Learn a Language

Take an optional language module 

Being able to speak a second language is becoming more and more important in securing a job in a very competitive job market. Good language skills are second only to good IT skills in employers' lists of desirable attributes when selecting candidates for a job. They are also looking for graduates who have knowledge of other cultures. Although you have chosen to study History at Leicester, there are also excellent opportunities to acquire a new language or improve a language you have already learned at school, whether at GCSE or A-Level. One way to do this is to take part in the Erasmus Scheme where you spend a year studying in a European university between your second and third years. But you don’t have to participate in the Erasmus Scheme to learn a language: if you are taking single honours you can do it as part of your ordinary degree by choosing to take a language module (French, Spanish or Italian) in your second and third year.



If someone were to have told me a year ago that taking beginners German would increase my employability I would have laughed at the very suggestion. I took German lessons in preparation for my Erasmus year in Bavaria, Germany and when I came home to England to complete my final year at the University of Leicester, I was conscious of the fact that graduation was on the horizon. My attempts at trying to gain interviews whilst trying to focus on my dissertation, were met with rejection after rejection. Not knowing what I was doing wrong, I asked a fellow student  to look at my CV and she asked me why I hadn’t mentioned my language skills. As my level of German is not fluent I didn’t feel that I could justify such a bold statement, especially on a CV.  However, at a recent interview I was asked about my year abroad and if I could speak German to which I replied that I could speak enough, in German of course! I am currently working in an amazing office with the kindest people I have ever met, I go to work with a big smile on my face. Once I’ve completed all of my training I hope to be able to deal with our German clients. I feel so fortunate to have a job and since altering my CV to show ‘German speaker’ there seems to be a revived interest from companies that previously rejected me. I have had more calls in the last 4 weeks than I had in the last year, all asking if I would consider ‘doing something’ with my language skills. I love my current job but the offers are still coming through. You don’t have to live abroad to utilise a second language, there is a huge demand for bilingual staff as industries do not want to lose out on international business.
Helen Szegner, BA History (graduated June 2012) 

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