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Meet our graduates: Hazel Wilson

A Policy Manager in International Futures within Scottish Government, Hazel graduated in 2010 with an MA Hons degree in French, Italian and EU Studies.

Photo of language graduates
Hazel (second from right) participating in a panel event at LLC. Image © Graham Clark.

Hazel Wilson is from Dunfermline in Scotland and, having lived and worked in four European countries, is now based in Edinburgh.

Returning to Scotland from Europe in the summer of 2013, she has progressed through several different roles within Scottish Government, including Deputy Private Secretary to the First Minister, a role she considers to be one of her biggest achievements.

“I distinctly remember being told while still in High School that combining EU Studies with languages would open more doors later down the line. Little did the [person] know that this would be of particular relevance now, with Brexit and the current political climate - international and domestic.”

“I was always interested in languages and the opportunities that they bring, in particular travel and meeting people from different places and cultures. [Studying them] has allowed me to work in Italy, France and Belgium, setting me up for my current role, as had I not gained experience in my previous jobs I would not have the position I currently hold in one of the best cities in the world.”

My options after graduation were as many as I could be creative

Looking back on her time at the University of Edinburgh, Hazel cites her Year Abroad as a particular highlight. In fact, this aspect of her studies was part of the reason she came to study here:

“Edinburgh seemed the perfect place to do my degree as it had the good connections with international universities for Erasmus and its reputation is first class. There's a sense of pride in telling people you graduated from Edinburgh.”

“The Erasmus year was a particular highlight, one semester in Brussels (I had dreams of becoming an interpreter) and the other in Verona. Most of the learning took place outside of the classroom and I grew a lot as a person during that time. It also helped me decide that interpreting was not what I wanted to do and that my options after graduation were as many as I could be creative.”

“There are many ways to get a job in government, I did not come in through the front door per se, but via an alternative path which gave me the skills and experience required and the creativity to adapt to situations in order to achieve my goals. There is a high degree of opportunity as to where languages and culture studies can lead you.”

Diversity and work/life balance

Many of the languages taught in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) can be taken by complete beginners, whether studied to degree level, or simply as an outside subject in the pre-honours years.

Hazel began learning Italian in her first year at LLC, and says: “I really liked the tutorials. The intensive approach really helped me - even though it was a bit of a shock to the system at the time, it served me well in the long run.”

“My programme was diverse, and the triple-strand kept me interested. There was a variety of people from different backgrounds, [and] I'm still in touch with a few of the people I studied with, even though we're spread across the world.”

“In terms of what keeps me going [it’s] plans for the future, setting myself challenges and focussing on work. That said, I strongly believe that a good work/life balance and spending time with loved ones are key. The same goes for good mental health. I think now, more than ever, people are aware of how this can impact your life and work so it's important to keep talking.”

Are you interested in studying languages at LLC?

We offer one of the widest range of languages of any UK university, including all six official languages of the United Nations, and eight of the languages of the European Union. We also offer an extensive range of joint degrees, for example, two languages, or a language with Business, International Business, Social Policy, Politics and more.

Find out more about studying undergraduate French and Italian

In November 2017, we were delighted to welcome Hazel back to the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) to talk to our current, final year students about life after LLC. 

Read our feature on Life After LLC

Related links

Read our feature on mental health and wellbeing on your year abroad