Coming to the end of your degree can be a scary prospect. Leaving behind the comfort of a student life – weekday lie-ins, late night partying and that handy student discount – can seem daunting. In this week’s blog, BA (Hons) French and Spanish graduate, Lizzie Master’s, tells us how she landed her dream job after graduating…
“As I was approaching the end of my final year, the reality was beginning to set in that I was just months away from finishing university and still had no clue as to what I wanted to do after. I couldn’t have imagined this time a year ago that I would have travelled to some of the most amazing places in the world as part of my job!
“I remember speaking with my parents at a family dinner over the Christmas holidays before beginning the second to last term of my final year, still with no clue as to what I wanted to do when I finished. I was worried about the competition that there would be when finding a job, and the pressure to get the grades if I decided to continue studying and do a Master’s degree in Translation.
“By chance, as we were leaving the family meal, we ended up bumping into a family friend who was out with my now boss, Liz. I was offered the opportunity to do a week’s internship with Phoenox Textiles Ltd. – a local family-run business who manufacture doormats and rugs. Liz explained that they were planning on developing the international side of the business, and ideally wanted someone with a language background, but also experience – which concerned me, as at this point, I had none!
“I spent a week with the company at a trade show in Birmingham, where the job role started out not so glamorous… The first task that was given to me was to collect mud with my bare hands which is used in one of our doormat tests! This is a story which I still laugh about to this day. I spent the rest of the week working alongside my now colleagues, where I learned about the different products that the company manufacture, as well as speaking to customers and having the opportunity to gain practical experience of conversing in both French and Spanish.
“After spending the week at the trade show, I was given a real insight into how a family-run business operates. It made me realise that I did want to be a part of the team and that sales was the right path for me. After completing my internship, I was extremely fortunate to be offered a job as an International Business Development Executive, where I would be working to help develop the international side of the business. Not only did this provide me with security, knowing that at the end of my studies I had a job lined up, but also the knowledge that I would be able to utilise my French and Spanish skills which I had worked so hard to develop for the past four years.
“Just two months into the job, I embarked on my first international trade show to Las Vegas. Here I was able to network, speak to potential customers, as well as source new international accounts for the business. Shortly after the trip to Las Vegas, my colleague and I travelled to Canada to do a trade show at Niagara Falls. Not only was the trip an opportunity for me to gain new French speaking customers, it was also the trip of a lifetime as I was able to see one of the greatest wonders of the world – the Niagara Falls!
“Attending the trade shows really helped me learn how different markets operate. My colleague Tracy and I have developed ties with some of the biggest retailers in both the USA and Canada, including: Orchard Supply; Wayfair; Woodman’s Stores; Dixieline; Home Depot; Potpourri; Orvis and Bed, Bath & Beyond.
“My colleague has become extremely busy developing the company’s presence in both America and Canada, and we are an international team that is growing rapidly. Therefore, after a trip to Italy, and with future plans to travel to both France and Germany, I accepted the position of International Business Development Manager for the European aspect of the business. This past year has not only allowed me to put my language skills to good use; it has also helped to develop my confidence, problem solving and sales skills.”
If you’re interested in being a guest blogger, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or drop us a message on social media. We would love to hear from you!