By Betty Zambrano, Assistant Director, Career Events
Living in South Florida is a constant reminder of how crucial it is to be open to other cultures and especially other languages. Miami serves as the most important commercial and cultural link to Latin America and as a UM student, all you have to do is walk down to the local bakery or make your way to the beach to hear a flurry of foreign languages. If you were not able to learn or practice another language in your childhood, living in Miami during your college career is the perfect place to pick up at least the basics of Spanish, Portuguese, French, etc.
The advantage of knowing the basics of a foreign language stretches far beyond cultural appreciation. In fact, this could have a significant effect on the rest of your career. In an increasingly interconnected global market, this skill could be the spark that catapults you above the rest. Check out some of the added benefits of sticking to your Mandarin minor!
1. Makes you a more marketable candidate: Bilingual employees are widely sought after by every industry, from engineering to communications. And not only in major cities like Miami, but across the U.S. and abroad! I remember a friend who did Peace Corps in Tanzania found a job in Kansas working with African refugees in the area. You can bet that his resume was at the top of the list when the employer realized he was fluent in Swahili!
2. You can negotiate higher pay: Not only will you be more qualified to land a job in a highly competitive job market, but you can leverage your knowledge to negotiate an increase in pay. As a bilingual employee, you are able to offer not only language skills, but often times a cultural competency that other candidates are not equipped with. The right employer will recognize, value and be willing to offer higher compensation for that.
3. More employment opportunities. Depending on your proficiency, you can use your language skills to take on a second job or create your own freelance business. If you are a college student looking for extra cash, what better way than charging for tutoring and translation services? These non-traditional options can help you make money while giving you the freedom to create a schedule around your classes and activities.
Taking on a second language can be time-consuming and require concentrated effort on your part, but it is one of the most valuable skills you can offer over the course of your career. Take advantage of living in a multicultural city and explore the world of languages available through UM or community classes!
Have you ever been in a situation where you were grateful to be bilingual? Share your experiences in the comments!