Katie Stack, BSc International Business with Language | Year abroad in Paris

I was really pleased as it made me realise how much my French had improved in a short amount of time."


Katie Stack is studying BSc International Business with Language, and as her chosen language was French, spent a year abroad working in Paris on two 6 month placements.

My experience

I spent my third year abroad working in Paris. Although a bit of a cliché, it probably was one of the best years of my life.

The initial search for a job wasn’t easy. I applied to internships that were advertised at the University of Birmingham and other UK universities. After several telephone and Skype interviews, I was turned down by all of them, the main reason being my insufficient level of French.

Fortunately, a couple of days before I had to decide whether to accept my place at a university in Lyon, I was offered a 6 month placement with a charity who, I was very relieved to say, didn’t ask for an interview. I started working for l’Organisation pour la Prévention de la Cécité (Organisation for the Prevention of Blindness) in August 2012 and from there my French rapidly improved.

I also wanted to do another 6 month internship and using the same advertisements as I had done initially, I applied for various other placements and after having 7 face-to-face interviews I was offered 5 of the positions. I was really pleased, particularly as it made me realise how much my French had improved in a short amount of time. I chose to work for Open2Europe, a PR agency where I was based in the marketing and sales team.

Tips and advice

Although having another language is definitely useful, when writing your CV and cover letter I would definitely highlight that your first language is English. All of the jobs I applied for required a fluent or native level of English and you will be highly valued in most international companies for this.

As with any job, it’s also important to show your enthusiasm to work for the company you are applying for.

But most of all whatever you do on your year abroad, enjoy it, make the most of every day and make sure to explore wherever you are.