Sunday 21 January 2018

Why languages can be pure gold when it comes to getting a job

Sinead D'Arcy
Sinead D'Arcy

Sinead D'Arcy

There are many motivations to learn a new language. It might be an interest in international travel and a desire to connect with the culture of the country on a deeper level, or it might be to improve their career prospects and employability.

In an increasingly competitive and international job market, European languages such as Portuguese, French, Spanish, Italian and German are increasingly valuable to employers, while fluency in languages relating to emerging markets such as Mandarin and Russian are like pure gold.

From an employer's perspective, to build and deliver sustainable growth in the world of international business, multilingual graduates are a key asset to capitalise on opportunities for growth in overseas markets.

Communicating in the local language can help break the ice, can lead to better working relationships and ultimately more business. Employers are increasingly conscious of this and as Irish businesses and multinationals located in Ireland do business with an ever-increasing number of countries around the world, there is a growing range of careers open to language graduates.

There has been welcome focus and debate in recent years on the importance of developing language skills at primary, secondary and third level to support Ireland's economic growth. We need more graduates with international languages to support this growth.

Irish universities offer a great range of language-related degree programmes. A crucial element of such programmes can be an opportunity for international study, where students have the unique opportunity to become immersed in another culture.

Completing programmes such as these develop students' knowledge of languages and develop strong communication and intercultural skills that open careers in marketing and business, translation and interpreting, politics and public service, journalism, finance, creative and media industries and education.

Recent statistics from the University of Limerick (2012) show that 85pc of graduates with a degree in business and a language found a job in Ireland, and 15pc secured employment overseas.

My advice to students is to start thinking about what you want from their career early in your studies. Don't leave it to final year. Build up a portfolio of experience and skills through choosing the right modules, getting relevant work experience and internships and through actively engaging with college societies.

Travel, and use the experience to develop your language skills and cultural awareness so you bring back skills that distinguish you from other candidates.

Being able to speak a foreign language and having experience with different cultures looks good on any job application so don't hide your experience or proficiency in a foreign language at the bottom of your CV. Highlight it and make it an eye-catcher by bringing it to the headline summary on your CV, application or online profile.

Sinéad D'Arcy is Jameson Graduate Programme Manager, Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard

Irish Independent

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