CLAS Graduate Profile

Gerry McAuley completed his BA in Hispanic Studies and Philosophy in 2011 at the University of Liverpool. He then stayed on to study for a Master’s degree in Modern Languages, for which he won a scholarship from the AHRC. Gerry reflects on the highlights of both his undergraduate and postgraduate career at Liverpool, and tells us how it helped him to secure a competitive job as a headhunter in a search company.

One of the highlights of my undergraduate degree was my year abroad, where I worked as a British Council Language Assistant in a school in Albacete, Spain. I had a fantastic year and made many life-long friends who I still see once or twice a year either in Spain or in the UK. Those relationships are invaluable and, if nothing else, give you a much more varied and interesting perspective.
Gerry (centre) at a friend's wedding, overlooking the plains of La Mancha

Gerry (centre) at a friend’s wedding, overlooking the plains of La Mancha

The other benefits of the year abroad are numerous but I’d like to highlight some of the more unexpected ones: a heightened appreciation for British culture, and the realisation of just how important it is to focus on relationships with family and friends, as being away for a long time tends to make you realise how central they are to your long-term happiness. My Spanish ability improved massively too and I’d recommend taking up a sport as a way of meeting a lot of people. The year abroad is also fantastic for setting yourself apart and gives you something interesting to talk about in job interviews, particularly if, like me, you were doing two or three jobs while out there.

My Spanish skills helped me to secure a position at Warren Partners, one of the largest independent search firms in the country with a commitment to taking an ethical approach. I’m able to use my Spanish skills, which are very attractive to an

Gerry playing rugby for Albacete

Gerry playing rugby for Albacete

employer, as you can open up access to millions of people. I love my job as it constantly challenges me and I am always learning new things.  Thankfully my view that having a Master’s would set me apart in the job market has proved to be correct – I was able to secure a position before graduating, and the skills developed in my MA contributed greatly to this. It’s very easy to demonstrate you’re self-motivated and organised, in addition to being able to bring high-level analytical skills and a language to the business.

I’d advise anyone considering studying a language at the University of Liverpool to go for it. Aside from the benefits of improving your language abilities, Liverpool is an absolutely fantastic city. Several of my friends have ended up staying in Liverpool as it is just a great place to live, and I intend to settle here for good in a couple of years. Learning a ton of stuff about something which interests you isn’t the only benefit of university  — the effect it has on your life both personally and professionally is what makes it so worthwhile.