Corinne Leighton, Information and Data Analyst
Corinne, who graduated in BA French and Russian in 1999, discusses how the skills gained on her language degree led her to a career in data.
"I am an Information and Data Analyst for the Faculty of Arts, here at the University of Nottingham. (I still find it funny that I’ve ended up working for the University that I studied at)!
At A level, I took the the slightly odd combination of French, maths and further maths, along with GCSE Russian. I soon realised that a language degree would be the best choice for me as, along with developing my language skills, it would let me learn more about the history, culture, literature and politics of different areas of the world."
Languages would literally open up the whole world to me – and I was particularly excited about living in and visiting new countries.
Languages at Nottingham
"My first year at Nottingham was great fun and I was certain I had chosen the right course. My second year was my favourite, having the chance to start tailoring my module options to my interests.
In my third year, I spent 4 months studying at the University of Pau in France, followed by four months at a language school in Yaroslavl, a small town north of Moscow. I came back with a ton of amazing memories, and a huge improvement in both languages, which was a great help in my final year."
Discovering a talent for data
"Straight after graduation, I got an administration job in a bank. I then moved onto an administration trainee position at the University of Birmingham, before being promoted to a Student Records Manager. All of these jobs required me to work with data – from customer data, to student and financial data.
At the time, I thought the main reason I'd got these jobs was because of my A-level in maths. It didn’t occur to me that my language degree was actually more important.
Enjoying these data-related roles helped me to decide to apply for my current job at the University of Nottingham. I’ve now been working here for over 18 years, and really enjoy how I can combine my A-Level maths skills with the communication and analytical skills from my language degree."
"With hindsight, I can fully appreciate how my degree got me where I am today. Although I don’t directly use the languages that I studied in my current job, I use the transferrable skills from my language degree every day.
Data is a language like any other – it has its own structure, grammar, vocabulary, conventions and quirks, and the modern world really needs people who are fluent in it.
I use my listening skills to understand what problems can be solved with data, my reading skills to spot patterns and anomalies within data sets, my writing skills to write targeted reports and recommendations and my speaking skills to communicate with different audiences.
The time I spent learning to speed-read and summarise now makes it easy for me to synthesise vast amounts of information from different sources and my interpreting and translation skills are essential when dealing with colleagues who are unfamiliar with data.
Studying languages has also given me a lifelong passion for travel and allowed me to visit some amazing places and meet some amazing people.
If I could go back in time, I would still tell my 17 year old self to pick a language degree. Je ne regrette rien!"
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