Languages Connect is an integral part of the Strategy for Foreign Languages which sets out a roadmap to put Ireland in the top ten countries in Europe for the teaching and learning of foreign languages.
Specialising in foreign languages can lead to a career traveling the globe as an interpreter, diplomat or foreign correspondent, giving you a front-row seat to watch history unfold.
Amost any career from finance, to law to engineering can be transformed by studying a foreign language.
If you are still in school, choose at least one language subject to keep your options for the future open and so you can include it on your CV.
The languages sector is about communicating. Language skills enable us to exchange ideas, buy and sell, discover and function, learn and teach, work together and make connections.
Fiona Uyema is a TV cook, author and founder of a Japanese food company. Fiona has spent time living and working in Japan, being able to communciate in Japanese has been hugely significant to her career.
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
I believe studying languages and traveling provided me with valuable skills and an open mind which I have used in a number of jobs in my career. I've worked in multinational companies with work colleagues from around the world. An understanding of studying a second language and other cultures provides cultural awareness and more understanding with people.
I found my work experience in transition year to be extremely useful also. I thought I wanted to be a Vet, however after a few weeks work experience I realised it may not be the job for me! I also believe having a part time job working as a waitress over the summer helped me to understand the value of money and the importance of education to work in a job better paid with better benefits.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
My mother and older siblings were all very supportive of education, study and advancing to college. It was really important for me to have my older siblings to talk to when I was filing out my CAO form as it felt like such a big decision and I was so confused! I also heard that an older sibling of a girl in my school year had studied a similar course I wanted to study so I used my initiative and arranged a casual meet up with her.
It was really useful to hear her thoughts and experiences.
When I was in school I knew I wanted to travel and study languages however I wasn't 100% sure what I wanted to work at. I think it's a lot of pressure. Now I tell my kids that it's ok to change career as you will use your learnings from previous jobs. For example, I was an English teacher in Japan for 2 years. I used the public speaking skills I learned in Japan to do corporate presentations in my next job.
How did you go about getting your current job?
Describe a typical day?
I aspire to work 5 days a week (8am to 4pm) however since I am an entrepreneur who founded a start-up food company so my working hours can be less or more depending on the week and its demands. I don’t have a typical day. The advantages to being my own boss is that I can be flexible with my time to suit my family (I have 2 kids). This is really important for me. In turn, I need to make up for this time another way so I often work after the kids go to bed and sometimes I need to work on the weekends (in this case I’ll try to get another day back to spend time with my family). Balance is really important for me. Running my own company is demanding and challenging however I love what I do so I wouldn’t change it for anything!
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
TV cook - give cookery demonstrations on TV (buy and prepare food in advance, clean up etc).
Cookbook Author and food writer - spend time at my laptop writing recipes or articles for my cookbook or main print media or online platforms.
Keynote speaker - prepare my presentations on powerpoint and prepare key points for every slide to prompt me while I'm presenting.
My range of retail food products: Design new products working with my design agency, regular calls with my large customers (supermarkets), regular calls with my sales and distribution partner.
Marketing - online strategy, social media etc.
What are the main challenges?
What's not so cool?
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
Personal skills - I meet a lot of people in my role so I need to be able to communicate well with people and understand different personalities
Cultural awareness - be aware of cultural difference and languages. I meet people from all over the World so it's good to have an understanding of different cultures and be respectful.
It's also good to have an understanding of some languages even to break the ice. Open to challenges and resilient - today's work environment is demanding so you need to embrace challenges (positive attitude) and try not to take things personally (be resilient).
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
What is your education to date?
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
Writing my own cookbook.
Winning "Easyfood Home-cook Hero of the Year" in the baking category.
Creating and designing my own range of food products which were awarded Best Sauce in Ireland at the "Irish Quality Food Awards".
Inspiring people to follow their passion.
Becoming an entrepreneur and founding my own company to turn my passion into a career.
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
What is your dream job?
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
When I was younger, one of the most important factors for me was to earn a really good salary as I wanted to be comfortable (my parents struggled financially so I didn't want to have the same struggles). However, I realised in my late twenties that although I wanted a good salary to be financially comfortable it was equally important for me to be as happy in my professional life as I was in my personal life.
I was working as a tax consultant and my job was well paid with great benefits. I was getting bored and frustrated with the lack of excitement. Overtime, I transitioned to work for myself in the food industry using all the knowledge and key skills I gained in all my previous jobs e.g. I've financial and tax awareness from my previous job.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?