When you’re about to start college or university, the question of your professional future is an essential one.
Of course, most of us pick something we are interested in, a subject we were good at in high school, that we feel attracted to, or simply that we have experienced before and want to get a deeper knowledge of.
Learning languages is popular (almost everywhere)
Languages are and remain a popular choice for higher education – especially in the non-English speaking countries. While the US and the UK saw a slight decline in the enrolment for modern languages (French, German) in 2016, the rest of the world keeps on nourishing a fascination for foreign languages, English being far ahead of the other languages. Among the favorite runner-ups, you will find Spanish, German, French, Italian, and Russian (in the EU).
But here is the catch – many university courses in modern languages are very one-dimensional, focusing strongly on grammar, linguistics, didactics, translation, or communication. So if somewhere down the road you realize that you don’t want to become a language teacher or a translator, you may feel like you need to start over with another course.
What do I do now?
Okay, so you studied languages (or one language) and you don’t want to teach it. Let’s have a look at the professional alternatives you have as a skilled linguist.
This job is relevant even if you studied your native language. Many companies start off with their own resources. Whoever can type will be fine with filling out the content they need on their website/packaging/press material. However, good, technical writing requires skills. Someone good with languages can use his communication skills to fill the job.
Content marketing manager
More and more the online presence of a brand relies more on the content it produces more than the advertising. Creating dense, qualitative content that appeals to the targeted audience is a job you might do well with your language skills.
Social media manager
Sometimes it feels like there is a new communication channel every six months. Companies cannot afford to ignore them and need to feed their various facebook/twitter/instagram/snapchat accounts. If you’re good with verbal and visual communication, this might be a dream job for you!
Translation is a tricky activity, localization even trickier. When a product is launched internationally, it needs to meet the expectations of all potential customers. The role of a localization manager is to ensure the adaptation of the product is a good fit.
This job is very demanding but also very rewarding. Your role is to convey the conversation between two parties, most of the time in frantic situation. You can be an interpreter between a doctor and a patient, a lawyer and his client, or a police officer and a suspect. Any of these and you can be called up at any time of the day or night.
Especially in high-class hotels, restaurants, or resorts, an educated, multilingual receptionist can be greatly appreciated. Along with skills like organisation, discretion, and efficiency, your language talents can do wonders.
If living abroad is a life goal, then this job might be just right for you. Hired for your knowledge of your local market, country, language, and culture, you act as an ambassador of the company, whether online or on site.
Do you feel like a trader at heart? Do you want to travel the world through your professional contacts? Are you up to calling and writing emails in various foreign languages? Is negotiating a thrill you are addicted to? International business is waiting for you!
If you don’t only love words but also numbers, then you might have a call here. Marketing demands a lot of structured thinking, a strong analytical sense, and a feeling for numbers. However, creativity, catchy writing skills, and an editorial flair will be just as much desired qualities.
Would you like to share your own experience? Where have your language studies led you to? Let us know!
About John Barré:
Former language student, I lived in various parts of France, Ireland, and Germany. I now live in Hamburg, specializing in online marketing, online advertising, social media, and content marketing. I currently work for the #cross-channel marketing platform AdTriba.