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Modern Languages and LinguisticsPart of Humanities

Katie Bizley BA French and Spanish2013

Katie Bizley's Photo

Hi, I'm Katie Bizley and I studied BA French and Spanish within Modern Languages at the University of Southampton.

The University of Southampton offers a welcoming and inclusive environment in which we are strongly encouraged to push ourselves and realise our ambitions and goals.

What made you select the University of Southampton?

I chose the University of Southampton for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s impressive ranking and reputation helped me to put other universities, course quality and employment prospects into perspective. Secondly, the campus and feel on the Open Days made me feel both comfortably at home whilst with a driving progressiveness which motivated me even more to study at Southampton. I was also greatly impressed by Southampton’s extensive facilities and commitment to student satisfaction. Additionally, being close to home and with Southampton’s excellent transport system I could also see my family regularly to bridge the gap of moving out and maintain my part-time weekend job.

What is Southampton like as a place to study?

The University of Southampton offers a welcoming and inclusive environment in which we are strongly encouraged to push ourselves and realise our ambitions and goals, in all directions whether academic, personal or extracurricular. We are spoilt for choice in some many ways, from where we can study, to the facilities, to extra support, to entertainment and cultural activities.

As a Modern Languages study in the school of Humanities, I also appreciated the international and multicultural tapestry of Southampton as a city. As a city we are also blessed with green spaces in easy reach of campus.

What did you enjoy about the course?

As I read over and over in Southampton’s perspectives, so many students including myself highlight the value of being able to have such choice and flexibility with the course. I was able to focus on social research, history, politics and practical uses of languages, such as interpretations instead of having to study other modules which may not have interested me as much and I was still able to develop essential skills for employment and future academic study.
With my modules in French and Spanish I was also extremely grateful to have spoken practice timetabled, which is something I know other universities do not put them same priority on as Southampton.

What opportunities did you take up that really added value to your experience as a student?

In addition to the abundant social activities we can involve ourselves in with societies, I also took on some part time work with the University of Southampton which helped me develop an idea of where I would like my future career path to go. This also enabled me to develop skills and links which have helped me to already secure more employment and other opportunities.

Additionally, I worked towards obtaining Southampton’s Career Destination’s Graduate Passport which is a record of achievement of all my non-academic and employment activities I have participated in during my studies. I now feel more confident with interviews and applications and I attended sessions which helped me understand my career goals and priorities. I really think this puts me apart from other graduates, not only for the activities which I did but also for the recognition of the skills I developed and my commitment to achieving my Graduate Passport whilst ensuring I maintained focus on my studies.

How did your studies and experience at Southampton shape your future?

Southampton has opened my mind to different ideas and experiences on a global level which has filled me with confidence that I can adapt to any environment and I have the confidence and skills to take any opportunity. Having had the opportunity to meet lots of international students I’ve become more open minded and able to consider other points of view, this has facilitated my experience in Mexico and undoubtedly it is a desire skill for future employment.

Tell us about your current role

Currently I am living in Colima on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Having participated in the ERASMUS exchange as part of my course I was keen to have another international experience whilst developing my career prospects further as I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to go with my career. Southampton has its own exchange programme with universities in Mexico in which we give English conversation classes. I work 20 hours a week and encourage Mexican students to use English and have fun whilst practicing.
I am also working with the University of Colima’s International Office as a volunteer in order to develop my skills further as I’ve now realised I would like to develop my career in a university context and more specifically with internationalisation policies. So far I have been involved in social media marketing campaigns, giving a welcome speech sat next to the University of Colima’s chancellor, giving a workshop on British culture to economically disadvantaged sectors of society and attending a conference on Mexican Chinese relations hosted by China’s Ambassador to Mexico Qiu Xiaoqi during his visit to the University in March 2014.

When you graduated what was your ambition and do you feel you’ve achieved it?

When I graduated I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do, like many graduates, but having participated in Southampton’s Career destinations programme called the Graduate Passport, I developed many transferable skills and became more aware of what my career goals are. I took the Celta certificate in Teaching English as a second language and was lucky enough to support Southampton’s pre-sessional course with Chinese and Taiwanese students. This certificate has also helped me in Mexico. My primary ambition was to go abroad again to further develop my intercultural competence, I feel I have largely achieved this as the ups and downs of living abroad definitely present new enriching challenges.

Do you have any future ambitions?

Now I have realised my future ambition is to develop a career in the higher education sector supporting students in many different ways and in the future I would also like to complete a masters in Intercultural Communication.

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of how I have overcome the struggles I had with Spanish as a dyslexic language learner in my first and second year to have graduated with a 2:1 and been able to successfully live in both Spain and Mexico using Spanish on a daily basis and help other people with their Spanish.
I’m also very proud of how I learnt to balance my time between my studies, extra curricular activities and part time work. Sometimes this was difficult but it gives me a great selling point for future employment.

What advice would you give to a student starting their degree at Southampton?

Timetable everything well, ask others for tips on how to organise yourself best so you can seize every opportunity. Remember your degree is the most important thing but the immense value of extra curricular activities can really give you an edge in the competitive job market. I wish I’d done more to develop more skills.

If you had your time at University again is there anything you’d do differently?

I would have got more involved with a society and tried harder to secure a position on a committee. I also would have asked for more help in my first year when I felt a bit overwhelmed and struggled with the jump up from college.

What tips would you give to current students looking to start a career in your sector? What could they be doing now to make themselves more employable when they graduate in the future?

Get involved in the extracurricular activities the university offers and also actively involved yourself with the services and workshops offered by the Careers and Employability Service. We may not know exactly what we want to do in the future but they helped me a lot with building an idea of my career priorities and preparing myself for applications and interviews. One of the most significant activities I did was brainstorming what skills I have from where and knowing how to present this to an employer. It is such an easy and simple thing to do after all and the workshops are great to fit in between lectures or as a break from your studies for an hour or so to consider the bigger picture.

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