A year in Russia


My last couple of posts have been quite mopey- ‘I miss my friends/curry’ (but which do I miss more?)- so I feel it’s time to let you in on a secret. I have actually been doing things that do not involve whinging since I arrived here. I’m currently ill, some kind of flu thing, so I’ve plenty of time during my bed-rest to update you.

For us language students, it’s often a bit hit-and-miss with getting really good work experience during our degrees. Those of you who study European languages will be able to organise a placement during your year abroad without any visa difficulty since we (EU citizens) have the legal right to work in any member state. Obviously doing so depends on whether you’d rather work or do an ERASMUS exchange. For those of us going outside of the EU to Russia, the Caucasus, the Middle East etc etc, the quest for a decent CV proves a tougher challenge.

©comerecommendedDuring my first year at Bath, I was determined to get a work placement in Russia. I attended every networking event and every talk at which a company that had offices in Russia was present. All of them told me the same thing, “if you’re in Russia and you have a visa sorted, we’ll definitely be able to organise something for you”. OK, great.

But wait. I can only organise a student visa by myself which requires my attendance at school everyday. If I want a work visa, the company needs to sponsor me through the lengthy bureaucratic process and I’d have to fill a role that they can prove requires a foreign worker. So that means translation work. This leaves quite a catch-22; I need a placement to get a visa, but they’ll only give me a placement if I have a visa. Some have gotten around it through personal contacts, others have gotten around it by studying in Moscow (where the international organisations are generally based) and then getting work experience in their spare time/skipping classes. Main issue: one semester in Moscow is approx £1400 for 1st semester, £2000 for 2nd and accommodation prices are higher in the capital too. Not only is there the expense, but if you end up working in translation, you’ll be speaking mostly in English rather than focussing on improving your Russian. Furthermore, is your Russian actually good enough to keep up in a business environment?

I’ve chosen to study in Voronezh for the entire academic year and I won’t be padding out my CV during my time here. Instead, I’m focussing on making the most of my holidays.The year abroad is our ‘penultimate year’ so finally we meet the requirements to apply for summer internships with all the big companies.

Unfortunately for us, the applications for these mostly open in September, just when we’re settling into our new homes and going through the OMG-I-LIVE-IN-RUSSIA-I-MUST-EAT-LOTS-OF-BORSCH stage and it’s so easy to forget to apply. If only eating borsch improved my Russian…

I particularly want to go into procurement within the Oil and Gas industry so I’ve applied for the BP summer scheme (opened 16th Sept) and am now going through the members of Oil and Gas UK looking for other summer schemes that I can apply for and getting contact details for HR managers at companies that don’t offer official schemes. Hopefully, I’ll get a placement secured for the summer if I maintain this effort.

I know that filling out the forms is dull and I do want to be out and about exploring instead but the graduate job market is so competitive that work experience is definitely a priority. Make sure you start thinking ahead!

Featured Image copyright MIT Global Education and Career Development


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This entry was posted on 27 September, 2013 by in Journal and tagged , , , , .
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