Perhaps the pleasantest way of gaining experience abroad is to go to a foreign branch of some firm already established in Britain.
Every opportunity, of course, must be taken to speak the language of the country, and it is well to board with native residents who speak correctly, if the full benefit of acquiring the language is to be obtained.
Excellent evening classes in languages are, however, held at the various technical schools and polytechnics in towns all over this country, and it only remains for the would-be student to make inquiries at the centre nearest her office or home.
The fees for such classes are exceedingly reasonable, especially those under the control of the county councils. There are also circles formed by private persons for the study and practice of various languages, notices of which appear from time to time in various journals. Should more private instruction be preferred, it is a good plan to arrange with a teacher to give such lessons to a guaranteed number of students. The Object in View
If possible, the woman clerk should aim at the passing of some examination and the attainment of a recognised certificate, such as are offered by the London Chamber of Commerce, Society of Arts, Board of Education, and other educational authorities.
It is impossible to mention all the subjects that can be studied, as these must vary with the positions held. A change of work may discover the need of some special knowledge. A girl who had worked for years on purely commercial lines obtained a post on a fashion paper which led to some amount of editorial work, when the need of knowledge of the technicalities of dressmaking soon made itself felt. A couple of pounds spent on a course of scientific dress-cutting and the actual making of garments soon proved to be money well spent, and the evenings and Saturdays thus occupied were by no means wasted if only considered in regard to the immediate necessity. As a fact, she has gained knowledge which will be of value all her life, whether in business or at home. Domestic Subjects
It may be that there is no apparent advantage in studying languages, or evening work presents too great a tax on the strength; for the fact must not be lost sight of that after a long day in the office the brain must be more or less fagged, and it is folly to expect it to undertake too arduous tasks.
There are, however, other more recreative subjects which tend to the improvement and cultivation of any natural gifts.
It may be the case, too, that there has been little opportunity to devote time to the domestic subjects which every woman, whatever her occupation or profession may be, is bound to find stand her in good stead. Some lessons in scientific dressmaking will not be time and money wasted, for they will enable a girl at any time to cut out and make her clothes; or perhaps millinery may appeal to another with nimble fingers and good taste, and many a shilling will be saved when she trims and renovates her hats.
A very favourite class with many is the cookery class, the week-end affording an opportunity for practice.
Another girl with musical or dramatic gifts will find her recreation and relaxation from office work in taking up the serious study of some musical instrument or singing and elocution. Many have entered for examinations and gained coveted honours entirely by means of evening work. Such attainments can also be turned to monetary account, and the basis of an entirely new and more congenial profession be formed.
These last subjects may not bear directly on the more serious work in hand, but, inasmuch as they . tend to the general cultivation of the powers of mind and body, they are valuable.
The girl who is in earnest will not be content with a smattering of the subject selected, whatever it may be. The world is full of women who have a superficial knowledge of many things, but do nothing well, or who are content to go on in the same groove year after year without any initiative of their own.
The girl who is appreciated by those over her is the one who shows herself capable of rising to an emergency and who can think.
Such an one will find her work become interesting, although in its nature it may consist of doing the same thing day after day. The girl who is continually forgetting what was done in a similar case a week or month previously not only betrays her lack of interest in her duties, but adds greatly to the burden of those responsible for the conduct of the office.