From Erasmus and Assistantships to Project Management: Languages and Opportunities

Clare Condy graduated with a BA Hons in International Management with European Languages and Society in 2015 and we’re delighted to get a chance to post this article on both her memories of studying Languages at Stirling and where life after graduation has taken her:

2016-clare-condy-graduation“I graduated from Stirling just over a year and a half ago now, with a degree in International Management with French and Spanish. That day feels like just yesterday, it’s only now that I have been asked to write about what I have done since that I have taken some time to think back and suddenly Stirling actually feels like it was a long time ago.

So, what do you do after graduating? This is the question that starts to become that little bit more daunting as the years at university progress. Suddenly you must start to put together a plan, a plan of how to step out of the comforts and familiarity of student life and into an unknown ‘adult’ world.

Today I am living in Liverpool, working as a Project Manager with Amey as part of their Management Graduate Programme. Here is what happened between university and now. So, let’s rewind…

Studying two languages with business provided me with what I can only explain as a well-rounded degree. I loved the language components of my course; this part of my degree was what I really felt passionate about. Ever since I was in primary school, from the moment French was first introduced to me, the thought of learning a new language excited me, and it still does. So, choosing to study French and Spanish at university was an easy decision. The business part of my degree allowed me to put concepts we had discussed in French or Spanish classes into real business examples. Due to this, I was really able to get a valuable insight into each of my courses, no matter how different they were from each other.

Due to studying two languages, I had the opportunity to live in both France and Spain. I chose to do the British Council Language Assistant programme in France, and subsequently carried out my Erasmus in Spain. Both of these were fantastic experiences that, as cheesy as it may sound, really changed me as a person: I gained more confidence, improved my language skills and became more aware of other cultures, to name a few! After spending a total of 18 months abroad during my degree, I knew for sure that the country hopping life was soon becoming my aspiration for when university finished. I returned each time with a new bout of the want to travel and I soon started to picture myself more and more living in France or Spain or any other European country. So, I returned after my Erasmus to complete my final year with a feeling of satisfaction that I now had an idea of what I wanted after graduating.

During 4th year we were made aware that applying for the British Council Language Assistant Programme was an option. I didn’t have to think twice, my way back to France was here. A relatively easy application was all it would take to potentially have another go at being a Language Assistant. I found out further into the year that I had been accepted, and been offered my first choice of Strasbourg. I was so relieved, relieved to have a plan, and to be able to fully focus on final year rather than looking for jobs. I just had to wait until after the summer!

When I arrived in Strasbourg I was overwhelmed with its beauty. The half-timbered houses, the little beer taverns, the canals and its bridges were like nowhere I had ever lived before. As I lived in Paris last time round, I really was looking forward to seeing a whole other side of France. And that is exactly what I saw! I found it to be a really interesting place, with its German influence and the Alsatian culture and language; at times it didn’t feel relatable to France at all! I actually lived in one of the traditional houses in the centre of town which added to the experience of understanding the culture and the way of life in this town.

2016-clare-condy-strasbourgI worked between two high schools, in the north of Strasbourg in a town called Haguenau. The teaching side of things honestly did not go how I planned it would. I always saw teaching as a way to travel and to live in other countries, and maybe I didn’t actually consider the job for what it really was and wanted the lifestyle that came with teaching rather than actually the job itself. I realised only a few weeks into my new role that I no longer saw myself as being a teacher in the long term. But it being so early on, I hoped that feeling would pass.

Christmas in Strasbourg was amazing, I have never seen so much effort put into lights, markets, food stalls, everything revolved around it. The city lit up and the crowds filled the streets.

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Later on in the year, around February/March time I started to question whether I wanted to continue living away from home or not. As this was the third time trying to set up a life in a foreign country, the thought of home was, for the first time, seeming to be more and more attractive. I was tired of not really having any close friends around me or family, and the feeling of not being settled was now, ironically, giving me itchy feet. Maybe it was due to the fact that I had moved around for the last few years, or because the other times had always been for short periods of time, and this time was more of a potential permanent move away from Scotland, or maybe because I was not enjoying being a teacher any more. I missed the feeling of being challenged. Going from an intense final year at university, to a job that was no longer satisfying me made me realise that I missed that feeling. Whatever it was, it was unsettling, and I decided in the end that I wanted to be closer to home and to look for a job in the UK.

2016-clare-condy-liverpoolOnly a couple of months passed at home before I was offered my position that I am in now with Amey. It is a two year programme which is rotational throughout the UK. My first placement, which I am on now, is in Liverpool as a Project Manager. I am honestly so pleased with my new job and with my decision to come back home. I was looking for a challenge and I definitely have found that in this role!

Having that time in France after graduating gave me the time I needed to realise what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be. I can now understand that even though you may feel like you know yourself and know what you want from life, you never know when those feelings will change as experiences will always change us and make us learn more about ourselves.

I have to say a final word to Stirling. My time at university was everything I could have ever wished it to be. From the friends I have met there, the beautiful campus and the inspiring teachers; it will always be a home for me.”

Many thanks to Clare for this blog post and all good wishes for the future. We look forward to more updates in due course!

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