19 March 2020

My UEA Story: Bonita

Languages and Communication Studies Alumni

Job Title: Company Secretary
Employer: Overseas Development Institute
Location: London

Please explain how your career has developed since graduating.

I got my first role after applying for an advert in The Guardian for a French speaker to help a small media firm in their work with the International Olympic Committee. The role involved basic admin, reception work, plus some research and translation.

I then moved on to working for AVERT, an international HIV and AIDS charity, before joining the Overseas Development Institute as the assistant to the director. I am currently the company secretary – this is the most senior role I've held to date, and is a considerable step up in terms of responsibility.


What is the most rewarding aspect of your current role?

The variety of the job.


What steps did you take in finding employment (e.g. careers centre, job websites, networking events)?

I used a variety of job websites to search for interesting positions, as well as checking specific employer websites.


What are the key skills you learnt at UEA?

Writing fluency, self-discipline, research skills and French!


How have they made a difference in your career?

Both my current and previous jobs require me to write extensively. I also use my French on a reasonably regular basis to translate funding opportunity tenders into English.


What piece of advice do you wish you'd received before you graduated?

Don't feel you have to know exactly what you want to do when you leave - you'll more than likely need to try a few different jobs before you settle.


Do you have any tips for current students or recent graduates?

Be open minded when you're job hunting - many of the skills you learn at university can be applied to more than the 'obvious' jobs associated with your subject.


What is the professional and personal value you place on being able to speak a language other than English?

My French language skills have been useful in every role, and in a number of cases have been the factor that helped to secure the job. The ability to write well and present confidently (both of which I learned at UEA) is also a must in any job.

Even if you don't use your languages every day for work, there are always situations when speaking another language can help to break down communication barriers - whether it's on holiday, or on the street in London!


Can you provide a short description of an incident from your time at UEA, your year abroad or your professional life which stands out (language related or not)?

Probably performing in Voyageur Sans Bagage in my final year with Sacre Théâtre - it was brilliant fun!

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