Volume 13, Number 17
06 Feburary

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This Week

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Bilkent Alumni Shares Experience About Life After Bilkent

This week Bilkent News interviewed Sertaç Polat (BF '04), who chaired the European Youth Parliament Summit in Vienna in July 2006.

Bilkent News: Sertaç, welcome back to your school. Would you share some general information about yourself with us?
Sertaç Polat: I grew up in Ankara and graduated from Milli Piyango Anatolian High School. Bilkent's Banking and Finance department was my first choice after taking the nationwide university entrance examination. During my undergraduate education I held internships in the İstanbul Stock Exchange, the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey, Halkbank and with the European Union General Secretariat in Ankara. I was also on the Bilkent soccer team and I was also interested in politics. After graduation, I worked for the Yapı Kredi Pension Company before my military service. In the meantime, I applied to Kırıkkale University for graduate education. I finished my military service, and I am currently working on my dissertation.

B.N.: Did you benefit from your internships and work experience?
Sertaç: Yes, those experiences gave me new insights and different perspectives. I also earned basic education certificates about the European Union from ATAUM - Ankara University Center of European Communities Research and Application. I was also interested in advertising, and I participated in an Adventure Advertising Competition at Bosphorus University in 2005. Our team was chosen for the final stage. After a while, I worked for TOBB University of Economics and Technology.

B.N.: You graduated from the department of Banking and Finance in 2004, and your department was a bilingual department, with instruction in both English and French. Have you taken advantage of this education?
Sertaç: Yes, especially when applying for positions, knowing both English and French is an advantage. For some positions, French is required along with English. This is one of the advantages of Bilkent. In the private sector, if you want to specialize in a wide range of topics, you feel the difference after having been educated at Bilkent.

B.N.: In July 2006, you were the Chairman of the European Youth Parliament in European Youth Summit in Vienna. What did you experience as the Turkish delegation?
Sertaç: First of all, a group of five representatives including myself, and a coordinator, attended the summit. In this group, my friend, Mehmet Tan İnce (BF '04), was also one of my classmates from Bilkent. The other countries participating were: Austria as the host country, Germany, Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, and Hungary. Since we were guests, we were a little bit shy and reluctant at the beginning. However, as the discussions went ahead, we observed that some participants were not sufficiently informed on some issues. Before we arrived there, we were already prepared for the event. They offered me the presidency of the parliament simulation, but at some points we also received some negative reactions. Consequently, I was elected with a landslide majority and...

B.N.: The event attracted the attention of the media, didn't it?
Sertaç: …Yes, some of the meetings were broadcast on TRT and published in the Turkish daily newspapers. It also attracted the attention of the European press, especially the Austrian press. They wrote "The unexpected happened: a Turk became the parliament leader!" Some members of our parliament had negative views and prejudices against Turkey, caused by misleading information. They exaggerated the problems of Turkey, but Europe also has some local problems; and all EU member states have some nationwide problems. The thing I want to add about the European Youth Summit is that when we first arrived we were viewed as outsiders and strangers. After meeting one another, their behaviors toward us changed, and I even spoke to members of the actual Austrian parliament. They applauded us! During my military service in İstanbul, Czech representatives came and visited me. Finally, our parliamentary work was sent to the European Parliament with my signature on it. We had a mission there and we completed it.

B.N.: Do you have any message to Bilkenters?
Sertaç: Yes, students are in their best years here. In the future, they may not be able to find circumstances like those provided here at Bilkent. They should be aware of this fact; they should not only concentrate on their studies, but also experience life. They should attend sports and cultural activities as well as lay down the path for their future career.

Erkan Bayır (MBG/III)

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