July 27, 2018, by Naomi Imms

My Graduate Journey from Nottingham to Paris

By Mike Winnington, BA Modern European Studies, graduated 2015

While at university, I swerved questions from my parents about what happens next. The idea of doing a graduate scheme didn’t particularly appeal to me, and I knew that I wanted to keep on using the languages that I studied at university. But how?

I explored several pathways in the UK, as well as jobs at the EU. Nothing appealed in particular though.

Finding my first role in France

My first role in France came through my ‘network’. I’d stayed in contact with my former sixth form French teacher since leaving school and as I approached graduation, he told me that he was moving back to his hometown Chartres to work for a school that happened to be looking for a native English-speaking teacher. Because it was a private school, they weren’t necessarily looking for someone with a teaching degree.

After much hesitation, mainly about moving to a small French town and becoming a teacher when it wasn’t necessarily a dream of mine, I took the risk and said yes to the job.

Making the leap to Paris

I taught at a school in Chartres for a year and then took another risk in autumn 2016 when I turned up in Paris with two suitcases and no job. I remember having discussions with my parents about how long I’d stay there without working.

While part of me told myself that I was throwing a good job away without the certainty of getting another one any time soon, another part of me knew that Paris was where I wanted to be.

Seeking out opportunities

When trying to find work in a different country, you’ve got to identify and take advantage of what you can offer compared to locals. People want to learn English all over the world, so the first thing I did when I arrived was look into tutoring opportunities.  It paid off and I started tutoring for a family within a week of arriving in Paris. Earning a little bit of cash while looking for work definitely helped!

I also knew that I wanted to work for a start-up, and discovered Welcome to the Jungle which was a helpful website for finding opportunities in the sector. One month after arriving, I started my job as a content specialist at BlaBlaCar, a carpooling app where drivers fill their empty seats and passengers can share the ride.

I’m actually doing a job where I don’t need to speak a word of French (although speaking the language does go a long way in my day-to-day life!)

Living and working in Paris

Some of my personal highlights of living in Paris have included:

  • Being a witness at my former flatmate’s wedding
  • Watching England win the grand slam in Paris
  • Being able to carpool anywhere in the world for free
  • Spending a weekend on Île des Embiez for my employer’s offsite
  • Working in the Moscow office for a week
  • Being in France to see France win the 2018 World Cup!

Not exactly a highlight but one of my most memorable experiences is cutting myself with a bread knife and getting five stitches in my hand. Being able to deal with these situations in French is a reminder of how integrated I am over here!

Thinking about working abroad?

My advice:

  1. Immediately after university is an ideal time to pursue a career abroad. It’s a moment where you can think about what’s best for you, without too many responsibilities in your private life.
  2. Try not to worry about leaving behind your family and friends. Everyone likes an excuse to go on holiday and visit you!
  3. Don’t be afraid, and do what you really want. That’s the important thing when pursuing a career and a life abroad.

Find further advice and sources of job vacancies on our working abroad pages. If you’d like help with turning your plans into a reality, get in touch. Whether you want support with finding opportunities or are unsure what type of work you’d like to do – we can help.

Posted in Alumni StoriesInternational Students