Our Graduates and Employability Skills
Joanie Walsh, MA in French
I graduated from UCC in 1987 with a BA in French and Music. In 1988 I obtained a Higher Diploma in Education, taught for a few years at second level, then returned to UCC as a part-time student to do an MA in French. I really enjoyed the variety of topics on the MA course and the opportunity to study in detail the area of most interest to me.
Around this time, there were incentives for graduates to retrain as IT professionals. I was curious about the parallels between natural and formal language and decided to retrain as a technical writer. The change of direction was definitive - I’ve been working since then with various IT companies, initially as a technical writer and more recently, as a software engineer.
Looking back, I think the training I got at UCC was very appropriate to my needs at the time. I had a passion for language but didn’t really know where to take it. The BA and MA degrees awakened my curiosity in a wide range of areas. They enabled me to develop generic and transferrable skills in research and writing that eventually led to a field of work that is communication-based, dynamic and full of opportunity.
James Creedon, BCL (Law and French), Journalist, France 24
James works for the international News TV station France24 as a news reader and journalist and is based in Paris. James hosts the popular daily reviews of the French and International press each morning as well as contributing to the website.
“Having a degree in Law and French has proved invaluable to me as a journalist. I am able to apply my legal education to breaking news stories as well as being in a position to use my french every day.”
Erin Donnelly, Commerce International with French
My name’s Erin Donnelly and I’m a recent graduate from University College Cork. I studied Commerce International with French which involved studying a mixture of Business and French modules. I wasn’t sure which path to take immediately after university, but I knew my French wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be, so I wanted to do something that would allow me to continue to improve it. I applied to be a language assistant in France and I was offered a position in Guadeloupe, one of France’s overseas territories. I accepted and here I am now – five months in and loving it!
I teach in two lycees, live with a local family and am trying to fully embrace this melange of Caribbean/French life! There’s no way I’d have been able to make this move to Guadeloupe, to work and live here, had it not been for the fact that I speak French. You get a deeper insight into a country, its culture and its people when you can converse with locals. In Guadeloupe, having French is almost a necessity because very few people can communicate well if at all in English. Moving here alone forced me out of my comfort zone from the minute I stepped off the plane. Before, I’d say nothing for fear of making mistakes; now I speak whether it is correct or not. And surprisingly, mistakes and all, people understand me – and I understand them! It feels amazing when you reach the point when you can properly express yourself in another language. I love the fact that I’m able to live independently in another country, open a bank account, join a local phone network etc. Who would have thought that performing normal day to day tasks through another language would feel like such an achievement? But it does. I really think having a second language puts people at an advantage in life. Especially for those who are keen travellers. It opens opportunities that wouldn’t be possible without another language.
Kate Hiney, BA International, European Parliament Trainee
My time in UCC has been hugely beneficial in my life, not only academically but personally, as well. In 2017, I came away with a BA International degree in French and Spanish and a family of friends that both push me forward into the world. After UCC, I went on to undertake the MSc. Women, Peace and Security programme in LSE, London. This allowed me to study the Women Peace and Security (WPS) agenda created by the UN, issues facing women in conflict and post-conflict settings and specialise on the use of women by terrorist organisations as suicide bombers.
In London, I also had the opportunity to teach Irish in a local community centre while working with Womankind Worldwide, a NGO based in London. Womankind Worldwide is committed to the end of early child marriage, violence against women and FGM and the work done by everyone I met there was a true inspiration.
Most recently, I began a 5 month traineeship with the European Parliament, Brussels, working on External policies and more specifically with the Security and Defence Sub-committee. Working in such a European context allows me to not only expand on my interests in the combination of gender issues and security, but it also provides me with the daily opportunity to make the most of my degree in French and Spanish from UCC.
Sarah Lyons, BA International, European Parliament Trainee
I graduated with a BA International (European Studies, French and Portuguese) in 2017. During my final year at UCC I had received the Government of Ireland scholarship for the College of Europe in Bruges; a post-graduate institution for European Studies. There I completed a MA in EU, International Relations and Diplomacy Studies. I really enjoyed the multicultural environment of the college. The campus is small and students from across Europe and beyond live together, study together and undertake group activities ranging from visits to the UN in Geneva to boat races in the Bruges canals. The degree was very varied with classes covering a whole range of subjects; including the global economy, conflict mediation and even Dutch language.
For my MA thesis, I looked at EU democracy promotion in Palestine. I am currently working in this area, by doing the Schumann traineeship at the European Parliament in the Directorate General of External Policies, specifically the Democracy and Elections Actions Unit. The Schuman traineeship is a wonderful experience for language graduates. Last week my unit organised the High Level Conference on the Future of International Election Observation which I was involved in running. I was extremely lucky to hear addresses by Mairéad McGuinness, Federica Mogherini and the President of the Pan-African Parliament, Roger Nkodo Dang. Living in Brussels is great. It allows me to practice my French skills and experience the European project which I have for so long studied up close, right in the heart of Europe. I will be forever grateful for the education I gained at UCC which has given access to the wonderful opportunities I have today.