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Barbara Spina

My language skills were a great advantage both for impressing interview panels and in my work dealing with African and Asian studies at SOAS Library.

Year graduated from SOAS
1976 & 1984

Programmes studied
BA History (South Asia) & MA African Studies

Current job title and name of organisation
Head of Teaching & Research Support, SOAS Library, University of London

About me
I manage a team of subject librarians supporting teaching and research at SOAS through:

  • academic and student liaison
  • building up the specialist research collections
  • purchase of course reading list materials
  • research & information skills training
  • creation and development of online subject guides
  • collaboration with specialist professional groups

My first degree was in South Asian history, including Farsi (Persian) language, and my Master's was in African Area Studies, including Swahili language. I subsequently learned Turkish as well. My language skills were a great advantage both for impressing interview panels and in my work dealing with African and Asian studies at SOAS Library. At the moment, European language skills are much in demand, especially competing against EU applicants.

My job-seeking tip is to take advantage of every opportunity to broaden your skills and experience, whether paid or unpaid, whether part of your job description or not. Anything could give you the edge over other applicants.