Summary: Recent graduate Natalie spent a term studying in Munich before undertaking an 11 month internship with a French publishing company for her year abroad.
I come from a relatively big family in London, where I have always lived. I started learning languages from the age of 11, and really enjoyed being able to communicate with others in a foreign language, particularly when on holiday.
I decided to apply for Leeds because I knew that I didn’t want to study in London and read in depth about the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at Leeds and its excellent reputation. Another bonus was the spread of the time to study abroad, as the idea of spending a term in one country and then a whole year in another meant maximum exposure to foreign cultures and maximum opportunity for me to improve my languages. By studying languages I also knew that I would gain a skillset that would always be useful in any career.
I spent my term abroad studying in Munich and I arranged an internship in Paris with the publishing company Groupe Express Roularta for my full year in France. The company has a link with the University and have had a stagiaire from Leeds working there every year for the past nine years. Within the company I was a member of the International Advertising team, working on the advertising for over 25 magazines, six websites and various iPhone and iPad apps.
Going into such a large company was extremely daunting at first, but I soon grew accustomed to the French working ways and found all my colleagues to be extremely friendly. My main duties were selling advertising pages in the various magazines that we published, including the news magazine L’Express, the fashion magazine L’Express Styles, and many interior design magazines such as Maison Française and Côté Paris. As a result I worked with our representatives in 17 different countries on a daily basis, sourcing new international brands to advertise in our French magazines, as well as creating offers for existing clients. Brands I worked on included Jimmy Choo and Mulberry, as well as Farrow & Ball and the Spanish Tourism Board. I was in charge of the Competitor Monitoring report that was sent out every month, and I was also involved in organising PR events for clients and helping with the launches of new magazines. I worked closely with the marketing team to tailor each of our pitches, and helped my colleagues arrange business trips. I was also privileged enough to take part in a brain storming session with the editor of L’Express. As the only native English speaker in the office I was called upon to translate presentations, PR documents, editorial content and correspondence both to and from English for all of the various advertising departments for every single magazine. Consequently I felt much appreciated, and knew that the work that I did actually made a difference to the success of the company.
The level of French that the first two years of my degree had provided me with definitely helped, as I felt confident enough to hold a simple conversation with any of my colleagues from day one. Living in Paris for 11 months was so rewarding and by speaking French every say I feel I have attained the fluency in French I was hoping for.
I cannot recommend a year in industry enough. I feel that by completing an internship I was more exposed to the French culture and language than if I had studied abroad or worked as a language assistant. I also feel that the confidence and maturity gained when completing a year abroad really help set you up for your final year at Leeds and for your career afterwards.
Any future employers will be impressed when they see that you have work experience abroad on your CV and it can help you stand out from the crowd. I really enjoyed working on magazines and as a result I will be starting on the Which? graduate scheme in September after graduation. They were extremely interested to find out about my year abroad, and it was clear that it made me stand out as a candidate.