What Can I Do with My Language Major?

At Georgetown, students may major in one of nine languages currently offered by the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics (FLL) at Georgetown: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish. While the program for each language varies somewhat, all departments are committed to providing you with an excellent background in not only the language itself, but also in the culture it embodies. A study abroad component, in the form of a full academic year or semester, or a summer program, is often required or is at least strongly encouraged. 

Students who major in a language gain the ability to communicate effectively in both written and spoken forms, and will gather knowledge to understand the world better, identify commonalities, and respect cultural differences. Students will also gain a greater understanding of history, literature, politics, and the arts. Students who major in a specific language are well-equipped to enter a variety of fields and to continue their education through professional or graduate school. 

The information in the graphic below was sourced from a variety of information. It is NOT an exhaustive list. These options are meant to serve as a jumping off point to exploration into career possibilities.

Foreign languages options wheel

The study of languages develops a core set of skills sought after by employers in a wide range of occupational settings. These skills are becoming increasingly useful in our interdependent world, and some languages are currently in particular demand. For example, the number of native Spanish speakers in the United States has increased interest in people who can communicate effectively in the language, and Arabic speakers are particularly needed in areas of government, international relations, and national security. Throughout your experience in the program, you will obtain the following skills:

Critical Thinking Skills

  • Thinking collaboratively
  • Analyzing information, cultures, and complex problems
  • Comparing and contrasting interpretations
  • Offering diverse perspectives
  • Assessing cultural differences
  • Synthesizing themes
  • Research skills

Effective Communication Skills

  • Multilingualism
  • Cross-cultural communication
  • Expressing and understanding multiple viewpoints
  • Presenting information logically
  • Reading critically
  • Writing effectively
  • Linguistic sophistication

Problem Solving Skills

  • Assessing needs
  • Defining problems
  • Understanding alternative perspectives
  • Gathering information from a variety of sources
  • Weighing alternatives
  • Generating creative solutions

Human Relations Skills

  • Understanding cultural differences
  • Sensitivity to cultural issues
  • Flexibility in thinking and learning
  • Ability to adjust to new environments
  • Appreciation of cultural history, literature, politics, music, and more

You can use the examples above, and experiences from classes or research projects to enhance your resume. Try plugging in some of your experiences or skills gained into this formula: Accomplished (X) as measured by (Y) by doing (Z).

Sample Resume Class 1, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Member of Class, taught by Prof. ______

  • Expanded competence in speaking, listening, reading, and writing in Modern Standard Arabic through a variety of texts and topics, such as (insert texts and topics), to attain professional proficiency 
  • Exploring the origins and development of Latin American culture and its literary tradition from the 15th to the 18th century by analyzing indigenous and mestizo perspectives on conquest and colonization and their written attempts to negotiate, question, and resist the Spanish rule
  • Improved Chinese language competency by intensively reading and discussing articles on various contemporary social-cultural topics, such as urbanization and cultural heritage, entertainment, food culture, and the influence of Confucianism on modern China in Contemporary Chinese Culture course

As you think about your major, you might start to think about the internships, jobs, or volunteer opportunities you could gather that fit in nicely with your academic background. As you begin the job search process, you  may be faced with an interview. Generally, interviews are spaces where employers are trying to learn more about you and understand how you are qualified to do the job you are applying for. Throughout the interview, you may be asked the following questions:

“Tell me about yourself.”

“Describe an experience when…”

“What are your strengths? Weaknesses?”

“What are your career goals 5 years from now?”

As we think about these questions, what are some ways you could incorporate the skills above and your personal experiences within your classes into your answers? Below you will find some examples of how to combine your academic experiences with your career goals. You can learn more about how to break down and answer these questions effectively through our Interview Guide.

Tell me about yourself.
Well, I am Jack Walter, I grew up in Pittsburgh where I graduated top in my class and was an active member of the French club. When making my decision about where to go to college, I was drawn to Georgetown and DC because of the rich culture and interesting opportunities the city presented. In addition, my high school experience as a French student ambassador allowed me the opportunity to fully immerse myself in the French culture during a summer study abroad experience. This increased my interest in engaging with diverse groups of people, and challenging myself to learn more about different cultures in America.  As a student considering majoring in French, I am extremely interested in gathering more information and engaging in more opportunities surrounding the French language and culture, so I am thrilled to be considered for this opportunity to continue to build my French skills outside of the classroom and expand on my knowledge in real life contexts. So far in my classes, I have been able to hone in on my human relations and critical thinking skills, which I think would be really valuable in this context. I believe I would be a great addition to the team because of my willingness to learn, my past leadership experiences as a French student ambassador, and my dedication to teamwork and collaboration. 

Describe an experience when you demonstrated leadership skills and initiative.”
Absolutely. As I mentioned, I was a French student ambassador for my high school. This was an experience given to only 3 students in the French club and provided us the opportunity to go to France for one summer and learn about the culture, language, politics, and history. I was chosen for this opportunity after a lengthy application process where I had to present to the language department why I would be a great fit, and what I would be able to bring back to the French club after this experience. As both a member of the French club, and the student body vice president with a passion for international politics, I demonstrated to the ambassador committee that I would be able to combine my interests through this immersive experience, and deepen my understanding of international politics. During the study abroad program, I went above and beyond the requirements of the program, and engaged in multiple shadowing opportunities, informational interviews, and even volunteered for a local non-profit to get a deeper understanding of the political issues at hand within the French government and local community. By taking this initiative, I was able to adequately demonstrate to the French department my understanding of international issues, and develop solutions from a first-hand perspective. After this experience, I was permitted to represent the French department as an advocate for this program, and presented my personal experience in the study abroad program to the school financial board. This ultimately increased the program’s funding so 4 students could attend the following summer.  Because of this experience, I have been able to dive deeper into my class lectures at Georgetown, and engage in discussions with professors and students regarding French culture and politics, which I believe has increased my critical thinking and problem solving skills when exploring solutions to international problems. 

What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Since starting my French classes at Georgetown, I have not only been able to explore my leadership skills by engaging in discussions and pulling experiences from my life to answer questions, but I have also increased my listening skills. Being a first-year student taking classes with upperclassmen, I have been able to learn more about what it means to be a French student at Georgetown. This has helped me understand the expectations of the department as well as dive deeper into subjects and topics I have not yet explored. In addition, I have been able to increase my communication skills by learning more about cross cultural communication and gathering and understanding information from multiple viewpoints. The cross-cultural lens has been really helpful in navigating the topics covered in class. In terms of weaknesses, I would say coming from a smaller high school, to a large cultural institution like Georgetown, it has been difficult to feel confident in group spaces and conversations. However, this is something I am actively working to improve by joining weekly French Conversation Coffee Chats on Saturday mornings. This is helping me feel more comfortable with my conversational French, and in turn is helping me feel more confident in my classes and out in the real world.

What are your career goals 5 years from now?
That is a great question, let me think about it for a minute. While I don’t know exactly what I hope to do in 5 years, I know that after I graduate, I want to find myself in another cultural immersion experience. I really value giving back to my community as well as engaging in meaningful work. I could see myself working abroad as a Teaching Assistant for Fulbright in France or Quebec. Or I could see myself staying here in the US and exploring public policy opportunities while also studying for the foreign service officer exam. Either way, I hope that I can continue to develop my critical thinking and communication skills as a way to connect with individuals and understand other cultures more in depth. I believe this opportunity would put me on a fantastic path to reach those goals, or develop the skills necessary to explore them further. 

Georgetown Alumni have taken their foreign languages degree across multiple different industries and have applied the skills they learned in languages across multiple disciplines.

Post-graduate outcomes of foreign languages and linguistics majors
Twenty-four and a half percent of graduates go on to graduate school. Seventy-five and a half percent went into the workforce.

Additional information about these outcomes can be found in Cawley’s Post-Graduation Outcome Report.

Post-Graduation Outcomes of FLL Majors, 2010—2019

Pie graph of post-graduation outcomes for FLL graduates

“My French major helped me to strengthen my use of French in professional and academic environments. Since graduating, the French language skills that I refined at Georgetown helped lead me to a Fulbright research grant in France, which culminated in a report on public housing for individuals released from jail and prison. I was able to execute the report with confidence, thanks to my experience writing a French thesis at the end of my major program. I subsequently worked on a francophone team at an international organization, where my French major helped draw attention to my resume during the application process. Today, I work at a public defender’s office in NYC, and I regularly translate for francophone clients during counsel visits. My French skills have served me well in each of these roles in three different countries, and I know that I’ll continue to use them throughout my career.”
2017 Georgetown College Graduate, French & Government

“My French major was particularly meaningful to my study abroad experiences. I studied in Strasbourg in the spring of 2016, and then participated in the John Carroll Internship Program in Saint-Omer in summer 2016. These two programs were some of the highlights of my Georgetown career.”
2017 Georgetown College Graduate, French & Government

“I work in a children’s hospital providing psychosocial support and education to pediatric patients and their families in an effort to assist in their coping and reduce trauma in the medical setting. Through Georgetown’s amazing language programs, I was able to become proficient enough that I am able to communicate easily with children and families in the medical setting who speak Spanish, creating important therapeutic relationships…I am grateful for my Georgetown education because it helped me develop the ability to think outside the box, look at a situation from multiple perspectives and come up with creative solutions when they’re needed.”
2014 Georgetown College Graduate, Spanish & Psychology, Bioethics minor

Helpful Keywords to Improve Searches

There are lots of ways to find good keywords to help your job or internship search process, or even just to learn more about the types of jobs you can do within a specific major. One way to explore this is by checking out the job search tool on Google. 

Once you are in, type in something generic like your major and the word internship afterward (e.g., “Italian internships”). Once you hit enter, it will give you lots of options to explore, but if you want to explore titles, possible career paths, or keywords, hover your mouse over the ‘Title’ tab on the top of the page. This will give you a ton of ideas and options to explore possible keywords. You can then utilize Vault Career Insider, a resource offered to you for free with your NETID and password, to explore what some of these titles or career paths are all about.

Sample Internships

  • U.S. State Department
  • Government agencies (e.g., National Security Agency)
  • Embassy (U.S. & foreign)
  • Museums (e.g., Smithsonian Institutions)
  • Educational Programs (e.g., Summerbridge)
  • Consulting firms (e.g., Social Technologies)
  • Media (e.g., ABC Nightline, Dateline NBC)

The Georgetown Faculty of Languages and Linguistics (FLL) Department website is rich with additional information on studying the foreign languages at Georgetown.

You can also gather additional information on the language majors offered at Georgetown through the Georgetown Bulletin:

Professional associations are a great place to go to dive deeper into specific fields of study and learn more about what post grad life might look like. 

Vault is a fantastic resource to learn more about specific career fields in the languages. Vault has information such as salary, work environment, education and training requirements, outlooks, and specific tips for entering into the field. 

Professors & Academic Deans

Georgetown professors and faculty members can be a wonderful resource for Georgetown students. If you are still curious to learn more about the disciplines of a specific major, we’d encourage you to connect with your professors! Outside of office hours, Georgetown has an online interface called GU360 where students can explore and connect with faculty members that are eager to mentor and support students. You can use this interface to learn more about specific department research, specialties, and areas of study within a major.  

You can also connect with your academic dean or counselor to further discuss opportunities within a given major. 

Lastly, each department has a dedicated director of undergraduate studies. This is the individual in charge of coordinating the major program or department as a whole. You can find the director of undergraduate studies by exploring the faculty and staff pages of individual department websites.

Alumni

Connecting with alumni is a fantastic way to explore a day in the life of any given major student. There are several different ways to connect with Georgetown Alums. Hoya Gateway is Georgetown’s premier networking platform which connects alumni and students to have meaningful conversations and build a strong network of support. This is a platform alumni opt into with the sole purpose of supporting current students, which means there is an extremely high response rate. 

You can also use LinkedIn to connect with Georgetown alum. A simple alumni search on Georgetown’s LinkedIn profile will help you get connected to approximately 130 thousand alumni, which you can then filter to meet the location, major, industry, or skills that you are interested in exploring.

You can also check out our post-graduation outcomes to learn more about what Georgetown alumni in specific majors are up to after graduation. We survey our seniors at the end of each year and into the following year to learn about jobs they secured, service opportunities they committed to, or graduate schools they decided to attend. You can filter by first major to get an idea of what life after Georgetown looks like. You’ll see in many cases that alums are using majors in a wide variety of ways, and your major doesn’t always equal your career path. 

Career Center Staff

You can also connect with career center staff to talk through the possible outcomes of one major over another. In short, there are endless opportunities no matter what major you choose. However, connecting with someone might help you navigate your decision making process a little bit easier. 

At the career center, you have the opportunity to meet with either a Career Exploration Counselor or an Industry Advisor. Career Exploration Counselors can help you talk through concerns, goals, the big picture, and strategies to move forward. You can think of them as generalists and a great place to get started. Industry Advisors can help you think through specific questions about a given career path and provide specific industry information and trends. You can think of them as specialists for once you start to narrow down your possible path. If you think an appointment with one of these individuals would benefit you, you can make an appointment on Handshake.

  • Classics
  • Comparative Literature
  • History
  • Justice and Peace Studies
  • Linguistics