When students make the decision about what career to choose, they should follow first and foremost their hearts and aptitudes.
Those with a liking and an aptitude for foreign languages will consider putting down a language course on their CAO form, or perhaps choose a course combining languages with another subject such as business or law. There are many combinations possible in all the different Universities, Institutes of Technology, the Technical University and some PLC courses. ‘I wasn’t interested in just pure business, I wasn’t very good at science, so I chose languages’, says an Enterprise Ireland employee who studied International marketing and languages. At times the career choice is made for us simply because we can rule out other options.
Choosing pure languages - languages as a ‘hard skill’
Choosing to study languages makes it possible to access very good careers in education, state bodies or technology. Language specialists in the EU or translating have interesting careers and a possibility to link up with other countries professionally and culturally. Students interested in studying languages should think about their interest in careers directly linked to foreign languages such as teaching, academia or interpreting. They can also acquire a degree in languages and nevertheless go onto different industries.
In a recent visual University of Limerick listed all the careers their Applied Languages graduates had gone on to do, ranging from KPMG to Microsoft to pretty much anything. At a career event held in Limerick Careers in languages and how to pursue them, the guest with the industry background told the audience that she can train employees in the tools they need to work in her company but coming with the languages skills already acquired is what she is looking for in a CV.
Languages benefit any career - languages as a ‘soft skill’
No matter what career a student will embark on and this could change during their lifetime, foreign language skills will give more options. As Laura from SAP in our Working with languages video series says:
“It’s just so beneficial, it’s such an attractive thing to have on your CV, that you can actually speak another language. I take part in recruitment and straight away when we’re seeing CVs coming in, we’re automatically looking for the languages, they completely stand out.No matter what else is on the CV, we really are looking for the languages.”
Choosing foreign languages with any career will give the student an added skill which could open doors and place them ahead of others. Someone with a business degree with languages can do more than someone with a business degree without languages. A science graduate with languages can access networks, colleagues, research or employment on a wider scale than a graduate who only speaks English or Irish.
Encourage students to choose, maintain and expand their languages skills. CAO will give a range of options to combine subjects with foreign languages, and Higher and Further Education institutes will offer languages as modules. Students should be encouraged to explore courses with languages with the different institutions so that they have more options when entering the world of work.
Demand for a combination of skills
Demand for a combination of skills is increasingly valuable in our global world. Languages complement any field. There are specialist fields such as linguist-lawyers or IT localisation translators, but combining foreign language skills with any career is beneficial. STEM subjects and languages are a strong combination which provide hard skills in STEM and soft skills in languages as Fergal Donnelly, working in the pharmaceutical sector in the European Commission states:
“I'm a medical doctor by background, I worked in the pharmaceutical industry before joining the Commission and prior to that I was in clinical practice.The two wishes that I had was to work in the medical sphere but also in an international environment and Brussels was a good place to do this.Irish people being able to speak Irish are exposed to another language from a very early age and this means it's going to be easier for Irish people to acquire French, German and other languages which is going to make a difference for the better in professional and personal life.”
Check CareerPortal career sector for information on how you can do more with foreign languages as well as our Working with languages video series and our industry experts videos on the importance of languages.
All guidance departments in post-primary schools have received a Guidance Counsellor Resource Pack which can also be downloaded in the Guidance counsellor section of our Languages Connect website.
Encourage students to choose languages in order to fit in well in our international, fast-moving world where multi-skilled workforce communicates globally. No matter what the career, there are more options with languages.
Check out videos from those working with languages here.