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Helen Campbell (BA German and French 1986)


After a few years as a UK Civil Servant, at the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 someone discovered I spoke German! Then I launched into a European career, first on the UK's European Fast Stream and then as a European official. A fascinating career which has taken me all over eastern and central Europe and as far as Afghanistan, and of course allowed me to use my languages just about every day. I am now part of the EU's European External Action Service and the European Union's Ambassador to Norway.

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

A good reputation on languages and the only place where I could do two languages as majors and split my year abroad evenly between two countries.

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

I have to admit the year abroad was probably the highlight! But the friends and the variety of courses in Reading too.

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

Pick something you really enjoy which gives you core skills and life experience and do not worry too early on about where exactly it will take you later.

If applicable, how did you benefit from spending a year abroad?

This was crucial in giving me confidence and inspiration to live and work abroad and also in getting my first job. I am still in touch with the friends I made.

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

EU Ambassador to Norway - a European diplomat.

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

Don't expect to jump into a career like this immediately so build experience towards it.

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

I got good advice on a Civil Service career, which I probably would not have thought about myself but which proved a very good fit for me, as I had a strong interest in politics and international affairs. I also did a Civil Service summer course thanks to good advice.

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

As a frequent member of interview panels, first impressions matter so have a good succinct and honest answer to why you want that job.

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

Reading gave me a degree, which has served me well, and good careers advice. Hard to single out just one memory as there were so many!

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