, a mining company in Lima, Peru and then one at Amazon in Luxembourg, where I’ve actually just started to work full time. During those experiences, I was able to apply my skills and tools from my studies, and learn new things that I could apply to my bachelor’s program for projects, presentations and even my final thesis.
My personal advice for anyone starting or continuing their degree is that they should go for it and make every opportunity count. They should collect experiences and make use of the network that IE University offers (this also applies to master’s students and the alumni network).
What do you consider to be the key to success?
Discipline. It’s the key to achieving drive and structure in your day, whether you’re studying or working. Discipline is what pushes you to perform and do things even if you don’t feel like it. It’s a habit, you can learn and earn it.
Curiosity. It’s literally what describes me. You can talk to me about any topic, and I will be interested and willing to learn more about it. Being curious is a mindset that allows you to continuously learn, research and develop your ability to analyze and dive into subjects. Not only will it make your life more exciting and help you acquire knowledge, but it will be a very important asset for your professional career.
Open-mindedness. As I’ve already mentioned, being open-minded is extremely important. There is no right or wrong with this—you can be open-minded in your own way. Innovative ideas and new developments come from people who are open-minded, ready to challenge the status quo and who are excited to be surprised by what’s out there. Being scared is a natural instinct; the more you open up, the more you expose yourself to experiences that might not be what you want or like—but you get used to it. I always like to say: an open mind leaves all doors open for you. You have a choice in life.
How would you describe the IE University experience in one sentence?
Get ready for fun, challenges, unforgettable memories, lots of new and amazing friendships, and let’s not forget the reason we are all here—a good degree!
At IE University, we are proud to welcome over 140 nationalities to our campus every year. We thank Cancan for sharing his story with us, and look forward to hearing about his next achievements!