Career Services

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Foreign Language

What can I do with this major?

Area

Employer

Information/Strategies

Government

  • Translation/Interpretation
  • Language Analysis
  • Linguistics
  • Diplomacy
  • Civil Service
  • Foreign Service
  • Immigration/Naturalization
  • Customs
  • Intelligence
  • Security and Protection
  • Law Enforcement
  • Journalism/Broadcasting
  • Federal government organizations including:
  • Overseas aid agencies
  • Intelligence and law enforcement agencies:
    • Federal Bureau of Investigation
    • Central Intelligence Agency
    • Drug Enforcement Administration
  • Department of State
  • Homeland Security including:
    • US Customs and Border Patrol
    • US Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Department of Defense including:
    • US Armed Forces
    • National Guard
    • National Security Agency
  • Department of Commerce
  • Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Peace Corps, VISTA, Americorps
  • Library of Congress
  • Voice of America
  • US District Courts
  • The government is one of the largest employers of people with foreign language skills. Consider studying a critical need language for the greatest number of opportunities.
  • Complete an internship with a federal agency and maintain a high gpa to be a more competitive candidate.
  • Learn government job application procedures. Plan to apply early and inquire frequently about job vacancies.
  • Review special hiring authorizations to be hired and to advance more quickly.
  • Participate in campus organizations and activities that promote interaction with international students.
  • Attend a specialized school that teaches foreign languages for additional training.
  • Live abroad and gain knowledge of politics and economics to prepare for a career in this field.
  • Increase knowledge of geography, history, and international affairs.
  • Join the armed forces as a way to get experience.
  • Consider earning a graduate degree for more job opportunities.

Industry and Commerce

  • Translation/Interpretation
  • Banking/Finance
  • Sales
  • Customer Services
  • Manufacturing
  • Logistics and Transportation
  • Engineering/Technical
  • Computer and Software Services
  • Research
  • Operations Management
  • Consulting
  • Importing/Exporting
  • Administrative Services
  • Advertising and Marketing
  • Human Resources
  • Law
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Import/Export companies
  • International companies including:
    • Foreign firms operating in the US
    • US firms operating in foreign countries
  • Manufacturers
  • Retail stores
  • Environmental firms
  • Consulting agencies
  • Sports organizations
  • Telecommunications companies
  • Computer and software firms
  • Advertising agencies
  • Professional associations
  • Law firms
  • Supplement coursework with business classes or earn a business minor.
  • Develop international competency by living and working abroad and by interacting with international students on campus.
  • Get involved in student organizations and seek leadership roles.
  • Research which companies do business with the countries in which your language of study is spoken.
  • Be prepared to start in a position in the US working for a firm with an overseas presence. Very few entry level positions are available in international business.
  • Some jobs will require graduate degrees in fields such as business, law, or related areas.

Travel and Tourism

  • Translation/Interpretation
  • Airline Services
  • Management
  • Booking and Reservations
  • Travel Services/Guidance
  • Ecotourism
  • Tour and excursion companies
  • Travel agencies
  • Hotels/Motels
  • Resorts
  • Restaurants
  • Airlines/Airports
  • Cruise lines
  • Railroads
  • Bus lines
  • Convention centers
  • Chambers of commerce
  • Take courses in hotel/restaurant administration or recreation and tourism management.
  • Get a part-time job in a hotel or restaurant to gain experience.
  • Spend some time abroad to learn about various cultures and traditions.
  • Brush up on your knowledge of geography.
  • Consider attending a travel and tourism school.
  • Develop office skills such as working with computers.
  • Show an attention to detail.
  • Read international newspapers to keep up with overseas developments.

Interpretation/Translation

  • Interpretation (Simultaneous & Consecutive)
    • Business
    • Conference
    • Escort/Guide
    • Judiciary (Court)
  • Translation:
    • Legal
    • Literary
    • Localization
    • Machine
    • Medical
    • Technical
  • Freelance
  • Educational services
  • Business services
  • Government agencies
  • Healthcare organizations
  • International organizations
  • Nonprofit and social service organizations
  • Courts
    Publishers
  • Libraries
  • Develop fluency in a second language. Seek out any opportunity to converse with native speakers to better learn the language.
  • Learn a third language for increased job opportunities. Some languages such as Middle Eastern or Asian ones are in more demand than others.
  • Gain experience through internships or volunteering.
  • Seek certification or accreditation from an interpretation/translation organization.
  • Being bilingual does not automatically qualify one to serve as an interpretor or translator.
  • Learn to listen to one language while speaking another at the same time.
  • Develop aptitude with computers and the Internet.
  • Interpreters and translators who have expertise in a particular area such as law or medicine may find more opportunities.
  • Develop skills in negotiation.
  • Learn to work well under stress.
  • Most people who work in this field freelance. Show ability, initiative and motivation as this is a very competitive field.

Service and Education

  • Translation/Interpretation
  • Teaching
  • Tutoring
  • Educational Administration Including:
    • Student Affairs
    • Study Abroad Programs
    • International Houses or Cultural Centers
    • International Student Services
  • Linguistics
  • Civil Service
  • Social Work
  • Mission Work
  • Library Science
  • Health Services
  • Counseling
  • Nonprofit or Public Interest Law
  • Research
  • K-12 schools, public and private
  • Universities/Colleges
  • Pre-schools
  • Professional language schools
  • English language institutes
  • Overseas dependents' schools
  • Foreign study exchange programs
  • Libraries
  • Adult education programs
  • Religious and volunteer organizations
  • International organizations
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Social service agencies
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Hospitals
  • Obtain state teacher licensure for K-12 teaching.
  • Earn a graduate degree for college or university teaching opportunities.
  • Develop superior written and oral communication skills in the English language including proper sentence structure and comprehensive vocabulary.
  • Minor or double major in another subject that you could also teach.
  • Get experience as a teaching assistant or tutor.
  • Become familiar with the cultural base of your language (literature, art, politics, etc.) as well as with cultural traditions.
  • Consider teaching English as a foreign language (overseas). Research courses and certifications for teaching English to non-native speakers.
  • Volunteer with government programs such as VISTA or community programs such as ESL classes.
  • Work abroad through volunteer programs or missions.
  • Plan to take both written and oral examinations to become an interpreter.
  • Notify local hospitals, schools, and chambers of commerce of your availability to translate or interpret for international visitors.
  • Earn a graduate degree in a field of speciality, e.g. Student Affairs Administration, counseling, or law.

Arts, Media, Entertainment

  • Advertising and Marketing
  • Translation/Interpretation
  • Journalism/Broadcasting
  • Photography
  • Writing
  • Publishing/Editing
  • Public Relations
  • Performing
  • Film Making
  • Museum Work
  • Museums
  • Foreign news agencies
  • Book publishers
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • TV networks
  • Radio stations
  • Film companies
  • Recording companies
  • Internet media companies
  • Advertising firms
  • Learn about the customs and culture of the country in which your language of study is primarily spoken.
  • Supplement coursework with related classes such journalism, photography, art, etc.
  • Spend time studying or working abroad.
  • Complete one or more internships in your field of interest.
  • Work at campus and local newspapers or radio and television stations.
  • Read international newspapers to keep up with developments overseas.
  • Listen to foreign broadcasts.

General Information and Strategies

  • Choose an additional academic area of study to supplement the foreign language, preferably one that requires a high degree of technical skill. Most people with foreign language ability use those skills to assist them in a different career field such as business, education, journalism, law, etc.
  • Choose which language and culture appeals to you most. Consider the level of foreign language ability you will need to acquire for success in your career. Possible languages to study: Spanish, German, French, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Hebrew, Arabic, and Portuguese. Some languages will offer more job opportunities than other languages in various industries or geographic locales.
  • Related courses to study include geography, history, civilization, foreign relations, international law, and world economics.
  • Plan to attend a private language institute to learn additional languages and cultures.
  • Travel to a foreign country or study abroad ininternational exchange programs to develop your language skills and international/intercultural competency.
  • Study and practice your foreign language skills by reading foreign newspapers, magazines, and books.
  • Seek opportunities to interact with international students on your campus or members of your local community. Host international students, join relevant student organizations, and participate in international campus events.
  • Watch foreign movies and listen to foreign broadcasts to maintain your fluency.
  • Volunteer your language skills to churches, community organizations, and programs that work with people who speak your target language.
  • Correspond with someone from a foreign country.
  • Contact professional associations and read their publications to learn about job opportunities.
  • Research job postings on the Internet to get an idea of jobs in which knowledge of a foreign language is useful.
  • Participate in summer programs, co-ops, and internships to improve your skills.
  • Network with others in the field to learn about job opportunities.
  • In general, international positions are competitive and difficult to obtain. Be very proactive in developing the skills and experiences international employers seek.
  • Get your foot in the door in domestic positions because many international employers promote current employees into international ones.

Last modified: Oct 20, 2011

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