Nathalie worked abroad in Brussels and is now a European Renewable Energy Researcher
Working abroad offered me a fantastic chance to encounter and learn from many different cultures and working practices. Being placed in Brussels in particular was very exciting as I gained first hand exposure to European politics and worked closely wit both the European Parliament and Commission. Not only did I gain valuable experience from working in a very diverse and challenging business environment, but my confidence, communications skills and network of professional contacts have all grown significantly and proved invaluable ever since.
Following graduation I worked as a Project Manager at Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, working on a European funded automotive initiative, for which my placement year gave me a distinct advantage in obtaining. Firstly, without EU working experience and knowledge of EU funding streams, I would not have been eligible to apply for the position and furthermore my improved confidence and communications skills have really helped in composing myself at the interviews and come across as more professional and experienced. My concrete understanding of the EU and funding mechanism that surround it, coupled with the contacts I have in Brussels have aided me on a daily basis in my current role and the experience has opened many doors for my future career path.
I am currently working as a Researcher on two European renewable energy projects for the Centre of Applied Business Research and I am studying part time on a scholarship program towards an MBA.
Ultimately for me, an industrial placement year abroad gave me the opportunity to apply my degree disciplines in a real business, multi-cultural and multi-linguistic environment. My enhanced work experience and skills set has enabled me to stand out in the highly competitive recruitment environment graduates are currently faced with."
In partnership with the British Academy and University Council of Modern Languages (UCML) we gathered short reports from graduates on the importance that the year abroad has had for them, in terms of their skill set, their careers and their lives. These reports formed the basis of the Position Statement: Valuing the Year Abroad. Browse the reports below for inspiration, and select a tag within a report to read more on that theme.