A recent report from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics expects the employment of US translators and interpreters to increase 22 percent between 2008 and 2018. As domestic jobs begin to outsource and branch internationally due to the affects of globalization, employers are seeking the means to break the language barrier.
“When you turn on the television, they’re talking about how the market is crashing in Slovakia, how bailing out Greece is going to help us,” said Spanish lecturer Alejandro Jacky. “It gives you an idea of just how interconnected every culture and every community is these days. We live in such a globalized market, and if you want to stay competitive, you have to access all these different global nodes.”
According to a 2010 survey from CareerBuilder and USA Today, employers are looking to hire a diverse workforce in the interest to appeal to an assorted consumer base. Job candidates who are bilingual in both English and another language prove to be appealing to broadening companies, and many of these jobs have bilingual pay differentials, which, according to Salary.com, range between 5 and 20 percent more pay per hour.
“I would hesitate to even pick a job (that being bilingual is the most valuable) because I think there are (jobs) in every business,” said associate German professor Kathryn A. Corl. “I certainly know in business, (being bilingual is) a door opener. We’ve had students in communications get jobs because they have that international experience, we’ve had students from engineering get jobs, and I think even internships and further research opportunities because of that language experience.”
As of April 1, 2010, the U.S. Hispanic population reached 50.5 million according to the U.S. census, making Hispanics the fastest-growing minority in the country. In Closing America’s Job Gap by Mary Walshok, Tapan Munroe and Henry DeVries, it is predicted that candidates bilingual in English and Spanish will be have many doors opened to them because of their marketable knowledge of the language.
“We got Mexico right below us,” Jacky said. “Regardless of what your political stance is, it’s hard to argue that 13 to 14 percent of the United States are of Latin decent, I mean including me. That’s 13 percent of your consumer base. That’s 13 percent of people that speak Spanish. You are amplifying your ability to connect. If we are talking in a pure capitalist sense, think about it: that’s how many more customers you have in your market.”
Although bilingualism gives many job candidates an extra edge in the job market, Margie Bogenschutz, senior director of the Undergraduate Career Management and Recruitment at the Fisher College of Business, suggests that a knowledge and even an immersion in the culture is just – if not more – important. Students who take advantage of study abroad programs and international internships learn not only the basic communication, but also the tendencies and trends of a foreign community. Marketing such experiences to potential employers is critical, Bogenschutz said.
“It starts with a resumé,” Bogenschutz said. “If (a job candidate) has travelled extensively, they should have that on their resumé. Obviously if they have fluency in other languages other than English, they should indicate that on their resumé. But then extending that in the interview they have to be able to really reflect, which I think not a lot of students take enough time to do: ‘What did I gain from that experience that in general is going to make me a better worker?’”
Students will continue furthering their foreign language skills through majors and minors in secondary languages to strengthen their resumés. However, for some students, being bilingual is not only a necessary measure to land the best job, but a passion for the language and its culture.
“I’m hoping that Spanish will make me more marketable,” said Gretchen Ash, a third-year in Spanish linguistics and strategic communication. “I love (Spanish). I’d love to be able to find a job where I’ll be speaking it. People say if you don’t use Spanish, you’ll lose it, and I’d love to be able to use it forever.”