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Irina Ene

MA Portuguese, Spanish and Latin American studies

Irina began researching Master’s programmes while she was still in Romania after her undergraduate degree and liked what she read about Birkbeck on the internet. The fact that Birkbeck is part of the University of London made it a very attractive option, and also proved useful during her degree as Birkbeck students have access to other libraries as well.

Irina completed the Master’s in one year and combined her study with various jobs, including administrative work, babysitting and pub work. Irina says: 'The evening study was an important reason for choosing Birkbeck as it gave me more flexibility to find work and pay for my studies while I was studying. It was quite tough to fit study around my jobs sometime but I didn’t miss a single class in the whole year and I’m very proud about that. I was also lucky that I was able to take a few weeks off to write up my dissertation.'

The other students that Irina met at Birkbeck have become good friends. She says: 'I’m still in touch with my classmates. I met some really interesting people and because everyone has such different backgrounds you learn a lot of new things just by talking to them.'

Before enrolling, Irina had read about the research reputation of Birkbeck’s Department of Iberian and Latin American Studies. When she arrived she found that the academics in the department were very well-prepared for lectures and seminars and that they were very helpful if ever Irina needed to speak to them outside of classes. She says: 'My tutor was very helpful and even brought books from his personal library for me when I couldn’t find them in the library. He recommended books to me and I used the library’s website a lot. I didn’t realise how important articles can be before I came to Birkbeck: it’s a different way of researching, which is one of the new things I’ve learned here.'

Irina enjoyed learning new research skills and was awarded a distinction in her dissertation. Her tutor encouraged her to research new areas and she admits that the idea of coming back to Birkbeck for a PhD is a temptation.

In the meantime, her degree helped her to secure her job doing market research in the beauty industry. Her employers were impressed with how she’d managed different jobs at the same time as her Master’s degree, and her Portuguese skills also helped her to get the job. Irina says: 'I can see in myself the new skills that I’ve developed at Birkbeck. It has given me more confidence on the UK job market: I feel like I belong here.'

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'I can see in myself the new skills that I’ve developed at Birkbeck.'