Modern Languages careers

Overview

Modern Languages graduates from the University of Exeter have an excellent reputation with graduate recruiters and compete very successfully in the employment market.

Studying Modern Languages at the University of Exeter provides you with skills that are attractive to employers and relevant for a wide range of careers. Alongside written and verbal fluency in your chosen language(s), you’ll develop skills in:

  • Managing and analysing information
  • Articulating ideas and arguments
  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Cultural awareness and adaptability

Recent Modern Languages graduates have pursued careers in sectors such as translation and teaching, working for organisations such as UNICEF, Just Education, the British Council, and Amazon EU.

Other recent graduates have progressed to postgraduate courses in:

  • MA European Politics
  • Graduate Diploma in Law
  • PGCE Secondary French
  • MA International Relations
  • MSc Globalisation and Latin American Development
  • MA Translation and Professional Language Skills

A degree in Modern Languages also provides good opportunities to develop skills that are attractive to employers in a broad range of sectors. In an increasingly globalised world, language skills are highly sought after by employers, and can help job applicants to stand out from the crowd. Our recent Modern Languages graduates have pursued careers in:

  • Journalism
  • Digital Marketing
  • Communications
  • Education
  • The Civil Service
  • Charities
  • Finance and Accounting

Careerzone

The services offered by the Humanities careers and employability team are complementary to the services offered by our central Career Zone, where you can participate in practical sessions to develop your skills; access paid internships and volunteering opportunities; explore postgraduate study options; meet prospective employers; get one-to-one advice and learn how to secure the right job for you.

Professional Experience

A Modern Languages degree at the University of Exeter offers practical modules and a year abroad to give you plenty of opportunity to develop your professional portfolio, giving you the skills and experience which you will need to be successful in your chosen career. 

Humanities in the Workplace

Completing a work placement is great way to gain a competitive edge in the graduate job market and will help you to develop an understanding of how the skills gained from a Humanities degree are applicable in the workplace. Our College-wide module, Humanities in the Workplace, is available to all students in the College and offers the chance for students to complete a minimum of 40 hours work experience in a broad range of sectors.

Year Abroad

Modern Languages students spend a year of their studies abroad. This is a welcome addition to any CV, demonstrating that you are willing to leave your comfort zone, and take on a new challenge in a completely new environment.

The benefits of studying and/or working abroad include: 

  • Improved communication skills
  • The ability to think and study in different ways
  • Flexibility and confidence
  • Analytical skills and the ability to make cross-cultural comparisons
  • Adaptability, independence and life experience

Past Modern Languages students have undertaken work placements at:

  • Deloitte (Madrid)
  • Armani (Modena)
  • BNP Paribas (Paris)
  • 212 Yachts (Cannes)
  • The British-Chilean Chamber of Commerce (Santiago)

Find out more about studying abroad in Modern Languages

Other opportunities...

Language Societies

The Students’ Guild offers a range of societies including French, German, Russian, Italian, Chinese and Hispanic for students who are passionate about these languages and cultures. Societies such as the Model UN, Amnesty International and European Law Society allow you to develop your employability in a globalised context. There is plenty of opportunity to get involved and enhance your skills, and many students do this by becoming involved in the organisation of these societies and events.

Volunteering

Voluntary work demonstrates to employers that you are socially aware and proactive, and that you have developed key employability skills such as communication, teamwork and interpersonal skills. The University of Exeter works with many organisations to offer students voluntary positions. Students have previously worked with organisations such as: 

Many students also undertake local community work through the Guild’s ESV (Exeter Student Volunteering) programme.

Events

Every year the Humanities employability team organise a series of employability and alumni events which are tailored to the career aspirations of our students. Below are some of the events which have been offered previously:

Careers using Languages

Paul Kaye, Language Officer at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation, visited campus to host an event about working in translation and linguistics, and how to successfully navigate these recruitment processes.

Careers in Journalism

This event aimed to give students an insight into working in Journalism, and to the chance to understand what it takes to be successful as a Journalist today. Former students Cyan Turan (BA English 2012) and Rob Edwards (BA History 2010) visited campus to talk about their careers since graduation. Cyan is now an Editorial Assistant and Junior Writer at the Sun’s supplement magazine Fabulous, whilst Rob is a Senior Editorial Assistant for the UK section of Russia Today (RT).

Using your Humanities degree for a career in Finance - hosted by Deloitte

The University of Exeter hosted an event with Deloitte financial services, who are keen to recruit Exeter students from a broad range of subjects. On this occasion, former student Philippa Rowe (BA French and Latin 2013) who is now a Senior Associate, visited students to talk to them about how their degree in Humanities can launch them into a ‘Times top 100’ career with Deloitte.

Our students and graduates

CEO and co-founder of One Third Stories, London, U.K.

My role as CEO is to drive the business forward and manage everything from investor relations, operations, partnership building and hiring. Since founding the business during my time at Exeter, we successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign, achieving 350% of our target. We have also partnered with the Spanish Embassy, Goethe-Institut and the Association of Language Learning and received investment from private investors. We now have six-figure revenues with customers in 49 countries. I absolutely loved my time at Exeter, particularly my Year Abroad. I spent the first two months studying at the Copenhagen Business School, before working at Armani in Modena, studying in Venice and volunteering in Brazil. I genuinely met people who changed my life in each country, and none of it would have had happened if I hadn’t learnt other languages and developed a multicultural understanding.

Alex Somervell, International Relations with Italian and Portuguese (with study and work abroad) (July 2015)

Civil Service Policy Adviser focusing on EU issues, Whitehall, London, U.K.

My degree in Modern Languages has been a real door-opener for my career. In my 4th year at Exeter I was headhunted onto O2’s 2-year European Leadership Graduate Scheme thanks to two key traits that I’d gained during my degree: firstly because I spoke Spanish (O2 is a Spanish company), and secondly because I had gained professional work experience abroad, while working at Armani in Italy during my Third Year Abroad.

With Brexit being the UK’s biggest challenge for the years to come, there’s never been a more important time to be studying European languages and cultures, as the UK has a serious skills gap in this field and huge demand for experts on Europe and the EU. Graduates with expertise in subjects related to Europe are now hugely sought after in the post-referendum job market, and the Foreign Office Fast Stream is also a very popular choice for language graduates.

Virginia Stuart-Taylor, BA Italian and Spanish with proficiency in Portuguese (July 2012)

Global Strategy Analyst at Cartica Management, Washington, DC.

My knowledge of Russian helped me secure my current job at an Emerging Markets investment fund. Initially, I started as an intern. Part of my job was to summarize Russian news relevant to our investments. Since then, I progressed to my current position, where I manage the macroeconomic research for all our countries and coordinate a small team of people. I have found consistently that knowledge of a language, especially a less commonly studied one such as Russian, has given me an edge in internship and job applications.

Karin Riechenberg, BA International Relations and Russian (Spring 2012)

Self-Employed Performance Artist, London, U.K.

I’ve always had two passions in life: performing arts and languages. I was able to combine them throughout my university career at Exeter and still use them in my current work as an actor. I always had this inner conflict at university about why I wasn’t actually studying Drama, but actually, in retrospect, studying Modern Languages was the best decision I ever made. I was lucky enough to throw myself into two fully immersive language/cultural experiences during my summers at University and during my year abroad that again combined my love for the stage and my love for languages.

Caitlin McNerney, BA Russian and Italian with Proficiency in Spanish (July 2015)

Freelance editor and writer, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

As a freelancer in Germany, I have to always come across professional in my email addresses and make sure my CV and cover letters in German are of a really good level, and such things were covered in detail in the German language modules at Exeter. The Advanced Translation Skills module also helped, because as part of my freelancing I take on translations every now and then from German to English. My Year Abroad helped me a great deal in knowing which direction to go in – I did a placement at a school in Hanover in the north of Germany.

Daniel Walker, German with Mathematics (July 2014)