When I was invited to speak to language students at the University of Hull, where I myself studied from 1997 to 2001, I knew it was going to be a pretty surreal experience, having not been back to the city since my graduation day in the summer of 2001.
Needless to say, I was quick to accept the invite and plan a little trip to the UK around the scheduled date. A plane, a few trains and a taxi later and there I was, standing outside the front of the university's main entrance, 16 years after I last did so.
The aim of the event was to provide current language students with some insight as to the wide variety of jobs that they could get into on the back of their languages degree. A wide variety of companies and alumni were invited to prove this very point, demonstrating that there's a whole lot more out there than 'teacher' when it comes to possible professions, contrary to what many would have had me believe back in 'my day'... A great initiative and one that unfortunately, yet unsurprisingly, hadn't yet been developed in my days as a student.
In outlining my career path over the last fifteen years - from university student adviser, to web editor, to motorsport PR and press officer, to translator - I hope I was able to inspire some of the students, and even encourage them to consider taking their degrees overseas as I have done. I was very surprised to find that I was inundated with follow-up questions from them at the end of the session, as they sought further advice across all the fields in which I have experience. A really useful and enjoyable afternoon, for me at least, though hopefully for the students too! I'd be very interested in doing more in the way of student mentoring in the future... I was also pretty proud to hear that my picture has been hanging on the admissions office wall for the last few years - I popped over to take a photo of my photo, as you do, but would you believe they'd taken it down just days before to update the logos - ufff!
I also made sure to pop out and check whether my old uni house was still standing - I can confirm it is, quite surprising in itself, though not as surprising as the fact that the main student union bar, quite probably the space in which I spent most time throughout my three years in Hull, is NO MORE! And if the busy library was anything to go by, it would appear today's students might actually be concentrating more on their books than their beer - times sure do change :-)