How Knowing a Foreign Language Can Help Your Career

Here are five reasons why knowing a foreign language can help your postgrad career. If you don't know a second language already, now is a great time to learn.

After a dismal few years, college grads are finally starting to see more job openings available across the country. To a bright and eager college graduate with thousands of dollars of student loan debt, a lackluster salary is less enticing. So how do show that you’re worthy of an awesome career and an awesome salary to go with it? This is when having a foreign language on your résumé can come in handy. Why? It’s a unique experience that makes you stand out. In fact, it might even indicate that you’re more prepared for a job. If you can show you have special skills or are fluent in a second (or third) language, you’re immediately more valuable than other applicants. If you don’t know a second language already, now is a great time to learn, whether by taking classes through your college or learning on your own. Here are five reasons why knowing a foreign language can help your post-college career.  

You could earn higher wages

You’re not guaranteed to earn higher wages by being bilingual; a lot of that depends on the career path you choose. However, according to The Economist, college graduates who speak a second language can expect to earn up to $128,000 more in their lifetimes than their peers who speak only one language. Depending on the rarity and demand of the language you speak, that figure may rise or fall. This is because speaking a second language allows you to work with a wider range of people. You bridge the langage gap, effectively bringing in more business for whatever company hires you. 

Related: 4 Smart Tips for Women to Negotiate Salary

You’ll demonstrate initiative

Understanding a second language is one thing—being able to give presentations and send emails in it is another. If you can speak, write, and read a foreign language fluently, it shows initiative. This is particularly true if you elected to study the language, whether in college/high school or on your own time. But it also applies to individuals who grew up in a bilingual household. Sean Hopwood, President of Day Translations, is a language lover and polyglot. He only hires people who are bilingual or multilingual to work in his firm, no matter what the role. “Learning a language, especially when you haven’t grown up in a bilingual house or live in a culture dominated by English, shows tremendous initiative. I just know that employee is going to go one step above the other applicants.”

You’ll have more career opportunities

Speaking two or three languages may not give students two or three times the opportunities in their careers, but it certainly increases their options! Some jobs are completely language orientated, like translation and interpretation. But even among those that are not, knowing a foreign language can improve your chances of being hired by multinational organizations and in different countries. So, if you’re a computer programmer and you’re fluent in German, you could be transferred to your tech company’s overseas office in Berlin. If you want to get into law or diplomacy, knowing Latin and French will boost your chances, because of the ubiquitous nature of those languages. Even if you want to stay in the United States, knowing Spanish will be incredibly helpful, with the Hispanic population set to triple in size over the coming years.

Related: Learning a Foreign Language: Top Tips for Students

You’ll be more capable

Employers are always seeking workers who can think faster and make difficult decisions. Emotional intelligence can help you make the right judgment calls, which is why it’s a critical skill that many companies and hiring managers look for. And guess what? Learning a language can help you develop it! It’s also been well documented that being bilingual is a sign of intelligence and is even good for your mental health. So, if you speak another language, your job application just went to the top of the pile.

You’ll have a unique icebreaker

We’ve all been there. That awkward moment when you walk into the job interview, sweaty palms and dry throat. But imagine your interviewer scanning your résumé and then suddenly saying, “Oh, I see you speak French! I spent a semester studying abroad in Paris in college. The Champs-Élysées was my favorite!” Of course, the level of enthusiasm will vary with your interviewer. But even if you’re not talking to someone with a penchant for overseas travel, knowing a foreign language is a unique skill that can lead to unique conversations during job interviews as a recent grad and throughout your career.

Related: How to Master the Before, During, and After of Your First Job Interview

So, college students, consider trading that hour of Netflix for an hour spent learning a second language—maybe even third or fourth language. Apart from the fact that it’s just awesome to be able to speak in another tongue, adding a language to your résumé will give you an edge in your career. And when you’re just starting out, you need all the advantages you can get.

If you want a great program to study a language, check out this list of schools Where Foreign Language PhDs Received Their Undergraduate Degrees.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:

About Tina Mulqueen

Tina Mulqueen is a public relations, social media, and influencer marketing brand strategist. She is the founder of Kindred PR, a contributor to Elite Daily, and the Producer & Co-Host of The Unicorn in the Room. She is interested in entrepreneurship, the future of digital marketing, and the crossroads of technology, media, and entertainment.

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Heather McCarty

Heather McCarty

High School Class of 2020

CollegeXpress has helped me with the college application process. The tips and tricks for important essays were so helpful. I also gained useful knowledge about college life. Even though I’m fully online, CollegeXpress has helped me develop a sense of how college is in person. The experiences from college students that were featured on their Instagram page have shown the good, the bad, and the “secret” life on campus from a reliable perspective. Not to mention, they relieved my feelings of anxiety about the workload. I can now understand how it can be stressful, but it takes self-control and willpower to get assignments completed on time and with quality.

Tariq Adam Khatib

Tariq Adam Khatib

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me a lot. I am a Tanzania boy who finished my high school studies in Tanzania. I never knew I could get an opportunity to get a scholarship to study abroad. I am happy that now I know how to find the school to study abroad through CollegeXpress.

Hailey Riddile

Hailey Riddile

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me find scholarships to apply for and look into more colleges. While there are many websites similar to CollegeXpress, every website is different, and I've found a lot of good insight on this website. Receiving emails from CollegeXpress about scholarships is extremely useful, and getting insight about colleges near, far, and anywhere in between helps me narrow down my choices to what I want, which is also super helpful. The articles are always really good reads, and I can't stress enough how helpful this website has been to me. Anything related to college is beneficial to me as a senior, and I have learned lots of useful things to help me on my college journey this year.

Damian Rangel

Damian Rangel

September 2021 Mini Scholarship Winner, High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has helped me tackle college expenses, which will allow me to put more of my time and effort into my studies without the need of worrying as much about finances.

Alexandria

Alexandria

High School Class of 2021

For a long time, I've been searching everywhere to find the perfect website I can get scholarships and information from. Needless to say, I could never find the right one. That was, until I found CollegeXpress. Through my journey of finding the right scholarships for me, I was able to find articles about different things. They've all been helpful, especially in times like this! I was even able to connect with some of my favorite colleges! I love CollegeXpress. Thank you!

College Matches
X

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Castleton University

Castleton, VT

Gonzaga University

Spokane, WA