Join Miguel Gutierrez and Yasmina Taher, fourth-year students about to graduate from the Bachelor in Design at IE University, to hear about what their time in the program has meant to them.
Both Miguel Gutierrez and Yasmina Taher launched their adventure at IE University four years ago. Now, there’s no better time to reflect on their experience as students in the Bachelor in Design. Miguel opens the conversation by going back to the first moment they arrived at the Segovia campus of IE University.
How does it feel to arrive in Spain from your home country, without knowing anyone?
For Yasmina, joining IE University at its Segovia campus was an adventure from day one. At first, “it was really hard moving to a country without speaking the language.” However, by being “open to meet new people and learn about their lives, their countries, and their cultures,” she was able to make friends quickly. This was simpler in Segovia, as it’s a small campus and a tight-knit community. Yasmina found it quite easy to form bonds with others in an intimate way, even in a short amount of time.
At IE University, there are bachelor’s programs offered both at the campus in Segovia, about 90 kilometers away from Madrid, as well as at our innovative new urban campus, the IE Tower in Madrid. How can an international student choose between the two? For some degrees, starting in Segovia is mandatory, but for others, like the Bachelor in Design, it’s optional. The choice was difficult for Yasmina, but in the end, she’s glad she chose to begin her undergraduate journey in Segovia. Segovia is an architectural gem, so it was the perfect place to begin her studies in design. Another perk of Segovia is that it really helped Yasmina immerse herself in Spanish culture. All classes at IE University are taught in English, but in Segovia, there are more opportunities to learn Spanish and speak with locals.
Some people wonder if there’s enough to do in Segovia, especially for people who are outgoing and adventurous. Miguel reassures us, though, that even on the Segovia campus there is always plenty of entertainment. Student-led clubs put on “a ton of activities, students create their own groups, and there are traditions and events all the time.”
Students have full freedom and support to form new clubs, as well, and make their life as interesting and busy as they’d like. There’s even a popular local Irish pub that has a city feel, but is still surrounded by the local charm of a town as beautiful as Segovia. Finally, the Segovia campus has expanded in recent years. It’s always been a beautiful historic space, but now they’ve added sports courts and more facilities, where they hold competitions and games to bring students together from across different degrees. And of course, after the first two years, all students move to the Madrid campus to finish their studies. In that way, students that start at Segovia get “the best of both worlds.”
Miguel shares that combining Segovia with Madrid means “an endless array of possibilities to engage with students, staff and faculty” thanks to its small size. It makes everyone “feel like family” before diving into the bigger world of Madrid.
Why study design?
The Bachelor in Design stood out to Yasmina and Miguel for a few reasons. For Yasmina, she appreciated how “broad” the Bachelor in Design was. She came in “without knowing too much about design,” so she was open to learning about lots of new things.
This degree taught her how to adapt previously held notions and work in many different areas. She never felt “limited to one specific type of design.” Rather, she got exposure to all different types of design: interior design, graphic design and much more. Miguel highlighted how the program put a focus on hands-on learning. Everything is practical and solutions-driven, offering real professional experience in a collaborative context. Students frequently work in design studios and have a lot of variety in the projects they take on. In the end, the degree taught them that design is about more than just making something look good. It’s about functionality and practicality, or as Miguel puts it, “putting the user at the center.” Both Yasmina and Miguel know that they’ll be able to apply these lessons in their future careers.
This is what IE University’s Bachelor in Design promotes: impact and action through design. In this type of education, “anyone can be a designer” as long as they are curious, constantly evolving and able to “render a problem into an opportunity,” as Miguel describes it. They must feel connected to their cause and the purpose of the project. A good designer knows how to combine desirability, feasibility and viability to meet people’s needs for any given project. Both Yasmina and Miguel feel like these are the key skills they took away from this degree, and they encourage anyone to give it a try, regardless of their previous skills in the field. Skills like software can be learned as you go, but the important thing is to have an open mindset from the start.
Remember, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know exactly where you want to go after studying design. Both Miguel and Yasmina found that their career paths are coming together little by little based on their strengths and interests. For them and their peers, with diverse backgrounds and a wide array of skills, their career options are endless.
What about the professors?
The program’s professors are “super open” to answering questions from students and making connections beyond the classroom. Plus, they are perfect connections to the professional world, helping students search for jobs or internships in companies they know or have worked for. There’s a lot of one-on-one opportunities to learn from them and from professors in other degrees as well.
What will you miss about the IE University experience?
For Miguel, just leaving Segovia after his second year was a big shift, and he immediately began to “miss the homey feel of the town and the community.” But the good news is, the solid relationships he was able to form in Segovia allowed him to open up and enjoy Madrid even more. Without the Segovia experience, Madrid could seem overwhelming.
Yasmina knows that she’s made lifelong connections. She has decided to continue her educational path at IE University for the Master in Strategic Interior Design, so she’s not ready to “miss” anything just yet. Nevertheless, she reflected on the bonds she felt with her fellow students in the Bachelor in Design, where the whole class stayed together over four years. This sensation of family, just like for Miguel, marked her IE University experience.