It’s a fact: knowledge of one or more foreign languages increases your employability, even in these turbulent economic times. But there’s a plethora of fascinating and unusual paths out there that you might not have considered yet – but which all involve using foreign languages in interesting ways
Do you have a lightning tongue and a keen interest in current affairs and geopolitics? Simultaneous interpretation is a demanding, muscular role for top-level linguists – and perhaps none more so than being a United Nations Interpreter. When leaders and representatives of the UN's 193 member states gather to discuss key global issues, they have to trust that their messages will be faithfully delivered by a group of official interpreters. The UN has six official languages: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian and Arabic – and interpreters must be able to speak at least two of them fluently. It’s a taxing, mentally and physically exhausting job – so much so that interpreters are required to have regular half-hour breaks. It also requires a sharp understanding of current global events and UN issues, as well as the ability to grasp the technical details of everything from weapons of mass destruction to avian flu. After several years’ experience, interpreters can join the core group of interpreters based inNew York.
Are you a trainee medical student or a qualified doctor? Do you have a thirst to see the world, to push yourself in challenging scenarios? Think about volunteering for Medécins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders). MSF’s core work is providing medical aid in crisis situations – armed conflicts, epidemics, famines and natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes. All these situations call for a rapid response with specialised medical and logistical help. Even if you don’t have a medical background, the organisation may still need you: they also recruit skilled support staff such as nutritionists, epidemiologists, lab technicians and mental health professionals; water and sanitation engineers, construction engineers, logisticians with proven working knowledge of pumps and generators and vehicle mechanics. The official language is English – but fluency in French, Spanish and/or Portuguese is much desired.
For a career that combines a love of books with foreign language skills and a sprinkling of business acumen, look at in working in Foreign Rights. Most foreign rights agents work within the Rights teams ofUK publishing houses or (in theUK and US) specialised literary agencies. Your role involves selling the rights for authors’ books to be translated into foreign languages. You’ll visit the major world book fairs and engage with publishers from all over the world – so it helps if you can speak their language. It is a sales job – but one which involves a lot of specialised intercultural knowledge, not to mention an appetite for reading!
Are you organised? Efficient? An incisive communicator? A Personal or Executive Assistant (PA) supports the senior management of a company and may need to speak a range of languages depending on the nature of the business and its global outreach. In theUK at the moment there is a demand for executive assistants fluent in German and English. In sectors such as banking and finance, annual salaries can reach around £55,000. Your daily tasks will be multiple and varied and could include: co-ordinating the team’s activities and project work, client liaison, diary management, travel coordination, taking minutes of meetings, dealing with and processing translations.
Happy job hunting!