Success Stories from World Languages Alumni
Tell us about your current job/profession and how you use the language skills that you acquired at Boise State. How have your language skills helped you?
“Learning a language is about more than just learning grammar – it is about getting excited by the new ideas that come from learning about a different culture.”
Geoff Moore, U.N. Advocacy
International Business, B.B.A.
New York, NY
“I am confident that my knowledge of French helped me to get my job with International Crisis Group because they explicitly asked about my degree in my interview. I use the language intermittently in my daily work because I report on events at the UN Security Council. If, for example, the Special Envoy for Syria is asked a question in French while I take notes on his press conference, I have to be able to switch between English and French. Knowing both languages is extremely useful when your work involves the UN.
Reading primary sources in French (such as laws) allowed me to expand the range of material I could analyze for research during my master’s degree. Being able to access news reports and journal articles in French was particularly important when I was writing about topics in North Africa because I didn’t need to rely on translations. Having French classmates, and others who were fluent in French, allowed me to chat with them and ask questions when I didn’t understand something.
My French courses at Boise State prepared me beyond language skills. I could not have guessed how much my academic interest in violent conflicts would be informed by what I learned from reading Albert Camus or studying French history and politics. Similarly, it is hard to describe how analyzing the film Welcome in my French Senior Seminar about refugees in the French city of Calais, would be something I’d take to heart when visiting the Calais refugee camp as a volunteer. More important than all of that, is the fact that my professors got me excited about studying. They did this by emphasizing that a literary analysis should be approached like a detective approaches a case, looking for evidence. Learning a language is about more than just learning grammar – it is about getting excited by the new ideas that come from learning about a different culture.”
“This was a very competitive process, and out of 300 applicants, only 3 of us were successful… One of the things that made me stand out the most in my application was my degree in French!”
Cindy Stott, Airbus Fast-Track
“A few months after I finished my degrees in French and Spanish Language and Literature at Boise State, I moved to the UK and started a Masters program in International Human Resource Management at the University of the West of England. In this program I learned HR management skills in an international context. We compared HR practices in leading and emerging economies like the UK, France, Germany, and China, and explored the challenges in managing people from different cultures. The cultural skills I learned from my language degrees at Boise State were a big help to me when I started this program because it gave me an understanding for a culture other than those I had lived in.
After graduating from my masters in October 2015, I started looking for a job in HR management at a multinational company in the UK. After a few months of searching I was offered a place on the HR Graduate Fast-Track Scheme at Airbus. This was a very competitive process, and out of 300 applicants, only 3 of us were successful. One of the things that made me stand out the most in my application was my degree in French! Airbus is based in France, and one of my interviewers was from Toulouse. The first thing he saw on my CV were my languages degrees, so he immediately started asking me a few interview questions in French, and also about my knowledge of the country and culture. I’m so excited to be starting this program in September with a training weekend in Toulouse, and I know I would not be there without my studies in French at Boise State!”
How has your language major or minor helped you accomplish goals that you set for yourself ?
“Knowing a second language has given me a competitive advantage in my journalism goals while living in Germany.”
Catherine Barney, Masters Student and Editor
“I’m currently a master student in a double degree program between Berlin, Germany and St. Petersburg, Russia. I am also a managing and content editor for an online magazine called Prospekt Magazine in Russia. This summer, I will be starting a new project in Berlin called Namennennen.
The German language skills I acquired at Boise State gave me an extra boost on both my resume––being involved in the German Club, having an advanced level of the German language, pursuing a German minor––as well as practical experience of working on German markets and trade shows selling mustard.
Knowing a second language has given me a competitive advantage in my journalism goals while living in Germany as I can interview, transcribe and translate my own stories. As a native English speaker, your chances of working in Berlin, Germany with both English and German are extremely high.”
“Being bilingual got me hired straight out of college.”
Lauren Christiansen, Sales Account Manager
San Francisco, CA
“Being bilingual got me hired straight out of college. I had a bit of experience in the recruiting industry, but it was very administrative. The fact that I was bilingual and was willing to move got me interviewed, hired and moved within six weeks of graduating college. I applied for seven jobs in three different cities (Nashville, Austin and Knoxville) and was offered three different roles of the seven (even though I had zero experience for all of those jobs.
I interviewed well, but I absolutely accredit my bilingual status on my resume for getting companies to speak with me). I was in my recruiting role for 1 1/2 years; loved it, but found my new company and have since moved on. Being bilingual definitely got my foot in the door a lot quicker to job opportunities out of college; I know I wouldn’t have had the same opportunities now and then if I didn’t speak both English and Spanish.”
How has your degree helped you? Have the skills and knowledge you gained from the varied aspects of language study at Boise State shaped who you are today?
“The history aspect of my language degree has impacted my life tremendously.”
Rebecca Mason-Cales, German and History Teacher
German, Secondary Education, B.A.
History Teaching Endorsement
“The history aspect of my language degree has also impacted my life tremendously. The history of a language also ties into the literature, film, etc. that is produced and even translated into that language. There are so many things that I have a better understanding of, women’s rights, for example, because of my exposure to the history of the German language. Overall, my entire world view was broadened over the course of obtaining my degree in a variety of ways.”
“My worldview changed once I started taking Latin American history and culture classes at Boise State.”
Daniel Keough, Program Administrative Assistant
Political Science, B.S.
East Palo Alto, CA
“These classes helped me better understand political systems in other countries, and differences between cultures which often cause political conflict, even within the United States. I become a more compassionate person with every language I learn. I learn new ideas from thinkers whose work has never been translated into English — my favorite author is Julio Cortázar; my favorite poet is Roque Dalton; my favorite musical group is Calle 13. I better understand the issues migrant families face when I am able to speak to them in their native language and learn from their experiences.
Outside of the studies themselves, learning from professors who all come from different parts of the world with different cultures helped open my eyes to how different AND how similar we all are. My professors urged me to study in a new country, and also pushed me to write papers and read books about issues that I am connected with personally. I learned a lot about the world and about myself throughout my 4.5 years in the World Languages program. ¡GRACIAS!”