“The Decision to Study in Mannheim Was the Best Decision I Could Have Made”

Tülay Yavuz is from Türkiye. In 2003, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in law from Yeditepe University in Istanbul. She then worked as a legal consultant for many years, before deciding to pursue a Master of Comparative Business Law (MCBL) at the University of Mannheim. In Tülay’s myUniMA story, she talks about how she decided to go back to university and what it felt like to return to the lecture room after almost twenty years as a professional lawyer.

Why did you decide to study law in the first place?

I decided to study law because I wanted to become a lawyer since I was six years old. Back then, my mother often took me to court because we had some legal disputes after my grandfather died. During this time, I saw how worried my mom was and decided to become a lawyer to help people like her.

What did you do after you had earned your bachelor’s degree?

I worked in various sectors, for example, for law firms, the automobile industry or cosmetics manufacturers.  In all these jobs, I learned to never give up and to trust myself. When I started as head of legal at a technology company in Türkiye, I only had two months to learn every regulation on renewable energy.  At first, I doubted myself, but then I learned everything I needed to know. Due to my expertise, I was poached by the Turkish subsidiary of a German company a few years later. I worked there as head of the legal department for ten years and successfully managed many court proceedings. I always liked my work but when I started studying law in Germany, a long-cherished dream came true.

How was this idea born?

By working for German companies, I often had direct contact with German colleagues. I was amazed by their structured way of working. Compared to Turkish work processes, all processes had been exactly defined and were duly recorded. It was always clear which processes had to be completed at a particular point in time. I knew I could easily do a master’s in Türkiye, but this would have been too easy for me. I wanted a challenge and decided to enroll in Mannheim, because I already got to know the region during work trips and I was interested in the university’s program. The university has a very good reputation and I liked the possibility to specialize in subfields during the program. In Türkiye, master’s programs in Law are rather general. The decision to study in Mannheim was the best decision I could have made. I quickly felt at home. It was like I had found part of my soul.

What it is like to be a student once again, with so much professional experience?

I learned a lot during the courses because I specialized in the fields which I am interested in. At the same time, I was able to contribute a lot of my experience, name examples from professional life or show differences between international legal systems which the teachers did not know yet. I got the impression that my expertise was very valuable for them and that we learned from each other. I was also very impressed by the digital infrastructure, for example that important news are shared via e-mail or that you can see all program contents online on the ILIAS platform. It goes without saying that this was very different when I began to study law in 1998. But I kept one habit: During lectures, I always wrote down my notes by hand, as I have done previously, while my fellow students used their laptops (laughs).

You moved into a residence hall to get to know the “real” life as a student. What was it like?

I shared an apartment with six other students and I felt very much at home, although at times being more than twice the age of some of them. We called our community “dormily”, based on the English terms “dorm” and “family” because we got along so well. We had a lot of parties and game nights and supported each other. One of my roommates helped me to learn German, for example. Since I finished my master’s program, I am currently looking for a place to live, but I will miss my time in the residence hall and my roommates.

What are your plans?

I would like to stay in Germany. I love that I can try so many new things and I like the German way of thinking, the rational processes and structure. At a certain age, you really need this stability and planning security (laughs). Currently, I am still working as a student assistant at the Institute of Sports. I do a lot of sports so this job suits me well. I would like to work at a German company and contribute the expertise I have gained there. I would also like to find a way to share my knowledge with younger persons, I think this would be a lot of fun.

Text: Tina Ratajczyk / August 2023