Nilay Şahin redirected the course of her career towards Europe when she was still in university. Şahin, who realized her dreams about working in the field of Europe after Turkey acceded into the Customs Union, has kept on gaining further experience in this field in every step of her career. She returned from Italy as a European Union expert after getting her master’s degree at European School of Economics in Italy via Jean Monnet Scholarship Program. Nilay Şahin, who still works as a European Union expert in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, successfully represents both the ministry and Turkey in projects conducted by international organizations such as OECD and the UN.
Could you tell us about yourself? How has your career taken shape so far?
I was born in Ankara in 1978. I attended Yükseliş Private School through elementary, middle and high school. I graduated from Ankara University Faculty of Political Science with a degree in Business Administration in 1999. I started to work as an junior expert at İş Bank. Since Turkey joined the Customs Union when I started university “the European Union” was the field I wanted to work on both during and after my studies. So I wanted to build my career on the European Union which is a subject more dynamic and open to self-development, instead of the banking sector. I started working as a European Union assistant expert at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in 2001. I got the opportunity to gain expertise on the enterprise and industrial policies as a European Union Junior Expert and I was assigned as European Union expert after finishing my dissertation on “the European Union SME Policies and Works Conducted in Turkey within this Framework” in 2004. I got my Master’s degree via Jean Monnet Scholarship in the European School of Economics in Italy in 2005. After returning to Turkey, I carried on working as a European Union expert at the Ministry and taking part as a key actor in the harmonization process on enterprise and industrial policies with the European Union. I was assigned the Head of the Department after the Ministry was restructured as the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology in 2011. Since then, I have been working as the head of the Enterprise and Industrial Policy Department, following the EU policy and programs on the enterprise and industrial policies and making sure that our Ministry is represented in the works conducted by international organizations such as the OECD and the UN.
Which institution were you working or studying at when you got the Jean Monnet scholarship? Which year?
Getting my Master’s degree abroad was my biggest dream when I was a student. I fulfilled my wish via Jean Monnet Scholarship in 2005 after I was assigned as a European Union expert in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (now the Ministry, Industry and Technology).
Which university did you attend via Jean Monnet scholarship program? What did you work on as a Jean Monnet scholar?
I did my Master’s at the European School of Economics in Italy via Jean Monnet scholarship program. The European School of Economics is accredited by Buckingham University in England. I finished my MA in European Integration as a Jean Monnet scholar; however, since I chose Chapter 20 – Enterprise and Industrial Policy as my field of study, I took some classes from the Business Administration department as well.
How has Jean Monnet scholarship program affected your career after you returned to Turkey?
After I returned to Turkey, I have continued to work as a European Union Expert in the Ministry. Having my educational background on enterprise and industry and especially on SMEs as a Jean Monnet scholar, helped me specialize on the subject. So I had the opportunity to follow the works of the Ministry and other institutions and organizations, and to take part in building the opinion of the Ministry. With my Master’s degree, I have also started to teach “Small Business Management” class about theoretical and practical information on SMEs at the Business Administration department in Çankaya University. I have been working as a part time teaching assistant since 2008 and I have started to work on my PhD on Business Administration this year. Consequently, I have set a goal to sustain with my career the academic adventure I started with Jean Monnet.
How has Jean Monnet scholarship program changed your view of the European Union?
As a business administration graduate and a European Union expert, I have always thought positively of the European Union. The EU provides significant opportunities both for Turkey as a candidate country and for the businesses and SMEs benefiting from the Customs Union agreement. As a Jean Monnet scholar and a bureaucrat working on the European Union, I think it is important to take notice of and follow the principles and rules of the EU.
What would you like to advice to Jean Monnet scholarship applicants?
I advise my colleagues at the Ministry and also my students to apply for the Jean Monnet Scholarship. I sincerely believe that spending a year in a European Union member state with the Jean Monnet scholarship will be a memorable and rewarding experience for all scholars. My advice to the scholarship applicants is to have comprehensive knowledge of the EU principles and policies in the Chapters they are interested in so that they can have a leading role in the studies which needs to be done in our country in those fields.