Meet a Reading Graduate: Speaking French every day

In recent years, even in times of economic uncertainties, more than 80% of graduates in Modern Languages at the University of Reading have begun a career or undertaken post-graduate studies within six months of graduation. Our graduates’ employment track records show that a degree in French, German, Italian, or European Studies at Reading offers successful career prospects in many different fields and countries. We’ve asked Marcus Anderson, who graduated with a degree in French in 2011, to let us know how he uses languages in his career. Here’s what he has to say:

Marcus Anderson, 2011 graduate in French Studies and Training & Performance Quality Manager at PhotoBox

Marcus Anderson, 2011 graduate in French Studies and Training & Performance Quality Manager at PhotoBox

I chose to study French at Reading because I knew that having a modern language in the world of work is an attribute which not only stands out, but can be extremely useful for working abroad and with foreign organisations. More importantly, once I graduated from university, my main goal was to find a job which, even if not using my French from the very beginning, would have given me the prospect of using my French at some point.

I was very fortunate to find a job two months after graduating from Reading as a Customer Service Advisor for Photobox UK, an online photo printing company. Even though I was solely working for the UK team when I started, I knew there would be several opportunities to use my French one way or another as the company itself was French. One thing I realised, however, is that in order to use my French I had to use my initiative and inquire what opportunities there were for me and how to best get my foot in the door.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing a job that you find comfortable, whether it be due to the close proximity to your home, quick money or simplicity of the job role. I made a promise to myself that I would not follow this mindset and made it my mission to source out all opportunities to be able to use my degree as much as possible.

I spoke with my manager a few months into my role and asked what tasks were available for me to do where I could have used my French, and fortunately there was no one in charge of our French courier tracking system. No sooner than I requested to be in charge of this, I managed to secure this additional task which required me to call our French delivery couriers to get updates on our deliveries as well as sending emails to track the orders.

A Career Fair hosted by the University of Reading's Careers, Placement and Experience Centre

A Career Fair hosted by the University of Reading’s Careers, Placement and Experience Centre

After a year in my role as a Customer Service Agent, I was promoted to Continuous Service Improvement Co-Ordinator, where I was in charge of all audits for our UK Customer Service team. Once again, I was still not satisfied just doing this for the UK, so took it upon myself to inquire if there was someone in a similar role to me for the French team. Once I got in touch with the head of the French department, she mentioned that the current auditor was saturated with audits and would appreciate assistance if available, so I jumped at the chance to assist and split my time between English, French/Belgian audits. As well as audits, I had to prepare a report at the end of the month in French to show the quality and performance of the French team and discuss results via conference call with their Head of Management team.

By this point, I was very happy to be implementing my French in my day to day role. I had also built up a great relationship with our French team inhouse as they also acknowledge my bilingual abilities for any future resource.

After a year in this role, I was then promoted again to my current role as Training and Performance Quality Manager. I am now managing two auditors; one auditor for the UK and one for France. I am now speaking French every day, travelling to France regularly for work trips and have a strong relationship with the French team in general, hosting meetings and interviews (and training) in French.

My three years at Reading and my year abroad in France have assisted me greatly in my job, and I have no doubt that whatever my future endeavours, I will continue to keep French at the core of my working life.

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