Ruth Thompson, Newcastle University

Employer: Procter & Gamble

Degree: French and German with Spanish (2012)

What did you like most about your languages degree?

For me it was the year abroad. This is a time to not only hone your language skills, but try your hand atteaching, volunteering, working abroad and integrating into new communities. During my year abroad I learnt to sail in Austria, starred in a television documentary in Germany, led local tourgroups in France and volunteered in a Paraguayan orphanage!My language degree combined my passions for languages, culture, history and travel. I not only learnt how to conjugate verbs, but took modules in cinematic histories, politics and culture and even the geography of the countries whose languages I studied. I just loved the variety. I was also pleasantly surprised by the employment opportunities in languages. With businesses and organisations, like the company I work for, becoming increasingly international, demand for language capabilities is always increasing.Languages at university isn’t just about verbs, but about the countries and people too. I’ve learnt my skills through studying foreign media, hanging out with exchange students and travelling to different countries – what other degree could offer you this learning flexibility?

What are you doing now?

I went from languages… to finance! Not the most natural move, you might think, but really you’d be amazed at how much I use my degree every day.My work involves managing the payment of suppliers for two German factories which make Procter &Gamble products like Oral B and Vicks. I work alongside German speakers every day, communicating with vendors in Germany and with my factory contacts. I’ve also helped translate training documentation into French for the company. I love the international element to my job. I could be on the phone to three different countries before lunch and have even been invited on business trips abroad, thanks to my knowledge of the local lingo.

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

Studying modern languages at Newcastle really prepared me for my current role as it gave me the confidence to go beyond my comfort zone, both in planning my year abroad and ultimately in deciding on my future career and applying for jobs. Finance wasn’t something I had first considered going into upon graduation, but the confidence that Newcastle gave me in my language skills, and the freedom to pursue different options in my year abroad, meant I fully embraced learning a new skillset and adapting myself to a busy office environment. Languages broaden your horizons, open up fresh opportunities, and are invaluable to employers.