Written by Phoebe Moore, Final Year Italian and Spanish Student
This past year has definitely been an important turning point in my career plans and aspirations. After two years studying Italian and Spanish at Manchester, last September I embarked on my year abroad, first working as an intern in Madrid for five months, then studying in Bologna for another five months. I hoped the year would stretch my language capabilities and independence, being such a big step for a home bird like me, but I didn’t realise that by the end of this year, my experiences would both boost my confidence for life after university and kickstarting a career, as well as give me a much clearer idea of what I wished to do. My year abroad and its opportunities helped me to discover my passion and the confidence to pursue it.
This time last year, I was beginning my time at the Spanish office of a London-based sports marketing company. It would be a positive introduction into the corporate world, an opportunity to boost my confidence and gain transferable skills. A challenging experience at times, as I navigated Spanish in a professional context whilst managing a hefty research project, I left with many strengthened attributes and an increased employability.
My research involved writing the history of football sponsorship in the top five football-loving European nations- the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany and France- which companies celebrated the most marketing successes as their logos adorned the shirts of championship-winning teams. As well as fostering time management and organisation skills, my confidence in communication rose quite considerably as I was required to present my findings in Spanish in company meetings.
This whole experience was incredibly important for my career path. This time gave me the confidence I needed to move on to my next steps, develop key skills for professional working opportunities, not to mention a five month stint working abroad I can now proudly add to my CV. My research is now published as an official illustrated company report and was even detailed in notable Spanish financial newspapers, such as Expansión.
As well as a much needed confidence boost, my experiences abroad have developed my problem solving skills and my world view; I left the British bubble and entered new countries with their own cultural differences and social practices. My eyes were opened and my independence grew, making me much more flexible for opportunities outside of the UK- should they come about, I am definitely open to it. I know that I can adapt to a new city and create a life for myself outside British culture.
During the next five months I studied courses in Italian at the University of Bologna. My exciting journey as an aspiring writer would begin in this city. The cogs began turning and I realised that journalism might be the career for me. I’ve always considered myself to have a creative streak, but in high school I abandoned this passion in pursuit of other careers I thought I might want to do: teaching, science, then finally homing in on the degree I knew was perfect for me; languages. Now on my year abroad, I was away from the stresses of university and deadlines and I had time to think about what I enjoyed doing the most, and dedicate myself to it.
So I started a blog. I wanted to write about my year abroad experiences so far; the difficulties I’d faced and how I overcame these, and the inspiring cities I’d travelled to. I wanted to practice my writing and rediscover my passion for creating. As the blog took hold, and I brainstormed ideas for content, I found that channelling my creativity through writing was really giving me a buzz. Was that what I wished to do after university? Writing, creating, informing, inspiring and sharing experiences. Was journalism the way for me to go?
I soon started searching for opportunities in the industry. A few months later, after submitting my CV and undertaking a telephone interview, I was invited to spend a week at the Telegraph newspaper in London at the end of July. I was incredibly excited, especially as I was going to be in the Travel section. Whilst writing blog posts about cities in Spain and Italy that I had been to, I realised how much of a passion I had for travel writing and inspiring others to visit beautiful, culturally-rich places.
I would be entering into the journalism industry for the first time, and I knew how important it was to give the best impression I could, whilst I learnt about the environment and work day around me and showed my developing skills. I didn’t know if I would be able to write anything for Travel but I expressed this wish as much as I could to try and create an opportunity.
I spent the most exciting week at the Telegraph offices. My work mainly consisted of researching for journalists’ articles, covering a range of subjects such as gap year opportunities and stylish budget UK hotels. My favourite part of the week was when I was given a writing assignment to write a 500 word section box to accompany a Travel article. It was going online the next day, and it would be my first experience in organising my writing under such a strict time constraint: researching, writing and editing my section. I surprised myself with how natural this felt.
It was amazing to be behind the scenes, gaining a more realistic idea of what the industry is like and being in the midst of so many talented and creative people. I finished the week with incredibly valuable insight, excited about my next steps, as well as experience in a national newspaper. I had worked the week of a journalist, gaining a real idea of the role’s duties and responsibilities, and being able to apply and develop my skills in writing and time management. I am hoping it will help to stead me well in the highly competitive journalism industry.
So, what are my next steps? I wish to add to my writing portfolio as much as I can in the next year, and create as many opportunities as possible to be able to showcase my skills and flexibility in writing. This year has been an incredibly important one for me, in realising what I want to do after my degree and in taking key steps towards my goals. I am excited about my future, now I’ve set the ball rolling and watched my confidence in my abilities grow during my year abroad.