August 5, 2019, by James Jupe

Why your ‘hidden’ skills as a language student will take you far

By Julie Callaghan, Senior Careers Adviser

Many employers seek candidates with a ‘global’ or ‘international’ outlook so language students are highly desirable candidates in the workplace. Being competent in at least one other language is a very specific skill to have, and is recognised in the workplace. Through time spent abroad you will have developed greater cultural awareness, an ability to adapt to new environments and a broader perspective of the world.

What skills have I developed?

Don’t underestimate all of the ‘hidden’ skills you will have acquired studying modern languages – they are extremely transferable to a wide range of sectors and careers. You will have learnt how to read, speak, write and understand one or more foreign language(s) as well as shown a high level of accuracy and attention to detail.

Communication will be one of your strong points and through your studies you will know how to work independently and as part of a team. Not only will you be comfortable in an academic setting but your presentational skills will also have developed, which means you can both lead and participate in discussions.

After I graduate, what next?

Before you get set on your career path you need to decide if you actually want a job in languages or if you’re seeking a different type of role. If you’re interested in translation or interpreting, you can work for The Civil Service and United Nations among others who offer programmes and graduate placement schemes. Unitemps also offer part-time jobs in translation throughout the year so make sure that you check back regularly.

If you’re looking for a role outside of languages, there are many opportunities within business, sales, marketing, export, travel and tourism, freight forwarding, charities, management and finance.

The good news is you’re not short of choices and employers will welcome your knowledge of other languages.

How can I give myself the edge?

It is true to say that many linguists take time to find their career of choice. Often this is because they are saving up to do a postgraduate course or planning to travel, which is highly sought after by employers. Another reason might be because you have to work your way up through an organisation – this is especially the case in publishing, the creative industries and heritage. If you’re looking for a career in a business setting, gaining some experience and increasing your commercial awareness is desirable.

To give yourself a head start while at University check out our extensive careers programme featuring sessions covering careers in publishing and journalism, business, law and many more. These are excellent chances to find out more about your future career interests.

You may also try the Nottingham Advantage Award and try a specific module for linguists as well as one for your year abroad.

Finally, look into the career profiles on Prospects which has useful information for every career sector. The more informed you are about your career, the better.

If you’re interested in finding out what opportunities there are for you book an appointment and meet with a careers adviser.

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