Did you grow up speaking two languages at home? I did, and I HATED it! I remember my parents would always say, “in public, you speak English, but at home, we speak Spanish.” Often, I thought that speaking a language other than English was useless. Why did I have to learn a different language when I only needed one to continue my education? Why double the work? At the time, I did not realize the blessing in disguise that it was to speak Spanish fluently, as well as English.
In every job interview I have been asked, “do you speak any other language (other than English)?” Until recently, I had taken for granted all the hard work that I put in at such a young age to learn two languages. But now, as I am settling into my new career, I realize that knowing Spanish has helped me at various times throughout my life, and today I want to touch on two valuable experiences anyone who grew up speaking two languages can relate to.
Translating experience: If you grew up speaking another language at home, you probably had to translate for a family member at some point during your childhood. Unknowingly, you gained translating experience from such a young age, and it is an experience that is priceless. You were able to help a family member and develop translating skills, not to mention your ability to become quick-witted.
Networking: Knowing another language from a young age allowed you to network with a wider array of people. You were able to communicate with friends and teachers at school, as well as family and friends at home. From a young age, you have been diversifying your network to include people that you can identify with, in different aspects. Your network has extended beyond the limit of one language. Use this to your advantage when sparking career-related conversations.
In a country like the United States, a melting pot of different cultures, the ability to speak other languages can be beneficial, especially during the job search process. My ability to speak a second language has given me an edge in every interview, appeal to a broader group of people, and an expansion of clientele for the companies I worked for. Being bilingual can set you apart from the rest. If you know another language, continue practicing it; that can be the make-or-break point in landing your next role!
Jason Rodriguez is a Career Navigator for Workforce Solutions. He is a graduate from the College of the Holy Cross where he received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Chinese and a Minor in Anthropology. Jason is a native Houstonian with a passion for helping others to find a job, keep a job, or get a better job.