These days, more people travel and study other cultures and languages. As a result, companies try to hire people from diverse backgrounds. People from different countries bring their unique skills and culture to a company. Now is the best time to embrace and share your unique skills as a bilingual student.
Dr. Ron Severson, Senior Instructor I of Management at the UO Lundquist College of Business and instructor of a Cross-Cultural Negotiation class, expressed a positive opinion about being bilingual in the workforce: “language is not just a language, it’s also a view on culture. The words tend to be different and not easily translatable, and often show a different mindset. I think most people who know at least two languages have experienced thinking a little differently depending on the language.” He believes while bilingual students bring new perspectives and ideas, language barriers can cause a lot of confusion and mistakes.
Today, our supply chains and operations to design, build, and sell are all international. Businesses collaborate with others who speak different languages and have different cultural values. Ron said, “Business is not just business. It has relations to governments, communities, outcomes, reporting, and branding. These have to do with social relations that go well beyond business. If it’s just business, we would all be fine just doing the math. But understanding is the most important part of doing business today.” He believes that to understand problems better, both parties have to understand each other’s culture. This mutual understanding can be gained from the ability to speak other languages.
Communicating with people in their native language also makes them feel more appreciated. As an American stationed in Indonesia, Chris Crow, an Urban Development Analyst at the World Bank, expressed his opinion. He mentioned that when working with people in Indonesia, he felt more respected when he spoke their native language. This kind of detail is important for a company to survive.
Therefore, if you are able to speak more than one language, embrace it. Know that your skills are needed, and show your unique worth to employers. Put it on your résumé and LinkedIn, and most importantly, understand why your uniqueness is absolutely desirable.
Need help communicating your uniqueness? Come to the UO Career Center at 220 Hendricks Hall to have more in-depth conversation about making yourself standout! You can also call us to set up appointments with our professional career advisors at (541) 346 3235.
By Sonia Herman, Employer Relations Intern