Can I Major in a Language and Have a Career in Business?

In the Education Building at the College of New Jersey

In the Education Building at the College of New Jersey

During the February workshop for language students at The College of New Jersey, a student asked the following question:

I’m majoring in Spanish & minoring in French. I won’t have a degree in business, but I want a career in business. Can I do that?

I asked what industry he thought he’d like to work in and he said he wanted to work in an import / export company when he graduates. 

That’s a great industry for someone with language degrees! But you have to do your research and make the connections between your language studies and the business context explicit for employers.

What companies are out there? What kind of jobs are available?

Within specific companies,

  • What are their mission & values? 
  • What do they need their employees to do?
  • Do you have to be available to work flexible hours because their clients & employees are in every time zone around the world? You know something about that from studying languages & living abroad. 
  • Is it interpersonal communication skills across cultures (transcultural competence, as it’s sometimes called)? You’re getting that when you major in Spanish and minor in French.
  • Do they need people who can communicate in Spanish or French with clients, employees, and vendors around the world? You can do that!

IMG_4145Then the same student asked:

What if you’re assigned to translate a memo into Spanish for distribution among company employees in Puerto Rico and your Spanish isn’t quite good enough to do that perfectly?” 

My answer: be honest!  Say that you can write the memo, but that it might have some minor typos or subject / verb agreement errors.  Maybe they can refer you to someone in Puerto Rico who could proof read just for Spanish (not for content). Or maybe they need to find someone else to write that memo–but you can offer your skills along with an honest assessment of them.  

For me this is always the best part of traveling to lead campus workshops — working with students to puzzle out the best answers to these specific questions and craft resume lines that highlight the skills & experiences that make them truly unique.  

What are your specific questions about the job search? Post them here in the comments section. 

2009 Head ShotDarcy Lear is a career coach specializing in job search documents, professional school applications, and interview preparation. For one-on-one support in preparing for your job search or to set up a campus workshop, contact Darcy:
This entry was posted in Career Advice, Careers for Humanities Majors. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s