While a typical education creates professionals, it’s an experiential education that shapes students into leaders — a fact Avans University of Applied Sciences knows best. Here, education isn’t confined to lecture halls; it thrives in real-world settings. Students are often immersed in small-scale projects and problem-based scenarios. Every lesson here is a stepping stone towards gaining more tangible skills and knowledge.
The faculty spearheading these sessions, a diverse assembly of industry experts and scholars, are dedicated to integrating the latest industry developments into their courses. Many of them are renowned researchers who love collaborating with students to engage in hands-on, practice-oriented research for companies, governments, and social organisations. Their findings are then fed back into the modules they lead, further ensuring curricula remain as dynamic as the industries they serve. With all of this in mind, it’s easy to understand why Avans graduates don’t just step into industries, they redefine them.
Ceyda Kablan has always had a passion for travelling abroad and learning about new cultures and languages. When choosing a university, she looked for one that would broaden her marketing knowledge and business network. Therefore, the International Business programme seemed like the ideal fit for her aspirations.
Thanks to the programme, Kablan was able to hone her interests and discover the facets of professional life that resonated most with her. At the same time, Avans’s distinctive approach, emphasising initiative, teamwork, and a strong entrepreneurial spirit, equipped her with invaluable skills. “Besides learning about the basics of international business, in line with marketing, sales, finance and foreign languages, I remember vividly how my teachers encouraged all of us to start a LinkedIn account and build our own business network,” she says.
“Thanks to Avans and the network I built during my studies, I was able to complete multiple internships within international and multinational companies abroad. This enabled me to work with people from many countries, discover and learn about different industries, and helped expand my network even more.”
Upon graduating, Kablan flexed her newfound skills as a marketing and sales specialist, but it wasn’t long until she began craving to be her own boss. ‘’The desire for complete freedom to combine my creative skills with marketing grew more and more every day,” she says. Bolstered by her Avans education, she embarked on the path of entrepreneurship, founding Zoki Studio, her very own marketing and design venture. More recently, alongside an Avans classmate, she launched Lumière Event Styling, bringing a touch of magic to events. “Our goal is to be ambitious in what we do, and more importantly, have fun in what we do,” enthuses the graduate.
Marvin Frömming, 27, grew up in a small village close to Berlin. Drawn by its global, multicultural outlook, he joined the International Business programme. Today, he’s a data and analytics consultant performing a broad range of tasks well – something he credits Avans for. “Much of my work is understanding what the client needs – and that might not always be what they say they want,” he says. “Since IB taught me the basics of finance, marketing, sales and purchasing, I’m much better at ‘speaking my client’s language’ and can ultimately create better data products and services for them.”
This includes helping one of Germany’s biggest online retailers reduce the number of returned products from getting destroyed or burnt, which ultimately avoids unnecessary CO2 emissions for production and transportation. “Our team was responsible for bringing data from various systems together – think about orders, logistics, product data, customer reviews, and so on,” he says. “Is a certain supplier’s product quality continuously meeting their expectations? How have return rates developed and why? These are all hugely relevant questions for the business, and now they can be answered with a few clicks. And with AI, we can move even further and make predictions about returns.”
Frömming believes two skills he gained in Avans are instrumental to his success today: empathy and proactivity. “Empathy is so important in the workplace; I would even go as far as to say that most workplace conflicts stem from a lack of empathy,” he says. “Even the best communication strategy or escalation to your superior will fail sometimes. Now I try to focus instead on the people around me who bring in their own ideas, seek the opinion of others and are genuinely interested in developing the project, the team and themselves. You can learn so much from them.”
Hailing from Mexico, Karime Mojica was instantly drawn to the Environmental Science for Sustainability, Ecosystems and Technology programme. She knew its broad curriculum and the university’s accessible, accommodating lecturers could bring her interdisciplinary aspirations to life. True enough, its emphasis on international exposure and the invaluable connections she forged during her degree further enriched her experience. Initially planning to transfer to a research university after a year, her experience at Avans convinced her to stay instead.
Today, as a part of DBG Bio Energy, a scale-up company revolutionising the recycling of paper sludge into biofuels and fertiliser, Mojica draws upon the interdisciplinary experiences she gained at Avans. Her role as an Energy & Environmental Specialist is dynamic and demanding, requiring quick thinking and adaptable problem-solving. “Their purpose is in line with my values and directs me towards the contributions I want to make in this world,” she says.
Recently, Mojica co-founded The Amplifiers Collective, a platform for anyone to share their authentic talents, free from imposter syndrome or self-doubt. Through workshops and experiences, Mojica and her partner hope to inspire both participants and facilitators to embrace their unique abilities. Unsurprisingly, tickets to their first workshop sold out quickly. “I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t work in teams and take on such diverse professional experiments as a student,” she says. “Avans constantly got me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to keep saying ‘yes’ to different things.
Lene Haas, from Southern Germany, spends her days as a marketing manager in a company manufacturing and selling mountain bike components. Her role requires her to see the bigger picture – to know and understand what each department does and how they intersect with one another. Avans trained her well for this – plus a bevy of other important skills. “I also learned a lot about project management, how to handle deadlines, how to work in groups and how to actually learn new things which comes in handy on a daily basis,” she says.
These are practical, powerful skills – and Haas, a nature and camping enthusiast, leverages them for her startup “MyCabin.” In many European countries, wildcamping is illegal. Yet, with the boom in camping, scores of people want to sleep under the stars and enjoy sunsets with their new tents and campervans. Haas and her friend saw the solution to his. “There are many landowners in rural regions, who have plenty of unused ground and are happy to share it with some campers for one or two nights. It’s mostly farmers who were interested in hosting campers, but also families, communities or other people who have a piece of land, a small hut or a simple shelter,” she says. “So, we decided to build a digital platform to match demand and supply, kind of like an AirBnB for close-to nature accommodations.”
As with any startups, challenges were plenty, from financing to long nights in office. During those tough times, Haas would think back to her participation in NIBS, an international case study competition and see how much she’s grown since. “I developed lots of important skills such as time management, presentation skills and persuasiveness, teamwork (under extreme time pressure), analytical skills and to think,” she says. “I really appreciate the personal connection to some of the teachers, who shaped me in ways they don’t even know about nor intended to.”
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