'I truly believe my international experiences helped me stand out from other candidates when applying for work after I graduated. My European placements gave me a passion for new experiences, to see the world and for gaining an understanding of other cultures.’ Jon Campey, former student and Erasmus+ participant
Fifteen years after applying for his first European placement at college, Jon Campey is convinced the opportunity to study and work abroad had a profound effect on his life, from opening his eyes to different cultures to helping him succeed in the world of work.
I found myself at a crossroads
I decided to leave school when I was just 16. I’d only completed one year of sixth form, but poor exam results made me question my ability as a student, and I suffered from a huge lack of confidence. I found myself at a crossroads, unsure of which direction my future was heading. The only thing I thought positively about was my football ability, so I decided to apply for a BTEC qualification in Football Studies - Performance and Excellence at Thomas Danby College, now Leeds City College.
The turning point
During my first year, the college’s International Coordinator came to talk to us about the Leonardo da Vinci programme, which is now part of Erasmus+. There was an opportunity to apply for a three-month placement in Finland, but I wasn’t sure I could spend that long away from home. Thankfully, the International Coordinator gave me the advice and support I need. I applied and got accepted!
I travelled to Finland with three other students to play football for FC KooTeePee in the town of Kotka. It was such an amazing experience. It helped me grow both personally and professionally and gave me an idea of the direction I wanted my life to take. I enjoyed my time there so much that, after completing my studies at Leeds, I returned to Kotka for another year. I had left school two years earlier questioning my abilities, but my experiences in Finland gave me a focus and confidence that I would not have gained otherwise.
A passion for new experiences
I was lucky enough to be accepted on another European placement — this time while studying for a Bachelor’s Degree in Podiatry. I travelled to Spain to learn about how healthcare was practised there, and how the techniques and practices compared to the UK system. Again, it was a fantastic opportunity to experience another way of life, learn another language and make lifelong friends from Spain and further afield.
I truly believe my international experiences helped me stand out from other candidates when applying for work after I graduated. My European placements gave me a passion for new experiences, to see the world and for gaining and understanding of other cultures. Since graduating, I’ve lived in Australia and travelled around New Zealand and South America. I’ve worked for the NHS and in private healthcare settings, and I’m now a Band 6 Specialist Podiatrist in Sheffield Teaching Hospitals. I’m convinced my personal and professional development would not have been so significant had I not applied for that first placement 15 years ago.