Eleanor interned in a Madrid law firm and is now a barrister
I now practise as a barrister and when I was applying for pupillages the thing I often heard from interviewers was that my international experience had made my application stand out from the others. The reality is that nearly everyone who applied for the same positions as me had a good degree and relevant work experience, so having something a little bit different on my CV was enough to catch the panel's attention when they were selecting interview candidates. It showed that I had an interest in other languages and cultures, whilst (they said) demonstrating a little more dedication and responsibility than if I had simply been travelling for a year.
On a more personal note, living abroad was one of the best experiences I could have asked for. In terms of personal development, at the age of nineteen, living on your own and taking on the responsibility of everything that goes with that is difficult enough, but tackling all of those challenges in a new country, through a language in which you’re not entirely comfortable is an incredible learning curve. At the end of it, you feel triumphant, like you’ve taken on the world and won.
If there is a question as to whether or not funding should be made available for third-year placements, the answer has to be yes. We are desperate to fill our national industries with young adults who graduate with good degrees but who can also demonstrate a level of social and cultural awareness, common sense, diplomacy, maturity, resilience, dedication, good communication skills, practical life skills and an ability to work independently or in a team. There is surely no better way to develop these skills than by spending time living abroad, especially within the context of a structured and supportive third-year university placement."
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.