Facilitating graduate employability in the field of Translation and Interpreting (T&I) presents a number of challenges: graduates have developed highly specific skills, and these skills can lead to careers in many different fields. Besides, the career of a translator or interpreter can take many shapes, from in-house work in an agency or company, to working for international organisations, businesses or free-lancing. However, while university Career Services can support students thanks to their expertise in job search strategies, they don’t necessarily have the resources or knowledge of these very specific professions to fully grasp the very diverse range of pathways open to expert language graduate, nor the contacts in the industry that may benefit students and graduates.
This study is based on a model adopted by the Languages and Intercultural Studies department (LINCS) at Heriot-Watt University in 2007, and it is still used today: that of a targeted T&I alumni mailing list, designed firstly to distribute specific information about opportunities (volunteering, internships, ad-hoc assignments, jobs, recruitment competitions…) and secondly to develop a strong LINCS T&I alumni networks, fostering a sense of community and belonging amongst graduates.
Considering the concepts of employability (Webb, 2010 ; Fugate, Kinicki and Ashford, 2003) and the significance of networks in terms of graduate employability (Tholen, Brown, Power and Allouch, 2013; Bardon, Josserand and Villesèche, 2015; Ebert, Axelsson and Harbor, 2015; Bellier, 1997; etc.), the study analyses the results of a survey distributed to members of the mailing list between June 2017 and December 2018 with the aim to assess the impact, benefits and limits of a targeted alumni mailing list for career development. It then looks at the impact of the mailing list on its members’ sense of belonging to a community, and the repercussions for students.