Mike Haynes, Newcastle University

Employer: John Lewis Partnership

Degree: French and German (2013)

What did you like most about your languages degree?

What stood out especially was, firstly, the year abroad.It was a unique experience and a life changing one where you really learn to be independent and confident, and you hone your linguistic abilities.Secondly, the staff at Newcastle are amongst the most informed and enthusiastic I have encountered.Not only are they experts in their fields, but they’re excellent teachers who are always eager to improve their teaching with the newest methods. In addition,the curriculum is as flexible as they come. There were no limitations on what I wanted to study and because of this, I benefited from a very broad education indeed.Finally, not only is the undergraduate modern languages degree at Newcastle infinitely flexible and well taught,but there is a huge sense of community.

What are you doing now?

I’m lucky enough to have secured a graduate job straight after graduation with John Lewis on their Technology Graduate Scheme.Although I’m on what is called a technology graduate scheme, it’s actually 50 per cent learning about and working on projects to do with technology and 50 per cent management training, with the aim of making me the head of an area within ten years. More specifically, I am working on projects that make John Lewis and Waitrose work more efficiently behind closed doors, making it more user-friendly for the people who work within the company and, therefore, more appealing for the customer.

How did your languages degree from Newcastle University prepare you for your job?

What I do might look as if it has nothing to do with languages on the surface, but the communicationand people skills I acquired and developed duringmy degree certainly played an influential role in me getting my job. Plus, there’s a strong chance that I’ll be able to work on projects to do with the John Lewis Partnership’s plan to expand overseas!What’s more, the confidence you acquire with a languages degree really sets you above other applicants. In the real world, there are an awful lot of occasions where you have to speak to new people. From my experience it is language graduates who excel in this area. This is particularly pertinent after your year abroad – once you’ve spent a year immersed in the culture of a foreign country you find yourself thinking you can do anything, which is a valuable mind-set in the real world.