Year abroad helped to develop my career idea

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Rachel

At college I studied French and Spanish and saw going to university as a sensible move as without a degree qualification in languages, it’s kind of an issue as to what you can achieve. I therefore chose to study modern languages at university with the idea of working in this area, but hadn’t whittled it down to exactly one option.

I chose to study at a university far away from home following my best friend but became unhappy and didn’t enjoy the experience. As a result I quit in the first year and took a year out which made me realise I was wrong to follow my friend, but also gave me much needed time and experience to be able to make the right decision.

After working for a year I enrolled on a similar course at a different university closer to home and found that it was the right course at the right place. Looking back, I am pleased about this decision and I am absolutely convinced that it made a difference to my experience and career prospects.

Whilst at university I always thought about ways of enhancing myself and my CV to try and get a head start. I worked all the way through university as a student ambassador and also had a part time job in an office of a privately owned accommodation organisation. As part of my course I spent a year abroad in France and Spain where I taught English and came back with a lot of different experiences and knowledge. I feel that this year abroad has had the biggest impact on my career prospects as it does set you apart in interviews.

I found it difficult to balance my academic work with all this work experience and felt that I sacrificed the social aspect of university but believe it has paid off now. I also went to the career and employability service at university to develop an understanding of the graduate job market and learn what employers were looking for in graduates.

I was very proactive in trying to enhance my career prospects and took advantage of what the university had to offer. I was therefore confident enough to apply for jobs in the final year and spent a lot of time doing so. This persistence paid off as I was employed two weeks after graduation in a graduate job for a big company. Despite obtaining this role, I didn’t particularly enjoy it and decided to aim for a job that I would be more satisfied in. With this in mind, I began changing my career ideas and realised that I had always had an interest in teaching especially after teaching on the year abroad.

I therefore enrolled on a PGCE course and after graduating successfully gained a Graduate Teacher job, which I am thoroughly enjoying. I believe I was successful in gaining this position as I was flexible and happy to relocate. Reflecting on my experience, I wish I had got more advice before university to help make better decisions and I would advise current students to be flexible and put the effort in.