Career Strategies

Preparing for a career in foreign languages

1. Know Thyself
     The first step on the path to identifying and pursuing your calling is determining who you are! Our staff wants to help you answer important questions like "What do I enjoy?" and "In what work environments do I excel?" For many ambitious and directed students, the process of self-assessment can be uncomfortable as well as rewarding – while it will probably help you affirm what truly engages you, it may also lead you to reconsider some of the factors that have informed your educational and career choices to date. Typically, the process of self-assessment includes identifying your personality, interests, and values – especially those you enjoy and would like to develop. You then ascertain how they affect or can be applied to various aspects of working life, such as:

     1. Work Environment – This includes several factors: the physical attributes of the work spaces (e.g. aesthetics, safety); sociological and organizational aspects (e.g. organization size, structure, culture); people (e.g. colleagues and clients)
     2. Lifestyle Implications – This includes considerations such as income, benefits, security, prestige, autonomy, working hours, flexibility, pressure and commute
     3. Job Tasks/Skills – Your function in an organization and the tasks you perform (e.g. marketing, production, human resources, management)
     4. Profession/Field – The substantive mission or service of an organization, your general career field.

     Meet with a counselor in Career Services to discuss your major and career options based on your interests, skills, abilities and values, and to participate in self-assessment testing. Career Direct is offered to all freshmen Grove City College students free of charge. We also offer a number of other assessments including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and the Strong Interest Inventory.

2. Declare a double major
     Today's global and rapidly changing job market demands employees who are flexible and who possess a broad range of skills. Combine your language major with something that is complementary and that fits your skills and interests. Studies have been conducted to determine the incidence of various college majors in combination with foreign language skill. Ranked in order of frequency, they included: business administration and management, marketing and sales, engineering, finance, international relations, accounting, economics, communication, law, public relations, advertising, journalism, statistics, psychology, cultural studies, public administration, sociology, political science and fine arts. A double major will undoubtedly give you the best possible chances at employment. Many major companies also incorporate foreign language into their training programs or hire individuals who have combinations of skills, including ExxonMobil, Citigroup, General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Texaco, IBM, General Electric, DuPont, Procter and Gamble and Westinghouse.

3. Take advantage of study abroad, volunteer, or internship opportunities
     An immersion experience will hone your language skills and allow you to familiarize yourself with the culture first-hand. These are a good way to establish contacts and get relevant job experience before you graduate. Visit our Office of International Education in HAL 319 and see our list of books about studying abroad in the Career Library in the PLC. Oftentimes a successful internship can lead to a long-term position. These may include work training experiences overseas or internships in your home country in which your language skills may be viewed as valuable.  Consider the following internship providers:
     • Cultural Vistas: Summer and short-term (up to 18 months) internships. A variety of practical training opportunities for young professionals, students, educators, as well as labor, business and government representatives.
     International Cooperative Education: Provides American college and university students with the opportunity to gain practical work experience in summer internships in Europe, Australia, Asia and South America. Internships are available in a range of employment fields including retail sales, hospitals, banking, education and engineering.
     Interexchange: Promotes international understanding through affordable intercultural and educational work/training programs. It places participants in the United States and abroad through cooperation with international partner organizations and government agencies.
     Institute for Experiential Learning: Provides Washington, D.C.-based, substantive, academic credit internships to college students from the U.S. and abroad. Programs include The Capital Experience, Embassy and Diplomatic Scholars Program, and Building Democracy.
     U.S. Intelligence Agencies: Describes the many internship and fellowship opportunities in the Intelligence Community, many of which culminate in a full-tie employment within an Intelligence Agency. Of particular interest to language learners is the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program (PRISP), the objective of which is training and recruitment of analysts and linguists in certain critical areas.
     USAID Internships: USAID offers student volunteer intern positions in its efforts to extend assistance to countries recovering from disaster, trying to escape poverty, and engaging in democratic reforms.
     Student Jobs in Government: One-stop shop for information on government agencies with student employment opportunities.
     Idealist: Thousands of non-profit job, volunteer, and internship opportunities in 165 countries.

     There is probably no better way to gain some experience for your resume than to offer your language skills to non-profit or community organizations or in local hospitals or schools. There are also many short- and long-term international volunteer opportunities that require the ability to speak another language. Develop new programs on campus through groups like Alpha Mu Gamma Foreign Language Honorary. Some useful websites are:
     • Idealist: Search by country or by field of interests for volunteer opportunities throughout 165 countries.
     • Volunteer International: Search by country or by field for volunteer opportunities throughout the Americas.

     Your language ability is a great asset as an important conduit to the culture and people who speak that language. Make sure you keep up on happenings abroad: read a foreign language newspaper, subscribe to a foreign language news service online, connect with alumni overseas via our Alumni Directory, or get an international pen pal. These language contacts will keep you in the know on current issues and they will also help you keep your language skills current.

4. Research occupations in languages
     Educate yourself about the various careers in languages. Not only will you learn which of these best fit your interests, but you will also learn what additional skill sets you might need to obtain.  Some good resources are:
      • Occupational Outlook Handbook: Find out about the nature of the work, working conditions, earnings, training, and job outlook for an array of occupations.
      USA Jobs Career Center: Assess your skills and interests and match them to suitable jobs.
      U.S. Department of State Careers: Careers in diplomacy in over 265 locations worldwide.
      Peace Corps: Extended volunteer opportunities in many countries.
      American Translators Association: Learn about the translation and interpreting professions.
      TESOL Careers: Find out about careers in teaching English as a second language.
      • International Careers: A series of articles about working abroad as a career choice.
      Goinglobal: Information about finding a job in 30 different countries, cultural information, relevant news, lots of articles and resume tips.

5. Join a professional association
     There are myriad professional associations for foreign language majors. Student membership is relatively inexpensive, and the benefits are big! Membership can provide many benefits a better understanding of what working in the profession is really like; notification opportunities for additional training and certification; inclusion in a directory that potential employers might use for hiring purposes (and you can use for locating organizations); and access to actual job listings and referrals. Some Professional Associations & Organizations are:
     American Association for Applied Linguistics
     American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages offers oral proficiency testing in more than 100 languages and writing proficiency testing in 18 languages
     The American Association of Language Specialists (TAALS) includes online directory of members
     American Translators Association
     The Federation of International Trade Associations
     International Association of Conference Interpreters

6. Try job shadowing or information interviewing
     The GCC Alumni Directory is a database of alumni who have volunteered to assist students and recent graduates with career and job search needs. Users may search for alumni based on several criteria, including geographic location or occupation. Students may then contact the alumni they have chosen by e-mail or telephone for such requests as career advice or referrals to summer jobs, internships or full-time employment. You may also use this resource to interview alumni and perhaps even shadow them for a day. By talking with individuals, you can gain a better idea of how your skills and experience fit into specific industries and career fields, find out first-hand what type of work environment different jobs offer, target your future career searches, market your skills more effectively to employers, and build your confidence in approaching others.

7. Visit Career Services (again and again)
     Meet with a counselor in Career Services for advice on career and grad school options. Schedule an appointment by calling x3371. Consult with your advisor early and frequently to ensure you are getting the best possible combination of courses. Especially when choosing electives, you will want to choose courses that complement each other.

8. Create an "International Inventory"
     An International Inventory helps you think about your experiences and qualifications, and decide how they are applicable to the work you want to do. The first step is to make a list of all of your international experiences, regardless of their relevance to your job search. This gives you confidence about your ability to work outside your home country and helps you position your experience for interviews. You are looking for all the experiences and skills that will help position you effectively.

Previous International Experience
     Doing What?
     How Long?

Domestic experiences and skills that are relevant to an international career
     • Academic – Language study, courses studied in school, extracurricular activities
     • Work – Any international aspects to any of your previous jobs?
     • Hobbies and interests – Any interests in the music, literature, or art of other countries?

Personality traits that will help you thrive outside your home country
     According to "The Guide to International Careers," there are six personality traits required to thrive when spending an extended period of time in another country:
     1. Open-mindedness
     2. Flexibility
     3. Ability to cope with ambiguity
     4. Relational skills
     5. Emotional stability
     6. Intellectual curiosity

Think about situations where you have demonstrated these traits. What was the outcome?

Now you have the material to create a compelling story about why you want to pursue an international career. Consider the following 10 questions:
     1. Why do you want to work overseas?
     2. Why do you want to work in this country?
     3. Why do you think you will be able to work in this country?
     4. What have you done to demonstrate that you can thrive overseas?
     5. What personality traits do you have that show why you are suitable for this position?
     6. How will I know that you won't go home after six months?
     7. You have no prior overseas experience. Why should I hire you?
     8. How have you prepared for a career overseas (in this country)?
     9. What is the toughest situation you have worked in?
     10. What is the most challenging personal situation you have been in?

More Information

B.A. in Spanish

The Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish has been developed to enhance the communicative, cultural, and vocational benefits of language study. Our students prepare for success in careers, graduate studies, and their personal lives.
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B.A. in French

​The Bachelor of Arts degree in French equips students to become skilled participants in today’s increasingly complex and interconnected world and prepares them to excel in both graduate study and a wide variety of careers.

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Minor in Chinese

​A minor in Chinese consists of 21 credit hours of Chinese courses beyond Chinese 101 and 102.

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International Affiliations

​Grove City College International Study Partnerships are unique: they are College run and managed partnerships with universities in the host country, so you’re not only getting an international education, you’re doing it with peers from Grove City College.​

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​Many students studying a modern language at Grove City College prepare for careers in translation, teaching, government, social work, bilingual services, interpretation, and foreign service by interning at various organizations and businesses domestically and abroad.

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Undergraduate Research Opportunities

​The Department of Modern Languages at Grove City College offers students the academic freedom to conduct meaningful, relevant research alongside experienced and accomplished faculty.

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