Upon graduation, I worked with both UW-Waukesha and UW-Milwaukee as an advisor with high school students, assisting them with the university application process. I also facilitated campus tours. In addition, I worked independently with the Waukesha County Police Departments as an on-call translator when needed.
In 1997, I started working with my current company, American Enterprises. We finance direct sales for consumers. I started out as a translator and interpreter and by traveling to visit and train our Spanish-speaking dealers on procedures and operating systems. I now do about 90 percent of the company travel.
I really wanted to enrich my proficiency in Spanish. I had grown up with it at home, but never really "studied" it. I loved being able to read different pieces of literature and just having my eyes open up to a world larger than just the "Puerto Rican" Spanish that we spoke at home. I really enjoyed my Portuguese and Italian studies, I just wish I had been able to use them more upon graduation because as the saying goes, "If you don't use it, you lose it."
I really would not be where I am today without my knowledge of the Spanish language. I would not have my position nor would I have been able to travel to all of the Spanish-speaking countries that I have been to.
They were more intimate. I enjoyed them because the classes were smaller and the students just seemed to be a bit closer and had more communication than, say, a lecture hall with 200+ students.
I use my Spanish every day at work and at home. My wife and I are now proud parents of a 2-year-old daughter and we are making sure that we incorporate the Spanish language into her daily vocabulary so that when she gets older, she can fully take advantage of her knowledge of the Spanish language.
Don't be afraid to use your ability. Unfortunately, I think that many people are afraid to use a foreign language because they think that if they say something wrong, they will be made fun of. The truth of the matter is, people are more willing to help you out and appreciate the fact that you are speaking to them in their language and making the effort.