The Mercyhurst Department of World Languages and Culture hosted its first Career Day on April 8. The idea for this new event came from assistant professor of Spanish, Sherez Mohamed, Ph.D.
With other virtual events having utilized Zoom, Mohamed and her colleague, professor of Spanish, Alice Edwards, Ph.D., had the idea that they could use the same virtual format, and found that the benefits, such as the ability to communicate with people in other countries, such as China, Italy and Puerto Rico, were numerous.
The Zoom session consisted of eight alumni and two friends of the department who met with interested language students about how they have used their language training and expertise to enhance their career opportunities.
Speakers came from a wide range of fields, including intelligence professionals, those working in government agencies (US AID and Peace Corps), teachers working across the world, business professionals, health care workers and bloggers. Students who attended the event were given the opportunity to choose two people they wanted to hear from and talk with in breakout room sessions.
In preparation for the event, Edwards, and Department of World Languages and Culture chair, Douglas Boudreau, Ph.D., recommended the names of Mercyhurst alumni who went on to have careers that utilized their language skills.
Additionally, Mohamed reached out to bilingual contacts who uses both of their languages in their professions. This first virtual career day was a success, with about 20 students participating.
With plans for hosting a similar event in the future, Mohamed and Edwards hope attendance continues to expand. The event helped current Mercyhurst students to see the wide range of professional opportunities available to those who are experienced in more than one language.
“A language major or minor is a valuable tool in increasing employment options. Our alums have been offered positions because of their strong language and inter-cultural competencies. They live and work all over the world in NGOs, business, education and government work,” said Mohamed. “In addition, their language skills have enhanced their personal lives, giving them unique opportunities to earn graduate degrees in other countries, travel extensively and even marry and have international families.”
To those interested in learning a new language, it is also important to understand that language is a skill that really complements and supplements just about any career.
“There are really no cons to knowing another language, and knowing about other cultures,” Mohamed said.
Opportunities for college graduates who are familiar with another language and culture are not just limited to education or intelligence studies majors, as it may be assumed. Almost any major can benefit from expanding their world-view and knowledge of language.
If you are interested in a career related to language and culture, look out for future career days.