Tag: Internships

Further tales from former students

Having managed to post articles about this year’s finalists and their plans, and to catch up with some of last year’s graduates, I thought I’d try an experiment and see whether I could get updates from students who graduated further back. Thinking that I’d maybe get one or two responses, it’s been fantastic to switch on email over the past little while and to see more and more emails from graduates from 3, 4, 5… years ago landing in my inbox. I’ve pulled together information from all the messages I’ve had so far here in this blog post and some of this will also link up with longer posts, as and when I get them online. As ever, it’s great to see the variety of paths taken by our graduates – not to mention the collective distances covered!! – and it really has been great to get a chance to catch up like this.

Where to start? It’s hard to decide so, in no particular order…

Yasmin, who graduated with a BA(Hons) in French and Spanish in 2014 has, since then, successfully completed two British Council English Language Assistantships in different regions of France and is now living and working in Australia, as well as fitting in a good deal of travel around South-East Asia. There’s more on Yasmin’s experiences and travels here! Katja, who graduated in 2016 on our International Management with European Languages and Society programme, is now working on an EU-internship in Brussels. Iida, who also graduated in 2016 but with a BA(Hons) in French and Human Resource Management, completed a Masters at Maastricht University last year and is now living and working in Helsinki: ‘I first got a job at Fortum, Finland’s biggest energy company and then in April moved companies to Unisport, as I got a permanent position as an administrative coordinator. Though my tasks and responsibilities are diverse, sadly I don’t really use French in my current position. I have, however, benefited from my second major at Stirling, namely HR, as well as some of the minors I took like marketing and business management. Additionally, I have to say, cultural studies obviously give you an edge on understanding and working within a global/multicultural company so in that sense having studied French has been useful for me in work life as well!’

Going a little further back, Dawn graduated in 2011 with a BA(Hons) in French and Spanish and, since then, has spent time teaching English in Spain, working in a local authority education department and, most recently, working for a third sector employer which helps people with disabilities find and retain paid employment. More about Dawn’s experiences since graduating here! Susan, who graduated back in 2011 like Dawn, also in French and Spanish, is now teaching English in Guatemala (more here!) and Jana, who graduated a little more recently (in 2014) with a BA(Hons) in French, has recently completed an MSc in Language Teaching at Edinburgh University and feels that the combination of Single Honours French at Stirling and the Edinburgh MSc have helped her to ‘very fulfilling jobs interpreting and providing study support to adult students with dyslexia.’

Then there’s Jonny who graduated in 2012 with BA(Hons) in French and Global Cinema and who has been working as a secondary school French teacher but is about to leave the profession to take up a post with the charity Sense Scotland next month. And Jennifer who graduated with a BA(Hons) in 2016 in French and Spanish and who first spent a year living and working in Vigo, Galicia through the British Council programme in order to determine whether she wanted to pursue teaching as a career: ‘It was a fun and challenging year and even though I decided that teaching is not for me, it was an excellent learning curve and allowed me to figure out the next step on my career path. In September, I will be graduating with a Masters in Translation Studies at the University of Glasgow. I am currently working on my dissertation, so I haven’t had a huge amount of time to fully consider my options, but I am hoping to have a clearer idea by September. In the meantime, I have applied for a traineeship as an Editor/Translator at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. If unsuccessful, I would consider reapplying next year because it sounds like an excellent opportunity. I have also been accepted into the British Council programme again, but this time in the region of Valencia. My plan would be to start off my career as a freelance translator on the side, instead of doing extra private lessons. However, I am still unsure of this option. Alternatively, I would stay in Glasgow or Edinburgh and dedicate my time to translation networking and building up my personal profile as a translator – I’ve been told that the sooner, the better! This will present significant challenges, but this is my desired long-term outcome.’

And Helen who – so far – is among the ‘oldest’ graduates, ie from the cohort that graduated the furthest back, in 2010, when she successfully completed her BA(Hons) in French and who says she always looks back fondly on her time at Uni: ‘I loved the strong sense of being part of something bigger in our subject. I still genuinely believe that I had the most rounded degree experience. There aren’t many options where you can study English, politics, literature, film, history, sociology… (I could go on) AND have a fab semester abroad thrown in. I studied in Aix and gained so much from using a higher level of French and meeting people from all walks of life. I managed to make the most of my summers and worked in France every year for a few months, as a watersports instructor. After graduation I was lucky to work in three primary schools on Réunion Island, through the British Council. Wow, what an incredibly different culture shock that was!

Anyway, I now use all of these stories at school to entice the kids who ‘don’t need languages’. I am currently Director of Faculty for Languages in a high school in Preston. I love being able to use my French and Spanish daily while working with young people. I also provide whole school training and I play a key role in the county’s language teachers network. I love the variety of work and no two days are ever the same. Somewhere in between I now have three children and we spend six weeks in France every year (my husband is also a teacher).’

As ever, many thanks to everyone who has got back in touch and sent updates. We really do like to get a chance to know where people end up after they graduate! And if you happen to be reading this as a French at Stirling graduate (from whichever year) and fancy sending an email, please do get in touch.

 

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‘Making life-long friends from all over the world is something I’d never have done if I hadn’t studied languages’

As part of the process of catching up with recent-ish graduates, it was lovely to get this update from Dawn who graduated back in 2011 with a BA(Hons) in French and Spanish which gives a great sense of the range of avenues down which our graduates travel once they finish their studies with us:

‘The summer after graduation I spent in Barcelona doing a six-week intensive CELTA course to qualify me to teach English as a foreign language all over the world. This is an internationally recognised qualification and can be taken at various locations in Scotland if you want to study closer to home. After my CELTA course finished I stayed in Barcelona for about a year and a half teaching English in private language schools to adults and doing after school tutoring.

I returned to Scotland and I got a graduate internship working with the local authority’s educational department. The role given to each of the interns matched with our background, interests and future career goals. My role was to develop the teaching of modern languages within primary schools. I was delighted! I taught some Spanish in schools, worked with pupils whose first language wasn’t English and acted as a mentor for foreign language assistants coming from abroad. I particularly enjoyed being a mentor due to having been a language assistant in France during my studies.

I moved to Glasgow a couple of years ago and I currently work for a third sector organisation which ultimately helps people with disabilities and health conditions to find and retain paid employment. I am a Networks Development Officer with responsibility for the west of Scotland. Although I am not directly using my language skills in this job, I am constantly using the skills I gained from my degree. The writing of a dissertation taught me how to accurately conduct research from various sources, collate information and present it in a way that someone with no knowledge of the subject would understand. This skill has been replicated in my job on multiple occasions.

Additionally, studying languages makes you a very clear communicator; you consider your word choice and phrasing before speaking. This is a transferable skill that has proved very important when speaking with clients who have communication difficulties or a learning disability.

Although I don’t use French and Spanish in my job I keep them alive by speaking with friends I made in Spain when I did Erasmus or friends in France when I was a language assistant. I read international magazines online and I still have a passion for foreign cinema. I look back on my time at Stirling University with very fond memories. I am grateful for the opportunities the degree gave me; working in France for a year and studying in Spain and making life-long friends from all over the world is something I’d never have done if I hadn’t studied languages at Stirling. Thank you!’

Many, many thanks to Dawn for taking the time to send this update and we look forward to more updates over the years ahead.

Camaraderie and the price of croissants!

Following on from Stuart’s update earlier, another follow-up post here from Eilidh Wynd who has just finished her 2nd year on the BA Hons in International Management with European Languages and Society:

‘2 years of Stirling University, where have you gone? It doesn’t feel so long ago that I last posted for the blog, saying how excited I was for my future time in the languages department and what I was looking forward to. Now, it’s 18 months on, older and wiser (apparently), I have reached the half way stage in my degree. It has been a tough but rewarding journey, so I thought I would update you on how the course has been and what adventures are yet to come.

Naturally, when studying any language, you have grammar classes. I would like to personally thank Jean-Michel for putting up with us in these classes. Whether it’s supporting us through imperfect subjunctive-based meltdowns or praising us when we finally grasp the difference between a direct and indirect object pronoun, he has been a rock for all of us on the course and his dedication to us reflects the whole teaching staff within the French department.

Alongside grammar, a personal highlight has been the weekly speaking sessions. With topics ranging from ‘are ghosts real’ to the influence of the media on young people, we have covered a range of issues. These classes are only made more enjoyable by the professors who never fail to entertain us with a story or two, and regularly give us handy tips for when we go abroad.

Finally, we have our culture classes where we discover more about past and present France. I have found these very insightful and I now have a much deeper understanding of the French way of life and their underlying morals. Through studying a variety of films and books, we have all managed to identify the differences between Scotland and France and understand France’s culture better.

2018 Eilidh Wynd Year 2 Pic II May18An important factor I want to highlight in this post is the camaraderie within the French module. Unlike modules such as business or sports studies, French is much smaller so there is a massive feeling of team work and community. Through this module, I have met some of my closest friends and had many a lunch or coffee break with class mates to discuss very important French issues…such as “do you think croissants are more expensive or cheaper in France than here?” I personally feel that’s an important issue anyway!

Due to studying both French and Spanish, I must complete time in both countries. Since I decided I would go to Spain for my semester abroad next year, I have successfully been accepted to do a 3-week internship at La Giraudière in Bordeaux at the end of August. I am very excited for this adventure where I will work and live amongst locals, experience living in a foreign country and, of course, sample some of the local delicacies.

2018 Eilidh Wynd Year 2 Pic I May18So, that’s a wrap from me. Despite, snow, strikes and stress, myself and everyone on the French course believe we are on the best module. Here’s to the next two years and hopefully we can progress through them as well as we have progressed through the previous years. I would like to end on a quote (I am famous for loving a good quote) which I believe represents the French module and the true co-operation and encouragement between students; “Les amis: une famille dont on a choisi les membres”- Alphonse Karr. Over and out x’

Many thanks to Eilidh for taking the time to send us this update and we’re looking forward to hearing how the internship goes later in the Summer – all the best for it!

 

“Thanks to my French degree, I am lucky enough to have a world of possibilities in front of me”

Just before the blog takes a little break for a couple of weeks, two great articles for you. The first one here is by Alex Hill who just graduated with his BA Hons in French in June and has gone straight from graduation to internship, with career plans beyond that. The second article is by Jeanne Nozahic who has been away in Spain for her Semester Abroad and who has been reflecting on the experience generally but also in particular about what her success at obtaining a Stevenson Scholarship meant for her. Alex first…:

“A few days ago, I was lucky enough to receive an email from Cristina asking if I’d like to share a few thoughts on my time doing French at Stirling and my plans for the future, which I then realised I had accidently ignored for more than a week due to being so busy! This got me thinking to myself about how time has flown by since finishing my degree; as I write this it’s 28 days since my graduation (2.1, get in!) and 103 since the end of a coffee-fuelled, sleep-deprived few months spent balancing writing a dissertation on French politics whilst also trying to get my head round the art of translation.

2017 Alex Hill Dissertation Picture
Dissertation Hand-in

 

Since then it’s been all go, having started an internship with Oxford-based triathlon events company IRONMAN UK in the Operations team in early May; a job which saw me head over to France a few days in to get a taste of what to expect on the job. As I should have expected, I was designated the role of interpreter (read: food order-er), and, after ordering a few sandwiches and coffees for lunch, I was greeted with high fives and comments regarding how awesome it was that I was able to speak French. That’s one of the perks of being able to speak a foreign language – it’s a skill not many people have so it gives you the chance to show off and feel smug every once in a while!

Joking aside, studying a French degree really is one of the most useful and coolest things I have ever done. When I first decided to study French at university, it was a case of “it’ll be cool to say I’m fluent, plus I can probably get a job as a teacher or translator afterwards”. What I have discovered in the last four years is that it is worth so much more than that; you develop oral and written communication skills to an incredibly high standard, something highly regarded by employers and essential not only from a working perspective but also in life in general. As well as this, you strengthen your critical, analytical and research skills from studying French literature and get to put this to the test in engaging and interesting class discussions. These skills are crucial in almost every job market, which explains why French graduates not only get jobs as translators and teachers, but in business, journalism and diplomacy amongst other domains. Furthermore, French gives you an understanding of (political, social and economic) culture in a range of francophone countries. It’s not only francophone countries this will prove useful in; if you can learn French you can learn any language! This makes you employable not only in Great Britain, but across the world, which it doesn’t take a genius to work out significantly increases your chances of finding a job.

I really believe I made the right choice coming to Stirling to study French. The campus has to be one of the most beautiful in the world, which makes looking out the library on a sunny day that little bit easier. The people are all friendly, and at the end of the day it’s good fun and everything you need is nearby. The French course itself is run by a dedicated team of lecturers, who put in a great deal of time to make every last module exciting and appealing, resulting in a varied course that not once did I find boring. As well as this, the lecturers are always more than willing to help and provide useful answers to queries and feedback. If you are thinking of, or about to start, studying French at Stirling, I would recommend the Quebec cinema module, run by Bill Marshall, or the Francophone Detective fiction module, run by Cristina (hopefully these will still be around!).

2017 Alex Hill Perpignan Skiing

Without doubt, however, the highlight of my time at Stirling was going on my semester abroad; it’s just such a different academic experience and results in your language skills coming on more than you thought possible. It improves your ability to adapt and improves your confidence, both as a French speaker and in general. You make lifelong friends and at the end of your time away, you feel a genuine sense of pride in yourself for coping with what at one point felt like a goliath-sized task.

2017 Alex Hill USAP rugby

As for me, once I finish my internship, I will be moving back up to Stirling to start a job on the Enterprise Rent a Car Graduate Scheme as a Management Trainee. After finishing that I plan to return to Stirling to do a Master’s, followed by hopefully finding work in the investment industry. Having said that, there are a number of jobs in a variety of industries I find interesting and would like to do, and I wouldn’t mind running my own business one day. Thanks to my French degree, I am lucky enough to have a world of possibilities in front of me and I’m very excited about what the future holds. In the words of my favourite film La Haine, “Le monde est à nous” (the world is ours). Just in case you were worried that I’m not getting much chance to celebrate graduating by entering the big bad world of work straight away, I get two weeks between my internship and full-time job, during which I plan to escape somewhere sunny!

Finally, one final big thank you to everyone at the French department at Stirling and all the other staff who work so tirelessly to provide every one of us with a fantastic student experience.”

Many, many thanks to Alex for this great post, all the best for the rest of the summer (internship and holidays!) and good luck with the next steps! And yes, the Detective Fiction option is back in the Autumn…

“Languages Open Doors”: From Stirling to a Traineeship in Brussels

A little flurry of blog posts will appear over the next couple of days as various plans and projects involving staff and students in French at Stirling take shape and I’m very pleased to be able to start the ball rolling with another blog post by one of our graduates from last year. Henry Caffarena finished his BA Hons in French and Spanish this time last year and has very kindly taken the time to send us this update on where life and languages have taken him since then:

2017 Henry Caffarena photo“I have nothing but good things to say about my time studying French at Stirling. I would say that the course is both diverse and challenging as it offers an ample approach to the language itself and its cultural spread across the globe. Furthermore, I also found the course very welcoming to students with different levels. Overall, it helped me improve my French and has definitely contributed to my success in landing a traineeship at the European Commission in Brussels, Europe’s political capital where speaking French is essential.

So far, these past 2 months at Commission have been a time of learning and networking. I am working in a multicultural and multilingual environment and everyday is different and challenging. Unfortunately, I can’t go into much detail about what I do because of confidentiality clauses and boring blabla, but all in all, I am happy. Speaking languages is a massive +1 when you are applying for jobs. Recruiters know they can train people to do the job in a few weeks/months, but teaching you a language that is vital to their business? That’s a different story.

At present, I am halfway through my Traineeship and have recently been interviewing with Gartner, the information technology research and advisory company. I know what you must be thinking – take a chill pill. To be honest, it was my intention to take a little break from work after my traineeship but they were looking for graduates who spoke French and I couldn’t resist. Hopefully I will get a call with good news soon. I guess what I’m trying to say is that languages open doors and there are doors all over the world! French is a very important language spoken in many different places and there are plenty of organisations in the private and public sector in need of your skills.”

Best of luck to Henry for the Gartner interview – keep us posted! – and thanks again for taking the time to send this post.

 

Study abroad in France and land yourself a job in the wine industry… not bad!

Claire Wright has spent the past year in Strasbourg, completing the final months of her Integrated Masters in International Management and Intercultural Studies at our partner institution, the Ecole de Management in Strasbourg. Internships form an integral part of the programme and Claire has just sent us this account of her experiences of the process of securing an international internship. Some great advice here.

2016 Wright Covered Bridge

“It wasn’t until my third year of my undergraduate studies at Stirling when I realised the importance of having internship experience.

It’s true that it’s always more appealing to depart on ‘grands voyages’ all over the world during the long summer university break as opposed to confining yourself to an office environment. Honestly, that’s what I thought, and on top of that, I was terrified of the concept of applying my ‘education’ to the real business world. What if I didn’t meet the employer’s expectations? What if I then suddenly realised that all of those years spent studying were irrelevant? And worse still, what if they rejected me? Well Claire, obviously you’ll never know until you try! Besides, everybody who makes it to university has a certain level of intelligence. Sometimes you can be savvier than employees who have been in the organisation for decades, minus the experience – yet another reason why you should grab any opportunity to complete an internship.

I must admit that during my undergraduate degree I did not try hard (enough) to find internships, instead, I mostly worked part time at different points throughout the semester, travelled during the summer and did odd voluntary/ seasonal work. The truth is that I was too easily offended by the generic rejections from companies when I was applying for internship posts, which now seems stupid because it’s normal – obviously there will be healthy competition when applying for this kind of thing. A telephone interview I had in my final year of undergrad really made me realise exactly that. Why be put off? I should be even more motivated to succeed. My attitude was exactly that. I didn’t get the internship, I believe it was down to my lack of experience, but it was the furthest I had ever reached in the various interview stages. That was enough to motivate me.

2016 Wright Bateliers
Quai des Bateliers

 

When I moved to France last September, I learned that in order to graduate with my Master Grande Ecole, it was obligatory to complete an internship. The fact it was obligatory gave me the fear, but it pushed me to seriously start looking. Given I had no real ‘professional’ experience, it was particularly difficult to find one, besides, many posts were exclusively for 1st-3rd year students, which I wasn’t. Not only that, but I was looking for post abroad, where the talent pool is significantly bigger than at home, and of course, required a fluency in the language. With the pressure mounting, I started to panic. I already knew I was extremely lucky to be in the position I was in, completing a double degree with a fully funded master’s component, but I was still kicking myself for not having grabbed opportunities at the beginning of my studies.

As I mentioned, I was privileged to attend the prestigious French management school, EM Strasbourg, and even more so to be able to take advantage of their partnerships with local and global organisations. Following a trip to France’s biggest wine producer and exporter, Les Grands Chais de France, my class was asked to work in groups to create presentations which focused on various business areas. My group was given the topic ‘strategy to penetrate the Chinese market’. As an individual, I always like to be prepared, and to source background information whenever possible, so naturally I put a lot of work into the task. Little did I know, when we were presenting, the HR team were there to observe. A few weeks later I received a call inviting me for an interview, which I got. Obviously I was thrilled to find an internship position, but to find one in my chosen industry was just amazing. I guess my motivation shone through that day, I really had had a kick up the backside.

To all my fellow students, you should take this piece of advice and just try harder. It is not a question of whether you have contacts in high positions, it’s down to you. Put yourself out there and grab opportunities. If you work hard, it will be recognised and you’ll be rewarded for it. In this way, you will never tire of opportunities and options. After being offered my current position, it seemed that all of the offers came at once. That just proves that your attitude matters.”

Thanks to Claire for this article. Best of luck for the rest of your time with Les Grands Chais de France and we look forward to seeing you back in Stirling in November for graduation!

2016 Wright Montagne Sainte Victoire

Summer after Stirling

2016 Davis Life after Graduation logo April

The exam period has just started at Stirling but French at Stirling modules for final semester students are all coursework-only so our finalists are slowly realising that they’ve had their last undergraduate classes with us (though we hope to welcome some back in future years for postgrad programmes…). As that realisation gently takes shape, one of this year’s finalists, Megan Davis, who is due to graduate with a BA Hons in French and Spanish in a couple of months, has put her thoughts together for us:

“The time has come when I finally have to answer the dreaded question “So, what do you want to do after you’ve finished your degree?” Being in my fourth year, facing the sometimes (always) overwhelming graduate and job market, I now have no other option than to actually come up with something resembling a vague plan.

Thankfully, everyone teaching at Stirling has already been through this process and remember just how terrifying it can be taking your first steps into the “real world”. Because of this, everyone is on hand to give advice on what to do next and highlight any upcoming opportunities that may be of interest. These range from emails containing schools looking for “Lecteurs d’anglais” to help applying to the British Council. So I’d just like to say a quick thank you to all of our lovely tutors for all of the help along the way, it is really much appreciated!

Thanks to the advertising of future opportunities at Stirling, I have had the chance to apply to be an English Language Assistant with the British Council for the following academic year in September 2016. I am incredibly excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to hear back from the organisation to find out which school I will be placed with. Whilst being a E.L.A I will be paid an approximate of €700 a month, be given the opportunity to gain first hand experience in a classroom and promote an understanding of British culture abroad, whilst also immersing myself in the Spanish culture and language. While working with the British Council I have also applied for the Stevenson Grant to receive funding to research a topic proposed by myself. I’ll be investigating whether there is a desire for independence in the Canary Islands, and whether the reasons behind this are linked to formal education or not.

In terms of plans over the summer, I intend to stay in Stirling and was recently accepted as a volunteer with The Big Training Project in partnership with First Aid Africa. I will be a volunteer recruitment officer in the UK, representing and promoting the charities, with The Big Training Project providing personalised First Aid Training here in the UK and donating all profits to First Aid Africa. The latter charity aims to provide First Aid training in various locations across Africa, where it is needed and welcomed. It was a much welcome surprise that my interviewer is also a student at Stirling, creating an immediate bond and putting me at ease moving forward in this position with the charities.

Meanwhile, I am also applying to several internships, the majority of which are made available through the Stirling Internship Programme. The positions I have applied for thus far span across a wide range, including positions such as a PR, marketing and events intern requiring Spanish to an Archivist intern with Stirling University Retired Staff Association, all made possible through the wide range of transferable skills I’ve acquired through studying languages at Stirling.

In short, I’d like to thank everyone here at Stirling, once again, for making my four years here thoroughly enjoyable. Thank you for helping me grow both as a student and a person and for helping make the transition from student to graduate seem somewhat manageable and a whole lot less daunting!”

Thanks to Megan for this blog post and best of luck, first and foremost, for the Stevenson interview and then for life beyond Stirling!