Mariana Reis, Executive Officer, Higher Education Authority
Higher Education Authority
Degree BA International Business and Spanish (DIT)
Languages Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian
Mariana Reis went to the 2014 gradireland language fair expecting to get a good chance to talk to employers but instead she found the fair opened the door to a new career.
Born in Brazil’s biggest city, Sao Paulo, she moved to Ireland at the young age of 19 in order to improve her English. Six years later she’s still here and works full-time with the Higher Education Authority (HEA) after a meeting with a HEA recruitment member at gradireland’s language fair.
At the time of the gradireland event, Mariana was still in college just finishing up a four year International Business and Spanish degree in DIT. “A career advisor told me about the language fair and recommended I talk to the HEA. They actually told me they weren’t looking for anybody at the time but I gave them my CV anyway in case any future opportunities should arise,” she says.
The HEA rang her two weeks after the language fair and after a quick meeting had “two/three weeks” of part-time work which got extended to June, and finally turned into a full-time position after she finished college in June.
She recognises it was her combination of an international business degree and strong language skills which gave her the edge in the recruitment process.
Opportunities that arise from language learning also gave proved valuable. “I’m an Executive Officer where I coordinate a programme of events with people like ambassadors for Erasmus students. I did Erasmus as part of my studies in Seville, Spain so I had experience in that area”, she says.
“Having foreign languages opens up more possibilities to expand into different things and just makes you and the company you work for a lot more dynamic”, says Mariana. The Brazilian graduate speaks four languages fluently; her native Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian.
“It’s mostly with Portuguese but sometimes a student or teacher will email from Spain or Italy so I respond to them in their native language. It ensures nothing is lost in translation”, she says.
The fact Mariana did an international business degree was important too. “The degree showed me nothing is local anymore. Everything is global and connected. So I took that experience and applied it to my job using languages”.
Mariana points out that the best thing about learning foreign languages is that you learn for personal fulfilment and satisfaction, but then the skills can be transferred over to your professional career.
“I love learning languages. I actually never thought of learning languages for my professional life. I’ve done it because it’s such a magnificent opportunity to meet lots of different types of people and have great experiences. But now in my working life, I’m beginning to recognise how it can enrich my workplace experience as well”, says the native Portuguese speaker.
Most of her colleagues are Irish and she has no plans on leaving the country she has called home for six years, but she encourages everyone to learn foreign languages, even if they don’t enjoy it so much at the start. “If you want to learn languages you need to get out and meet people. Dublin is brilliant for that because there are so many people from different countries with different languages. I, for example, never liked Spanish so much. But when I went to Spain on Erasmus and made Spanish friends, my opinion changed”.