IE University undergrads Laura Ortega, Rocio Gonzalez and Masa Haikal discuss the best ways to make friends at university, the multitude of professional development opportunities that IE University offers, and why the changeability of the future means you should focus on enjoying the present.
Starting anew at university can be daunting, but undergrads Laura (fourth year, Bachelor in Communication & Digital Media), Rocio (third year, Bachelor in Data & Business Analytics) and Masa (third year, Bachelor in Behavior & Social Sciences) cannot stress enough how open and friendly the IE University campus is. One solid approach to integrating quickly into this new environment and making friends fast is living in university accommodation.
Laura and Masa, who lived in The Factory Residence Hall on the Segovia campus, “100% recommend” living in a student residence to meet new people. The intimacy of Segovia also means that students cluster on campus, so making friends is easy. Another rite of passage for students in Segovia is weekends at the local pub, Canavans-Theatre.
The rush and diversity of city life in Madrid can paradoxically make meeting new people a bit more of a challenge, but Laura says this is nothing that open-mindedness and friendliness can’t fix. “Try to talk to everyone,” she encourages. “This is your opportunity to just be yourself. No one is going to judge you.” She adds, “Try to always be nice to everyone because they probably want to make friends and are in the same situation as you.”
- Incoming students can reach out to the admissions department to learn more about accommodation in residence halls and how to meet new classmates.
- There are various forms of financial support and scholarships available to minimize the costs of living on campus; details of these are available on the Financial Aid Office webpage.
Building social networks
Another tried-and-true method of making a smooth social transition into university life is by joining WhatsApp and Facebook groups. There are a number of groups dedicated to incoming IE University students, and these can be a great way to get to know classmates before arriving on campus. There are also all kinds of clubs to take students’ minds off of coursework as well as help them expand their friend groups and networks. All three students also invite incoming students to reach out on social media with any questions they may have.
Don’t hesitate to contact students and alumni, because they went through what you’re going to go through, and they will definitely be happy to share their experience and give you any tips.Masa advises
This sense of community and mutual support is one of the central components of IE University’s identity. “Although we don’t all know each other,” Rocio says, “we do have that feeling of community. Even when you’re looking for jobs, you can reach out to alumni and they almost always help you.”
Getting ready for the world of work
Speaking of jobs, one way for new students to get a head start on the job market is by completing lEU Labs. Labs are yet another example of IE University’s innovative approach to learning and driving students to get the most out of their time here. In essence, labs are campus-based, internship-like experiences dedicated to professional projects within a fully tutored environment.
As practical, hands-on experiences, labs allow students to manage clients—sometimes hypothetical, sometimes real—and apply what they’ve learned in class to a real-world environment. Laura recalls that her communications lab experiences in her first and second years allowed her to both create her first videos and to build stronger ties with her course professor through an intense summer collaboration period. She cites this type of practical training and portfolio building as central to being a competitive job candidate post-graduation.
- IE University hosts a range of labs under the umbrellas of consultancy, social responsibility and entrepreneurship. Although labs are aimed primarily at first- and second-year students, students from all years are welcome to join in.
Another real-world professional experience geared toward upper-year students is internships, and IE University professors can again play a key role in helping students access their dream programs. The professors at IE University hail from a plethora of fields and are happy to share their knowledge with students. Professors can link students to their network of contacts to help orchestrate internships or other valuable professional development opportunities.
Moreover, the English fluency gained through coursework and interactions provides another hugely beneficial skill to students’ CVs, while the blend of languages spoken around the IE University campus keeps everyday life diverse and interesting.
Education is a journey
Masa underlines the importance of patience for students at the start of their educational journey. The Bachelor in Behavior & Social Sciences spans a number of fields, permitting students to experience the diversity of this emerging field before they home in on what interests them most.
The first year of most programs is largely dedicated to laying the theoretical foundations of the field. In this way, students have a solid basis to build on in the following three years as coursework becomes increasingly practical, including courses devoted to working directly with companies. Students also have the chance to take elective courses, which can be from any school, allowing students to branch out and dabble in courses they’re curious about.
Rocio, Laura and Masa all recommend not stressing too much about the future or having everything planned out. In the communications industry, Laura explains, it’s all about keeping up with the latest trends. The education at IE University equips students in the background and skills needed to adapt to constant change, and Rocio and Masa agree that this type of flexibility is key to any field. Taking things one year at a time and not knowing exactly what you want to do is totally normal; as Masa says, “It’s a journey, and you get to decide what you like and what you don’t” as you gain experience.
I think the best thing you take out of IE University is the people you meet, because you carry friendships for life.Laura Ortega