International Studies Major, Spanish Major, Polish Major
Without a doubt I could not work in my current capacity in sales/marketing for the Latin American region at Mueller Sports Medicine, a leading sport medicine accessory company. Spanish language studies have provided me a level of comfort and mastery to conduct business in Latin America. This not only means speaking fluently but also understanding regional and local histories, customs and culture. Thanks to this I am able to travel extensively through Latin America and interact with a diverse range of cultures. Spanish studies have really allowed me to realistically peruse my goals.
The professors maintain a high standard which pays off with better language skills in the end. It also helped me appreciate the value of studying literature for the development of analytical and writing skills - both fundamental skills in my profession.
Apart from the increased intellectual value, acquiring a second language like Spanish presents significant career advantages. Globalization is increasingly requiring Americans to become at least bilingual. As mentioned above, speaking a second language has opened up many career opportunities. I would recommend students to make every effort possible to study abroad and immerse yourself in the fields of interest. If possible study abroad for a full year as it typically it takes a semester to adjust to the new setting and a second semester to really improve your language skills. In addition I recommend students try to separate (but not isolate) yourself from your American/English speaking friends while abroad by renting with the local student/family population and making local friends – it might take you completely out of your comfort zone first, but the positive effects on your language skills and the new friendships will be long lasting. If your future career focus is on Latin America, I would also recommend taking at least an introductory course to Portuguese as Brazil is a quickly growing and dominant player in the region, and more positions are desiring Portuguese as well for Latin American positions. Also, consider living on the Spanish floor in the campus dormitories to practice your Spanish on a daily basis, especially after you return from study abroad. Finally, reach out to Alumni, friends and acquaintances that use a second language for work to see how they reached the position she or he is in. In this sense networking is key to landing a job.