We interviewed Patrick Baskett, a French Language Student at the University of York who spent his year abroad working as a Marketing Intern in Germany. We discussed the process of job hunting, moving abroad, settling in and how the experience of living abroad has helped his French language skills.
What Did You Do For Your Year Abroad ?
I worked for a sports equipment company as a Marketing Intern. I lived in Strasbourg (the Alsace region of France) and commuted everyday across the border to Germany for work.
How Would You Describe Your Year Abroad ?
I would describe my year abroad as a lot of hard work- I was surprised with how different working for a company was compared to work at University. I struggled a little at the beginning because it was quite overwhelming, but luckily I was surrounded by a group of very supportive colleagues who helped me settle in.
My internship showed me my strengths & weaknesses and what I need to work on going forward. The experience was different because there were two national lockdowns during my year abroad, nonetheless, it was still an eye opening experience. I really enjoyed marketing and learning about the market and product. It also boosted my confidence, I was working on projects and communicating with clients that I never thought I would.
How Did You Find Your Year Abroad Work Placement ?
A representative from the Student Language Bureau contacted me on LinkedIn and sent me a list of placements. I was immediately attracted to my work placement because I really like sports and it would have given me the opportunity to incorporate my love of sports into my work on a daily basis.
What Was The Application Process For Your Internship ?
I applied for the job by sending in my CV, two weeks after applying I had an interview and was offered the job the next day.
What Three Pieces Of Advice Would You Give To Someone Who Is Starting The Application Process For Their Year Abroad ?
- Have an open mind- I was not too sure what industry I wanted to work in or where I wanted to live. I kept an open mind and looked for jobs in many different industries and areas of France. I never thought that Strasbourg would be the place I would end up, but it all worked out in the end !
- Be patient- It is not easy to get a job especially with the current situation of the pandemic and competition. If you start to become frustrated that could come through in your interviews which is not an ideal situation. Stay patient and positive- something will come through !
- Do what you think is suited to you- find a work placement that you think you will enjoy and be passionate about because this will reflect through in your application and job interview.
How Was The Process Of Moving Abroad ?
My process of moving abroad was different compared to some of my course mates because I have Spanish nationality therefore I didn’t have to do any extra paperwork.
Before I left, I ensured that I sorted out insurance with my University and applied for the Erasmus grant- my University were very helpful with this process.
I decided to start looking for an apartment early. I contacted the intern who was there the year before and asked for advice on where to start the search. I used a website called Le Bon Coin which is a online marketplace (very similar to Gumtree). I found an apartment fairly quickly and was able to apply around a month or two before I moved in. I found the process in France very different compared to the UK. At University for example, I applied for my second year accommodation in January and moved in around August time. Whereas in France, there is less time between finding your accommodation and moving in. The process may feel last minute but it is very important to stay positive and patient- it will work out in the end. However, it is important to note that there are many scams out there, so stay aware and try to visit the apartment before you sign anything. If possible view the apartment with someone who you know and trust.
Three Tips For Moving Abroad
- Start the process as early as possible- You need time to prepare- make sure that you give yourself enough time to ensure that everything is in place. From job hunting to moving into your new apartment, giving yourself plenty of time at each stage of the process will make the transition as smooth as possible.
- Find a job that suits you the most- Finding a job that suits you the most and you enjoy can make a huge difference during your year abroad. There may still be some challenges, but having a job that you look forward to going to can help make your year abroad an enjoyable experience.
- Enjoy the job- make the most of the opportunities that you are given throughout your work placement. Even though there may be times where it will be challenging- make the most out of the whole experience because it is all character building !
Three Tips For Settling Into Your New Town/City
- Familiarise yourself with your new surroundings- check out the local amenities e.g. supermarket, pharmacy and transport system. Also explore what your town has to offer- it may be worth doing some research about your new town/city before moving.
- Get to know your flatmates and meet new people- if you are living in a flat share, take the time to get to know your new housemates. Also, go out and meet new people be it through Facebook groups or joining a local sports team.
- Travel if you can- make the most of what nearby towns, cities and even countries have to offer.
How Has Your Experience Abroad Improved Your French Language Skills ?
My vocabulary has improved a lot over the last year especially sports vocabulary. I have particularly found that day to day communication with my colleagues has really helped me because I have learnt vocabulary that I would not have necessarily learnt at University. Since living abroad, I have noticed the English accent that I have when speaking French and have been working on speaking with a more French accent. I recently took the Erasmus language test and I went from a B2 to a C1 which I am very happy with.
Bonus Question- What was your go to choice at the Boulangerie ?
For me, I like to go for a simple Pain au Chocolat. It is simple, yet, if bought from the correct shop it is everything you look for in a pastry. One of the other interns at work, who is from a village in Alsace, did recommend a few local, traditional desserts such as the Streussel, which is a lovely cake, as well as the more well-known Mille Feuille.
If you are looking for a year abroad work placement we are currently recruiting for various positions which you can find on our job board. This is the link to the Marketing Internship that Patrick did... https://studentlanguagebureau.zohorecruit.com/recruit/ViewJob.na?digest=GZ0RfsqOPw1b6M.G6ekK2qlWshwxMCjwkQuTNMuv4Do-&embedsource=CareerSite