İrem Yücesoy, Jean Monnet Scholarship Holder

Can you talk a little bit about yourself? Who is İrem Yücesoy?

I graduated from Eskişehir Osmangazi University, Department of Civil Engineering. After working in the sector for about three years, SHGM was going to hire two civil engineers. As a result of my application, I became one of the two civil engineers to be recruited by the General Directorate of Civil Aviation. I worked in the airport office for almost two years. We worked on issues that require engineering knowledge, such as airport runway surface conditions, and airport design. When we went to our audits, our primary focus was aviation safety and I wanted to improve myself in this regard.

A letter came to our institution from the Jean Monnet coordination team regarding the Jean Monnet scholarship program, which I knew about before but had not applied to before.  More quotas are provided as public employees are the people who can be directly involved in legislation management studies and they are the people who can be involved in the European Union studies and legislation and bring their knowledge directly to the country.

I applied with permission from my institution and entered a three to four-month working process.  As a result, I was awarded the scholarship. Since my focus has always been to ensure safety, I applied to the Aviation Safety Management Master Program and was accepted. After receiving acceptance from the aviation university ENAC in France, I made my choice and decided to study at ENAC. After 6 months of theoretical training, I joined the 1-year EUROCONTROL Safety Management Traineeship program. I had very good experiences and now I am working in the Air Navigation Department of my institution.

Did you have any overseas experience before applying for the Jean Monnet scholarship?

When I was in high school, I went to Italy with the Comenius exchange program. I had the experience of living abroad during that time. Of course, in high school, you may not be very aware of some things. It was a good adventure back then and I thought it was over. After graduating from school, I always had a certification program abroad or a master’s degree in order to experience different things. Therefore, when such a chance came my way, I wanted to apply and I succeeded.

Can you tell us about the Jean Monnet scholarship application process?

First of all, I believe that the more young people there are, new graduates, and people who have a desire for this subject, the more useful it will be. Because the Jean Monnet scholarship program is a program that has been given for a long time, but many people are not even aware of it.  The Jean MA program is one that especially senior university students and graduate students can apply to, not only public employees. A very valuable scholarship program, when you compare it with other scholarship programs in Türkiye, it may actually be the first scholarship program that provides the best conditions.

I would like to give a brief summary of Jean Monnet. Since Türkiye is a candidate country of the European Union, Türkiye is expected to make arrangements in accordance with EU legislation within the framework of the legislation. We are trying to make our legislation appropriate in the current process. Within the scope of the European Union, EASA produces very good regulations.  There is an effort to bring legislation in Türkiye in line with these regulations, but they are not yet fully implemented.

The Jean Monnet scholarship program is in a specific subject, the field you study in, generally, it takes place in the form of accelerating the EU harmonization process by getting accepted by a university in Europe and doing an internship, study, research, graduate program there for a year and transferring the information you learned to the relevant institutions in Türkiye.

There are many sections, I applied from Section 14, Transport Policy. There are some expected requirements regarding the application process (if not changed). If you are applying as a senior university student, your grade point average is expected to be 3.00. You need to have a minimum score of 6.5 from IELTS (You can find the required scores from other language exams on the Jean Monnet website). After graduation, if your average is not 3.00, you cannot apply directly. There is a 2 year minimum requirement working in the sector. If you are a public employee and a graduate student, you can apply.

At the end of your application, after checking that you meet the requirements, a letter comes. In the letter, it states that you are eligible to take the exam. To summarize the exam, they usually always ask four questions. Two of them expect you to know detailed information about Türkiye’s integration process and position regarding the topic you applied for. For example, since I applied from the Transport Policy title, the question I encountered was as follows:

  • Your school fee
  • Your monthly living expenses
  • Visa costs and all your expenses are covered

You have won a scholarship to study at ENAC, one of the best aviation schools in Europe. As someone who has been educated at ENAC, can we get your observations and thoughts about this school?

First of all, ENAC has a very nice campus in Toulouse, in Southern France. They compete with Cranfield University in England. Since the UK is not currently an EU member, we can say that ENAC is the best aviation school in Europe. I think that one of the most important features of ENAC is; Instructors who teach at ENAC can be senior executives working in the sector themselves (for example, a senior executive at Air France). You can ask for examples from real events. Another important point is that you meet this person, and you gain a great benefit in terms of networking. Not just the managers, the experts at Air France; Executives from the French Civil Aviation Authority, members of the French Accident-Crime Committee, senior executives from EASA, that is people who are experts in the subject of your course, draw experience from the sector and bring them to you as instructors. You spend a week or two with those people. You eat, drink coffee, study, and study for exams. The second important feature of ENAC is the career days event (it was a bit negatively affected due to pandemic conditions, but I think they will bring it back). For example, if you are a master’s student, you might not know what to do or where you will be after your master’s education is over. The career days event is held with the participation of officials (human resources, technical department experts) of companies such as Air France and Airbus. Students develop their networks by communicating one-on-one. We can say that preparations are made here for your internship the next semester.

Apart from these, ENAC is a school where you can get a pilot’s license. It also has an agreement with China. One of its important features is that it offers a training program in which you can specialize in any field you want by dividing specific topics in the field of aviation (such as Aviation Safety Management, Airline Management, Airport Management, and Air Traffic Management).

As far as we know, you have worked in many fields at ENAC. Can you talk about these fields of work?

The program I am involved in is Safety Management in the Aviation-Advanced Master Program. In the Advanced Program, 6 months of theory and 6 months of practice (internship) take place.

You start with general topics such as finance in aviation, and the development of safety in aviation. Based on the four components of SMS (Safety Management Systems), it focuses on how SMS should be implemented in an airport office, air traffic management office or maintenance operation. In addition, we had training on how to write the SSP (State Safety Program) and what its content should be. Written and oral exams are also available during the theoretical training process.

In the second semester of the program, you complete your internship as an intern in a company on a subject related to aviation safety. Except in important cases, voluntary reporting is very rare, around the world. People will be more comfortable with voluntary reporting if people are reassured about reporting within a “just culture”. Because concerns such as friendship relations and fear of losing one’s job directly affect this process. We were also working in this area. To give an example, the Swiss Aviation Authority has made a legal regulation on this issue. It has made a detailed regulation stating whether the behavior is a violation or a mistake, and you can even report yourself because you are sure that nothing will happen to you if you make a mistake.

As we know, you gained the right to an internship at EUROCONTROL in the second half of your education, can you tell us about your experience?

Actually, I signed up with another company for an internship. At the last moment, I got accepted by EUROCONTROL and I was very excited. The name of the program I accepted was the Safety Management Traineeship. Also, I have to mention that in order to do an internship at EUROCONTROL, you must be a citizen of a EUROCONTROL member country. Türkiye has been a member state of EUROCONTROL for a long time, so Turkish students can do internships at EUROCONTROL without winning a scholarship such as a Jean Monnet scholarship. You can do an internship at ICAO, EUROCONTROL. Unfortunately, these possibilities are not very well known in Türkiye. I strongly recommend that you to follow them.

During my internship, we worked on the development and analysis of an incident reporting system and an application used. There is also the concept called “just culture” and unfortunately, we cannot get over this issue very well in the world. We need a lot of data to improve safety. Therefore, our expectation is that they report everything they see to us.

What can be learned from Türkiye ENAC on aviation safety training?

Türkiye is doing a really good job in aviation. In fact, we are in a position to give lessons to many countries. In Europe, France has reached a very different dimension in terms of aviation because the organizational structure in Europe is more developed. This is not a comparison between ENAC and universities in Türkiye, but a general organizational comparison. I think that the organizational component should be developed in Türkiye. However, I believe human resources need some improvement. Türkiye is a country that has made a name for itself in aviation, but specializing in a subject only takes place during the thesis writing process. Therefore, I recommend our universities specialize in various fields of aviation education.

Türkiye has the necessary resources and vision on these issues, but it needs some time, because there certainly are very valuable academics and very valuable people in the sector and I think we will see more specialized fields in the future.

If you could go back to the Master’s and Internship periods, is there anything you would do differently?

To be honest, you can’t believe it! When we started the ENAC 2019-2020 term, the first day of school was the graduation day of the previous term (2018-2019). Graduates spared an hour for us. They gave very valuable information about the lessons and the next process and gave advice. There, too, a graduate student did an internship at EUROCONTROL and we all envied it. The best for me was my internship at EUROCONTROL and I completed it. So there’s really nothing I can say I would do differently. Likewise, ENAC was a good choice for me. Maybe I can only say this; I wish I had met more people. With the instructors and people in the department. The network is really important, the aviation world is very small, I advise young people to approach it the same way. Let them meet as many people as they can. They can also connect with me via LinkedIn. Do not hesitate to contact us, you will not lose anything by trying. Not necessarily for your benefit or to get a job, but to learn something, friendship, anything.

What would be your advice to young aviation students and enthusiasts?

First of all, I want everyone to be optimistic. Unfortunately, we experienced a terrible pandemic that happens once in a century. Of course, the most affected sector was aviation. When I talk to many recent graduates, they look very hopeless. However, do not be hopeless, the aviation industry is a sector that can rapidily recover even if it enters a rapid collapse process. Don’t be afraid to work while studying. If you can work part-time as a ground handling personnel, go do it. I recommend all international organizations that Türkiye is a member of, actively follow up on job postings and internship program announcements. My door is open to anyone who works in the industry, for example, who wants to contact me as an authority worker. Be open about connecting with people, be fearless, be enthusiastic, and be enterprising. If you have a certain infrastructure and when you want, you will always be open to aviation. There is a very good aviation industry in Türkiye. This industry will need a lot of human resources. Turkish Airlines is the airline that flies to the most destinations in the world, the airline with the largest network, never forget that.

Finally, do you have anything to add?

I just want to emphasize again; Whatever I can do, I will share all kinds of information with new graduates, there will be guidance, if you are preparing for the Jean Monnet scholarship program exam, if you have written an essay, and you want to get my opinion, I will be happy to help. I say this very heartily.

Aviation is a sector that will recover, develop and grow. I believe you will all do great things.