Last week, IICS 2012 graduate Can Topçuoğlu visited us at Marmara. Thank you Can for coming (back!) and sharing with us your memories and what you’re up to!
How was your experience of being a student at IICS? What type of activities were you involved in?
Being a student at IICS was a real privilege. Having international exposure at a crucial developmental time in your life is truly an asset that has resonated through my life since I graduated 5 years ago. The challenging curriculum enabled me to, in turn, challenge myself not only academically but athletically and socially. During my 11 year tenure at IICS, I was involved in several activities such as volleyball and football, placing 2nd in my graduating year with the HS Volleyball team. In addition, travelling for the team was an eye opening experience that gave me the chance to experience new places and new cultures with my teammates.
What did you study afterwards?
After graduating IICS in 2012, I went on to earn my Bachelors Degree in 2016 at Pace University in New York City. I studied Political Science and Economics with a minor in History and Law. Being in New York was always thrilling and challenging, but it enabled me to harness and sharpen my skills and abilities.
And how was your experience of studying at the university?
Pace University was a great fit for me, the campus is in the middle of Downtown Manhattan, incredibly accessible to great academic and social activities. Class sizes were small which allowed us to be heard and given attention, class schedules were flexible and plentiful. One thing I will always cherish is never having a class on Friday! We all got the chance to get very close to our professors, so much so that I left Pace with a standing letter of reference from three outstanding professors.
What kind of activities did you get involved in during your university years?
I was very focused on my studies during my time at Pace and was upset to find out that they did not offer varsity level Volleyball. Nonetheless I joined the Pace Turkish Students Society, a group dedicated to the celebration and promotion of Turkish culture on campus that organised events for incoming Turkish students, in fact I was able to meet and greet two Turkish students from IICS that ended up attending Pace! I would have to say the highlight of my tenure at Pace was when I was chosen to be featured in a prominent Economics Journal by Professor Weinstock, my Sports Economics & Game Theory Economics professor for my final exam essay on NBA Roaster Depreciation. That was a real honor.
What do you do now?
After graduation I was offered a very lucrative opportunity to work with Peter Economides, CEO of the Brand Consultancy company Felix BNI based in Athens, Greece. This was a real privilege as Peter, an ex-advertising executive who worked closely with individuals such as Apple’s Steve Jobs and Coca Cola’s Chief Marketing Officer Sergio Zyman has had a distinguished career working with some of the largest brands in the world. My work with Peter took us all over the world, from New York to Mumbai and was truly a life changing experience. After a year with Peter I had the opportunity to move back to Istanbul to work in our family business Selamlique Istanbul, a Turkish Coffee company. Currently, I work as the Brand Director/Social Media Director for Selamlique Istanbul’s entire domestic and international operations. Despite these success’, I have had a few offers to work in London or go back to New York to work for a few brand consultancy agencies.
What would be your highlights about your IICS period? What did you absolutely love about it?
The best thing about IICS for me was the opportunity to make friends from all over the world, which I did. Yes, it was hard to say goodbye to friends over the years as they moved around. Yet, I came to understand the importance of having international friends all over the world as it has been a critical factor in shaping my environments and my world view, and it is always a treat when they come back to Istanbul for a visit or when I get a chance to go see them!
What would be your message to current IICS students?
Work hard, but have fun! Yes school is very important, but you are in your best years, so make every moment count, both in and out of the classroom. For the seniors I would urge them to think carefully about the school they choose after IICS. Don’t be fooled by fancy names, aim high, but make sure the school is the right fit for you. A big name school and a big name education means nothing without you being comfortable with it and enjoying it too. Lastly, when you get to university, knock on every door, shake as many hands as you can and get to know as many people as you can, sometimes knowing someone can give you a huge competitive advantage, socially and professionally. You never know where you might see that person again.
Did you have “OMG I’m so lucky I’ve gone to IICS” moments?
The moment I realized I was lucky to have gone to IICS and finished the IB was the first 20 page essay I had to write for my Public Economic Policy class freshman year. While everyone else was shocked by the work load and the length of the essay, I thought back to all the long and complex papers I wrote at IICS and knew I could do it with ease. My essay writing skills had been honed at IICS and I was delighted to learn I had gotten an A- on one of my first papers. Without the IB or IICS, I don’t think I would have taken to writing papers so well that quickly. Lastly, at university I always felt I had an international education and that I could use it to my advantage often. I owe that to my curriculum and wonderful teachers at IICS.