8 Career preparation tips for foreign language majorsIt is never too early to start planning what you will do when you graduate from college. In fact, the more consciously you plan, the better your chances of landing a job when you finish. You don't have to know exactly what you want to do when you get out of school in order to be honing your skills and gaining experiences that a future employer will find useful. As a language major, there are several things you can do while you are still a student to take charge of your future:
1. Spend a year or semester abroad.
An immersion experience will hone your language skills and allow
you to familiarize yourself with the target culture first-hand. If
you are a currently registered university student, visit your campus
study abroad office. Also be sure to check out our pages devoted to
abroad & Grants for
Institute of International Education: IIE has a network of 22 offices worldwide and over 800 college and university members. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government and private sources.Also see our list of books about studying abroad.
These are a good way to establish contacts and get relevant job experience before you graduate. 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.
CDS International: 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.
3. 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. A double major will undoubtedly give you the best possible chances at employment.
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. Contact professional associations related to your areas of interest and request information. Contact local professionals in careers that interest you and interview them and perhaps even shadow them for a day.
5. Browse job postings online.
Check online job
databases to familiarize yourself with the types of positions
that require foreign language skills. This will give you a feel for
the qualifications and experience that employers are seeking and will
help you take measures to better prepare yourself for your entry into
the job market.
6. Volunteer your language skills.
What 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.
Volunteer International: Search by country or by field for volunteer opportunities throughout the Americas.
7. Connect with the culture.
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 in the target language culture: Read a foreign language newspaper, subscribe to a foreign language news service online, 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. Here are 15 more ideas for maintaining your language skills.
8. Carefully plan your degree.
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