My languages degree has prepared me for the wider world

Graduation is just around the corner, and many of our 2018 finalists are already starting the next phase of their lives, after university. We wanted to take this opportunity to check in with one of last year’s graduates, Charlie Ashton, who completed her degree in French and Italian at the University of Reading in 2017. Charlie’s now about to earn another degree: an MSc in Real Estate, and she already has a new job lined up for after graduation. Here’s what Charlie has to say about how her languages degree prepared her for her new career:

Charlie Ashton, receiving her BA in French & Italian from the University of Reading in 2017

I chose to study at the University of Reading because of the expertise of the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies, as well as because of the beautiful and award-winning green campus. The two combined ensured me that it would be a place I would be able to settle in and call home. Five years later, I have not been disappointed and I am still here!

The opportunities to study a variety of subjects at Reading made the transition from A-levels to my languages degree really appealing. Over the course of my degree I studied literature, art, history, culture, politics, linguistics as well as doing modules in Spanish and German in my first two years at Reading.

Along with her the Russian, Portuguese and German friends she met in Siena during her Year Abroad, Charlie took a trip to Bologna.

I still meet up with the friends that I made during my degree and at least go for coffee once a week with them! My fond memories consist of the small classes, getting to know everyone including the fantastic lecturers. This is one of the best things about Reading: the lecturers really are there to listen and help with any queries you have. The classes are more intimate that any other degree subjects and this allows you to maximise your language learning at Reading. Now that I’ve graduated I really miss the department and the friendly chats whenever you walk down the corridor. It felt like family.

A quick trip to Capri during the Year Abroad.

My third year came around ever so fast. This was the Year Abroad and was the scariest and best experience of my life!  I chose to go to Toulouse and Siena. Of course, the Year Abroad came with some incredible challenges, but I wouldn’t change it for the world! They are all valuable life experiences that you can apply in almost any situation. When I came back from my Year Abroad, I felt like I could tackle anything. I have amazing memories of my time in Toulouse and Siena, along with all the friends I made there. I am still in contact with my Erasmus group and we already met in Hamburg to celebrate the New Year together! It is my turn to host them in England very soon!

During my Year Abroad, I had the opportunity to reflect and think about what job I would like in the future. This can be one of the hardest things to consider, because the career options are so wide for a languages student. With so many options available it can be difficult to pinpoint a particular profession.

I realised that as a language student, the opportunities are truly endless due to the skills that you acquire over the four years of your degree. I have always had a passion for art and architecture. This came to life as I was travelling around Italy taking in the stunning views and towns. I realised that I had a real passion for the built environment and maybe this was something I could look into further.

Charlie and some postgraduate friends celebrating the end of the academic year in Henley-on-Thames

On return to Reading I looked into postgraduate degree  programmes. I found the MSc Real Estate programme at the University of Reading and signed up for the Open Day. I loved it and applied straight away for a place on the course.

Perhaps you’re wondering what are the links are between French & Italian and Real Estate? Well, the skills you learn as a language student are invaluable. Effective communication with a wide range of people, not being afraid to speak your mind in a constructive way and to be passionate about what you want to pursue in the future. These are three attributes in particular that I’ve drawn on a lot this year in my Masters programme. They are the same skills that you acquire in a languages degree and that you call on nearly every day during your Year Abroad! Enthusiasm, determination and openness are qualities that you gain from being a languages student at Reading. I would say that my languages degree has really opened my eyes and prepared me for the wider world.

The postgraduate life: enjoying the lunch at the Greenlands Campus before a boat trip!

Now I’m about to begin my new career. During my interview for my upcoming job I was asked, ‘So how do you feel about the prospect of walking into a room full of strangers and engaging in conversation?’ I knew that the interviewer was referring to industry events, which are held quite frequently. For many people this can be a terrifying prospect, one that you’d want to avoid. But I said ‘This was something that I had to do frequently on my Year Abroad, and usually in a foreign language. So I’d say it would be something that I would enjoy.’

I am now going to work for a luxury property developer called Millgate Homes, which is based in Twyford. I’ll work in the land and planning team, where we will locate sites and appraise them for development opportunities. The quality and care that are put into Millgate homes is something that attracted me to the company. During my interview I was asked if I liked Art and I was told that I could get involved with design projects for the in-house design & architecture team if that was something that interested me. Of course I said yes!! In the next few years I will be trained to become a land buyer. I will be dealing with agents, landowners, the public, councils and other government bodies in my day to day life.

The graduates of the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies at the University of Reading. You never know where a languages degree will lead you.

When I started my degree in languages at the University of Reading five years ago I had no idea that I would be in the position I am today! The Department of Modern Languages and European Studies at Reading has enriched me as a person and opened so many doors. I would encourage anyone to choose to study a modern foreign languages degree here because there are so many career possibilities along with the opportunity to learn in a truly fantastic department! I still love to read and watch programmes in French and Italian because they have a big place in my life. I am going to the South of France in September and I can’t wait to speak French again. I am also eager to organise a trip to Italy next year. My experience at Reading always stay with me!

To learn more about the possibilities available to you with a degree in French, German, Italian, or Spanish from the University of Reading, check out our careers page. Be sure to follow our blog, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our Twitter feed, too, so that you can keep up on all the news and events of the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies at the University of Reading.

If you’re a Reading graduate, we’d love to hear from you about your career choices after university. Tell us your story. The University of Reading publishes alumni profiles online. If you’d like to share your experiences, all you have to do is fill out an online questionnaire.

When you do, please consider submitting your story for the “Meet a Reading Graduate” section of our departmental blog. And please consider joining the University’s Thrive Mentoring Scheme to help our students make their transition into the world after graduation.

And remember to subscribe to our blog: