Language graduate as entrepreneur: is this your career option?

A dictionary page showing the word

Dictionary entry for "entrepreneur"


As a language graduate you have probably already contemplated traditional career paths, but have you ever thought about using the flexibility that your degree holds to explore other routes into employment like becoming an entrepreneur?


In these activities you will explore various entrepreneurial skills, reflect about your own skills and on how to enhance your career prospects in a highly competitive labour market.

Activity 1: Who is an Entrepreneur?

The word "entrepreneur" is a loanword from French; the verb "entreprendre" means "to undertake", with "entre" meaning "between", and "prendre" meaning "to take". An entrepreneur is someone who is able to organize and manage a business undertaking and assumes a risk for the sake of profit. National TV in UK has been broadcasting few succesful series regarding entrepreneurship.


In this activity you will be watching two videoclips from a very well known TV serie called "DRAGON'S DEN" which you might have heard of. Focus on the words and examples provided by Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden to highlight some good tips that entrepreneurs should follow to run successful businesses. Make a list in the text box provided below.


Write your list of Good tips to run successful businesses drawn from what you heard in the videoclips above.

Activity 2: Have you got the right skills?

Only few people have all the skills needed to run a business and although the answer to whether entrepreneurial skills could be taught or are simply innate is debatable, it seems that at least some of the skills can be learned; and even when this is not possible, one could always compensate for their weaknesses by employing staff or consultants. One way to decide where you are in terms of skills at present is to evaluate your job experiences, voluntary work, hobbies and interests, personal traits, acquired skills etc. At the end of this activity you should have a clearer idea of what you could bring to a new business and what you should work on improving.


Check what you can do and what you need to improve in terms of basic skills needed to move your first steps into entrepreneurship: could this career option be for you? Tick the boxes which best describe your skills at present: be honest and objective. Then check feedback.

You might find useful to complete this grid to reflect on your actual skills before completing the activity below: SELF AUDIT GRID

At present I can...
  tick icon  cross icon
1. manage my time
2. understand and deal with income tax forms
3. present projects and sell ideas and products
4. demonstrate experience/familiarity in working or running a small business
5. handle criticism and rejection

What is next?
You should now be aware of the skills that you have already developed and the ones you need to develop further to be competitive in the job market and maybe start thinking about putting into practice a business idea. Obviously success comes at a price and if you do not have the right skills you need to invest time and energy to improve them or be honest and delegate some of them to a potential partner who might be more suitable. At the end of the day a good entrepreneur is not a single player and is not meant to be working alone: if you feel you are not cut for a specific task or skill, your best option, if running a business, would be to choose the right person to deal with that particular task: recruititng is another essential entrepreneurial skills. You might like to try some of the following suggestions to get an idea of entrepreneurship and training skills:

• Find out more about employability skills and maybe use other skills auditing exercises: check main careers website How to develop your employability
The Career Planning Guide has a useful chapter called Everything you do at Southampton counts which gives you ideas of ways in which you can gain work experience and skills
• Look at the Careers programme which has many Key skills workshops and sign up to attend those that may be of interest to you Careers programme of events at University of Southampton
• Keep an eye open for Skills sessions run by your academic School at the University
• Use the STUDENT ENTERPRISE WEBSITE to find out about what support is available at Southampton University (there will be similar support in almost all universities), from business surgeries to Fish On Toast, the University of Southampton's Entrepreneurs' Society, CLICK HERE

© Produced by Alessia Plutino, University of Southampton, 2010. Available to use under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives licence

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