CPSA case study: Making the most of your year abroad 

Susannah Latham, Final Year BSc Politics and International Relations student and Career Peer Support Assistant

Many students embark on a year abroad as part of their degree. We all have different reasons for choosing to do it: for some, it’s the excitement of a new culture and country, while others are keen to learn at a different institution or use the year to work or to improve their language skills.  

Whatever your reason for doing a year abroad, it can be a great opportunity to gain valuable skills and work experience, making yourself stand out when applying for jobs in the future.  

My Volunteering Experience  

As part of my Politics and International Relations BSc I studied for a year in the USA, at the University of Maryland. I had the flexibility to study a broad range of topics, ranging from art to climate change, and loved the freedom I had to learn in a new environment. 

But for me, my year in the US was about a lot more than just studying. I wanted to make friends, travel, and take advantage of new opportunities.  

Just like when I was a new student at Bristol, I attended a Freshers Fair, where I learnt about the student groups on campus. Joining a club or organisation on your year abroad is not only a great way to make friends, but also unlocks a whole variety of new opportunities. Having previously been involved with Oxfam in Bristol, I became a committee member of the Oxfam America Maryland Club, and helped organize fundraisers, concerts and campaigns.  

Activism may not be your thing, but from sports to social clubs, every university has a whole host of ways for you to find something you are passionate about – my advice would be to just go for it and get involved! 

Balancing Work and Life During Your Year Abroad 

In my second term, I decided to get a job working at the University diner, as I wanted to feel part of the university community and earn money for my travels! Visa restrictions and opportunities to work vary depending on your year abroad, so it may not be an option for everyone, but this job gave me valuable catering and customer service experience which was useful for finding part-time jobs back in the UK, and has often been a talking point in interviews.  

You may decide that you don’t want to volunteer or work on your year abroad, because you are there to learn, have fun, and live in a new country! This experience in itself is good for an application, since it can help you demonstrate your ability to adapt to a new environment and communicate with people from around the world.  

Remember that when you are applying for jobs it is about making the most of the experience you do have, so whatever you get from your year abroad, be sure to tell future employers about it, as your unique experience may be what gets you your job! 


Author: Susannah Latham, Final Year Politics and International Relations BSc student and Career Peer Support Assistant

This blog post is one of a series produced by our Career Peer Support Assistants, our fantastic team of current Bristol students working part-time with the Careers Service. Look out for further CPSA case studies coming soon!  

CPSA case study: Taking a year out after your studies 

Sid Taylor-Jones is an MSc Education student and Career Peer Support Assistant (CPSA).

I remember handing in my dissertation in third year, and feeling amazingly relieved… and then the panic set in. What do I do now??  

Before going to university, I had dreams of becoming a video editor. But after three years of developing that skillset and getting practical experience, I wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted anymore. I didn’t know what to do.   (more…)

Explore the world – it’s still possible!

Are you yearning to experience different cultures and meet new people?

Flags of the world
Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Whilst worldwide travel might not be on the agenda right now, it’s still possible to make intercultural connections, through learning and engaging, right here.

Discovering what the world has to offer starts with tapping into local opportunities that could lead to big adventures in the future. (more…)

8 reasons why you should do the Bristol PLUS Award!

As the new academic year starts, we are so excited to welcome you all back and *drumroll pleaseopen the Bristol PLUS Award for registration!  (more…)

How COVID-19 is impacting graduate recruitment around the world

You may have seen articles in the UK press about how coronavirus is affecting the UK graduate job market.  Broadly speaking it’s a mixed outlook, with some sectors like hospitality badly affected whereas others, like healthcare and social work, are more robust. You can read a useful summary on Prospects.

Photo by MOLPIX

At Bristol, one in four of you now are from overseas, so we’re actively using our relationships with global recruitment platforms and employers to collate information on job markets outside of the UK.

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Chambers of Commerce: the successful job hunter’s best kept secret

What are Chambers of Commerce?

Chambers of Commerce are membership organisations which businesses can join to access services to help them grow and play a part in their local business community. They exist around the world at the local, regional and national level. Bristol Chamber of Commerce is run by Business West. You can easily find Chambers for your nearest home town or city, or home country, by searching online. For example, “[name of city] Chamber of Commerce.”

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Why employers love global experience

Are you planning an adventure this summer? 

 

 

 

 

 

(image from Pixabay)

You may be about to travel, volunteer, work or study abroad and you’ve probably thought about what you’ll gain on a personal level. But have you considered the employability gains too? The two things aren’t mutually exclusive! What you’ll learn from personal challenges will positively influence your ability to perform in the workplace – enabling you to listen, communicate, adapt and solve problems. 

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Christmas time off: who gets the most?

Christmas is, of course, a time for merriness, too much food, and presents, and after a busy autumn term we at the Careers Service have begun to turn our thoughts to the holidays.

In particular, we’ve been considering the time off we are about to enjoy – but then this got us thinking: how does Britain’s time off compare to other countries?

via GIPHY

Do others get less time off? More? Or maybe none at all?

We did some research (read: used our favourite search engines) and decided to share the Top 3 countries ranked in order of their time off over the Christmas and New Year period.

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Getting qualified to teach abroad- is it worth it?

Teaching English Abroad- Getting qualified

In the few months I’ve been working on the Careers Service Welcome Desk I’ve come across many students asking about teaching English abroad. It’s lead me to reflect on my experience – 3 years teaching English in Cambodia, which I would describe as one of the most interesting and fulfilling experiences of my life.

‘So, what are you going to do now?’

When I graduated in Sociology I was faced with the dreaded question ‘So what are you going to do now?’ I had entertained the idea of doing a PGCE, but didn’t feel ready to commit to a career in teaching. After travelling in Southeast Asia and meeting a lot of English teachers I decided that teaching English seemed the most realistic job option for me if I wanted to work abroad. Whilst travelling I met people from a broad range of educational backgrounds; some had PGCEs, others had done online TEFL courses, and some had no qualifications at all. None of them seemed to have difficulty finding teaching work, however, a recurring theme in my conversations was that the more qualified teachers worked in better schools, had greater job security, and higher pay.

 Reality Check

I returned to England with one goal – to get back to the sun, smiles, and cheap beer of South-East Asia as soon as possible! I planned to do a 100-hour online teaching course for around £250, alongside working full-time as a waitress. As I was living with my parents at the time (thanks Mum and Dad!) I worked out I could be on a plane to Bangkok to start my new life within 6 months! However, when I relayed my plan (with much zest) to my dad, he advised that I invest the time and money and gain a qualification that would be recognized by accredited teaching organisations both abroad and the UK. Gaining a recognised qualification could be beneficial in developing a teaching career in the future. My Dad was an ESL lecturer at University of Bristol so I realised that his comments were informed, and subsequently took his advice by investing in a more in-depth training course which resulted in a recognised qualification – the Trinity Cert TESOL.

Back to school

The Trinity Cert TESOL is a 5-week intensive teacher training course comprising modules in Teaching Skills, Language Awareness, Learning an Unknown Language and Reflecting on the Experience, and a Material Assessment. I observed English lessons taught by both experienced TESOL teachers and my peers, and had weekly teaching observations in which I planned and taught English lessons to International students wanting supplementary lunchtime sessions alongside English courses. These sessions were assessed, and I was given feedback and ways to improve after each session. For me this was the most valuable part of the course as it gave me an idea of how much work needed to be put into planning a lesson, and the importance of building rapport with the students. I would have not have gained this insight from doing the 100-hour online course!

The Trinity Cert TESOL

Doing the 5-week Trinity Cert TESOL course was incredibly challenging. I got up at 5.30am to finish lesson plans, studied after school to meet assessment deadlines, and dreamt about grammar and phonology at night! But the hard work paid off, and after 5 weeks I was a qualified TESOL teacher and, as a result, when I went to Cambodia a couple of months later I was able apply for jobs in the well-established international schools that paid better than the local public ones. I got a job at the Australian Centre for Education who trained me to deliver lessons preparing students for IELTS. This is The International English Language Testing System which measures the language proficiency of people who want to study or work where English is used as a language of communication. Having this experience enhanced my CV and helped me secure future jobs. Working at The Australian Centre for Education was a very valuable experience. I built a portfolio of teaching resources, got feedback and advice from experienced   colleagues, and taught students of different ages and abilities.

Was it worth it?

Having a TESOL qualification enabled me to get a better teaching job,but doing the qualification gave me the skills I needed to each, and in both senses, it was definitely worth it. Also, although I have decided not to pursue a career in teaching at this stage in my life the transferable skills I developed in doing the qualification.

Working as a teacher, and living abroad have all greatly enhanced my employability and my self-development so it was worth it in that sense too. I would therefore recommend that anyone considering teaching English abroad to do the Trinity cert TESOL or its CELTA equivalent. Information the CELTA course can be found on the University of Bristol CELFS website.

 

 

 

Year abroad – a modern language student’s perspective

When studying a languages degree, it is obligatory to spend your third year abroad.  Despite the fact that many people thought this meant I had a year-long holiday whilst everyone back home was writing dissertations, it actually meant working 40+ hours a week, speaking more Spanish daily than ever before and learning more about the culture than I ever could from a textbook.

What did you do in Spain?

olivia-barcelona2

In August last year, I started a five-month placement at a Spanish language school in Barcelona. In a nutshell, my responsibilities included working as a receptionist, carrying out administrative tasks, answering phone and email enquiries and translating content to go onto the English version of the website. Having never worked a fulltime job before, the first few weeks were perhaps the most exhausting and a bit daunting. Nevertheless, once I had settled and got to know my colleagues, I started to really enjoy the work I was doing. After a month, I was put in charge of the schools Spanish evening course. This was the part that I perhaps enjoyed the most because, whilst it was a lot of work on top of what I was already doing, I really enjoyed having something for which I was solely responsible.

How did you find your placement?

The hardest part was probably finding the job itself. I started looking for an internship early on in my second year, seaolivia-barcelonarching Spanish job sites and lists of placements previous students had been on. Dont be disheartened if you send lots of emails and CVs and receive few replies as this tends to be the norm. One day, whilst thinking I was never going to find anything, I came across the language schools website and found that they offered work placements. Whilst the initial application process took a while, it was definitely worth it. So, keep looking and you definitely will find something!

What were the benefits of working abroad?

Working in another country was a great opportunity to meet and work with people from all over the world whom I might otherwise not have had the opportunity to meet. When working such long hours, sometimes even weekends, it was easy to feel that all I was doing was working. So one thing I would suggest to help adapt to living in a new country is throwing yourself into different activities outside of the workplace. This way you get to know more of the city and the culture.

Having now started to think about future job applications, I think the year abroad was a very valuable experience. Working abroad shows international experience, highlights language skills and shows you can adapt to different working environments.

The Careers Service can help you to research different countries using the GoinGlobal database, as well as providing resources to help with applications.