Guest Blog: A career with languages

Guest Blog: A career with languages Scuba diving by Ilse Rejis & Jan-Noud Hutten

This article was written by Kirsty Barkley, published on 18th August 2010 and has been read 4441 times.

When I chose to study French and Italian the only thing I was certain about was that I wanted to use the languages I had acquired in my future job. So when my graduation gown had been flung back onto the pile, I naturally did what any self-respecting linguist would do (especially after a year in Manchester), and went in search of the sun! 

Sicily was the main location for my third year abroad and it was time to resuscitate the remnants of French I had left, so I set off to travel around France with a friend in a dishevelled and ageing Peugeot 309, couchsurfing until I ended up working in Biarritz for the summer. This was shortly followed by a stint in Mexico working as a tour guide in the Cenotes (incredible underground river systems). I was teaching tourists about the history, formation and ecology of the caves and it was fantastic. I was using all my languages whilst wading through crystal blue waters and space-like stalactites.  

Unfortunately it got to a point when my post-uni travels had been stretched to the limit and I decided to come home and find a grown-up job, but the reality of it was that I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do.

I had considered studying again but this wasn’t going to cut the mustard or even pay for a sachet of Colman’s at that, so I turned to the web. I tried the 100 personality tests approach, but they mentioned something about procrastination, so I moved on. For weeks I was searching recruitment websites like fruit machines: French...refresh...Italian...refresh...Cantonese...unlucky. Maybe it was time for another cup of coffee. Then all of a sudden there it was, under French, three cherries in a row:

‘How would you like to work for a fresh online travel business where our customers learn languages whilst surfing, cooking, scuba diving, skydiving, dancing Flamenco and much more?’

I was reminded of a meeting with the Careers Officer a few years before, who told me I could consider tourism. I’d had an image of myself in an orange Easyjet outfit trying to sell electric cigarettes to non-smokers and was a bit offended that it had been suggested. but I then realised I’d been wrong reading so little into the career path. This really was an opportunity worth considering, so I set about writing my CV and application.
Researching the company, I was amazed at all the courses you could do and when I met the CEO I realised that I’d made a mistake with my snap judgement of tourism; that it was fresh and exciting and involved all the things I loved doing.

One year down the line and I can’t believe my luck.  As is a fast moving entrepreneurial business, I get firsthand experience of all the levels within a company. Everyone gets involved and there are no barriers or specific roles we have to follow and, above all, no grey partitions!
I can begin my day talking to someone planning their 2-month Spanish language and Adventure course in Venezuela, discussing the ins and outs of an ice cream course with an Italian chef in Sorrento or writing site content for a Japanese Pop culture course. No two days are the same and the best part of it is that I get to use my languages every day, working directly with the schools themselves.  

As we are always looking for holiday ideas, I now get to travel and test the courses out for myself. My next jaunt will be to test out some Spanish courses in Seville and whilst I’m there, I’ll try my hand at a bit of location-based contracting - on the hunt for some new inspiring cookery holidays. I may even squeeze in a touch of Flamenco too.

All I can say is that if studying languages gave me the chance to work with such a great variety of people then it really was worth all those library fines and cups of coffee!

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