Modern Languages

Employment Advice

The Spring 2012 Alumni Career Panel participants made the following suggestions to prospective modern language graduates.    

  • Start thinking about life after graduation well before your senior year.

  • Be patient. Not everyone is lucky enough to get a job in the career field that they want as soon as they graduate.

  • Don’t feel overwhelmed – you’re all very young! You make it up as you go to some extent.

  • Learn how to network. Be organized. Know your deadlines. Always follow up. Websites like USA Jobs sometimes only post jobs for a few days. Be diligent in your search.

  • It takes time to sort out your interests and to identify your talents. Look for experiences that will give you the chance to explore yourself and grow.

  • Keep your eye on the prize – be mindful before you graduate of how you want to use your experience (linguistic and cultural) in the future.

  • It is important to not settle for a job that does not give you the experience that you are looking for. Once you have decided what it is that you would like to pursue, simply pursue it. Be prepared to start at the bottom. It is easy to get distracted and to be complacent with a job that may not be fulfilling but pays the bills, student loans and other miscellaneous expenses.

  • You have to create a narrative and explain yourself and how you mesh with the position that you are applying for. Experience abroad, language study, and thesis topics in a foreign language on your resume can all become conversation starters in the job search process.

  • Language study helps you to learn flexibility and adaptability - make sure to know how to explain these invaluable professional skills.

  • Working abroad makes you more confident in yourself by having to adapt to a new culture, but also by having to work in another language and culture. If it is your hope to work and live abroad at some point, do so as soon as you can upon graduating. The longer you postpone it, the harder it is for you to go.

  • Language study is a skill that helps you to interpret meaning from words – this has many different applications in the professional settings.

  • Take language competency exams to have on record – this can lead to specific work and even bonuses depending on your area of expertise.

  • The day after graduation – you’re never stuck, be practical, do temp. work while you’re looking for your dream job, focus on building yourself up.

  • Research books, websites and blogs like Delaying the Real World: A Twentysomething’s Guide to Seeking Adventure (2005) about abroad opportunities and funding. The possibilities are limitless: Peace Corps, Fulbright, internships, non-profits, teaching English, etc.. The sooner you start thinking about this the better.