Dan Cornford

BA Joint Honours French and Management

Dan’s experience of working with students as part of the International Welcome Team and as a voluntary classroom assistant has provided him with a number of transferable skills, which he hopes will benefit him in a future teaching career. A joint honours degree has also taught Dan to manage his time effectively between his academic and social life.

What do you hope to go on and do when you graduate from the University of Leeds?

I’m in the same situation as many final year students in that I don’t have any definite plans as yet. I’d like to teach and if I do, it will probably be secondary modern languages. I have some teaching experience and have really enjoyed it each time, and would like to keep using my language in my job. I’m also looking at taking a year out after I graduate to perhaps teach English abroad. The teaching experience would be great but I think a productive year out would stand me in good stead for any career path I choose to follow.

What skills and qualities do you think you’ve gained from your course?

First of all, the academic skills from my course: I’ve reached a good standard of French and my knowledge of French culture has increased greatly. The management side of my degree has taught me some valuable practical skills in a range of business areas, from marketing to decision making to accounting. I think I’ve become a lot more confident over the course of my degree, not only in my own abilities but also in communicating and interacting with other people, whether in presentations or group work. Spending a year abroad made me a lot more independent and outgoing and was just a great life experience. Lastly, one of the main benefits of my degree is that it has taught me to manage my time more effectively, both between the two subjects, and between academic life and social life.

What skills and qualities do you think you’ve gained from co-curricular activities?

The co-curricular activities that I’ve undertaken whilst studying at Leeds have really taken me out of the student bubble and into the real world. Acting as a classroom assistant in a challenging local primary school put me a situation I hadn’t been in for ten years and made me really think about the way I acted and communicated with the pupils, many of whom weren’t fluent English speakers. My work with the International Student Office gave me the opportunity to meet hundreds of new students, for many of whom I was the first representative of the university that they met when they arrived in Leeds. Working as part of a 70-strong Welcome Team improved my team work skills immensely; communication and cooperation were incredibly important.

How will these skills and qualities help you achieve what you want to do when you graduate?

Through all the activities I’ve taken part in at Leeds, I think I’ve built up a number of transferable skills which will help me throughout my career. I now have numerous examples of team work, customer care and leadership which I can use in interviews and reflect on if I’m faced with similar situations in the future. My experience with students I think will stand me in good stead if I do decide to go into teaching and just experiencing a bit of real life whilst still at university is a valuable eye-opener.

What has been your proudest moment while studying at Leeds?

Although exam results aren’t the be all and end all of being a student, I’m very proud of the results I’ve achieved over the last 3 years. I was also delighted to have been accepted to study at Pau Business School in France for my year abroad and even more so to have passed all my modules there, including coming third in my year group in the first semester exams. Lastly, many of the international students I met whilst working on the International Welcome Team this year seemed to genuinely appreciate the effort that we put in to make their first few days and weeks as trouble-free as possible. I think we were all very proud of the work we did to welcome them all.

How do you think you have benefited from studying at Leeds?

Coming from a small town, the experience of living in a city like Leeds has been incredible. There are so many academic and social opportunities within the university and also in the city itself. The University of Leeds is a great place to study; despite its size there’s a good sense of community and I’ve really benefited from the huge variety of modules on offer in both my schools. Although I haven’t experienced a French and Management degree at another university, I’ve enjoyed everything that Leeds has had to offer and am very grateful for the opportunities it’s given me.

What advice would you have for students just starting out at Leeds?

Take every opportunity you get. I don’t think people realise (I certainly didn’t) how quickly your time at university goes. First year especially is a rarity in terms of the relative lack of academic, financial or work-related restrictions so make the most of it. There are so many opportunities to take advantage of at university that you may never get a chance to do again: take a random elective just for interest’s sake, join a society that you never thought would exist, do a year abroad in a country you’ve never visited before. Obviously work hard and go out, but also take some time to find out what else the university has to offer.