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Heidi Nicholson (BA Italian and French 1995)


I graduated in Italian and French in 1995 and initially went to the University of Poitiers on exchange as a lectrice d'anglais. Returning to the UK, I worked for 5 years in industrial marketing consultancy before going freelance as an industry analyst for about a year. I then worked at the GLA as Researcher to Roger Evans AM. I moved back to the commercial sector working as a researcher and business developer at two successive recruitment companies. I set up a career counseling business which I sold to my business partner. I currently work for Jonathan Evans MP as his Senior Parliamentary Assistant.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Reading?

The modern languages courses were particularly attractive in terms of their match with my interests. Also, Reading had the country's leading Italian Department at the time. In addition, it was one of the few universities which allowed people studying two languages to split their year abroad.

What was the best bit about living and studying in Reading?

The camaraderie around the language departments. And in terms of living, the possibility of escaping to places like Sonning.

What top tips would you give to students who are beginning their studies?

Learn to reflect as well as do. Sometimes your best ideas will come at times when your mind relaxes.

How did you benefit from spending a year abroad?

All linguists study abroad but, besides the opportunity to improve your language skills, I would recommend taking the opportunity to live and work or study in another culture to anyone. I think it makes you more tolerant and flexible as a person.

What are you up to now? How did you get there?

Working for an MP which is as much a result of a life-long interest in politics as anything else.

What would be your top tips for students interested in working in this sector?

Network and volunteer to work on people's campaigns. That's how you get noticed.

How has the University of Reading and the Careers Centre helped with your chosen career path?

I didn't get my first 'proper' job in the UK until a couple of years after graduation due to further study. I haven't followed the most conventional career path to get to where I am today.

What are your top tips for students graduating this year? What should they be doing to secure the job they want?

if you know what you want to do work out what you need to do to get it, whether that is gaining work experience, additional qualifications or volunteering to take on projects. If you don't know what you want to do, give yourself time to try some things out and don't be afraid to move on if you find they are not for you.

Why did you decide to give to the University of Reading?

I think it is important to support the next generation of students.

What does the University mean to you and what is your favourite memory?

The University was a community where I have had the privilege to study with some great tutors and made some good friends. I have fond memories of being the President of the French Society (and of organising a day trip to France) and also of the French Cabarets which were great fun just before Christmas each year.



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