another confused college kid
October 19, 2011 7:51 PM Subscribe
Help me figure out possible career choices if I want to move away from software development to making use of foreign language skills?
posted by movicont to work & money (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm currently a college junior. I will be getting a degree in Computer Science in a year and I may be minoring in Chinese. Last summer, I worked an internship for a software company and have since determined that I'd prefer not do software work (although I will if I can't get any other jobs). I enjoy learning languages and I'm taking multiple at the moment (French, Japanese, Chinese). I would prefer a career that could make use of my foreign language skills, and preferably one that would take me abroad.
So a rundown of languages I know:
- Chinese: I can speak it with native fluency and read newspapers and some modern literature. I don't write that well though. I've taken two semesters of it in college so far and I would like to take more, but that depends on availability of classes.
- French: I took this for five years during middle/high school and then two semesters in college. I'm certainly not fluent, although I'd like to study abroad and increase my fluency.
- Japanese isn't worth mentioning since I'm just taking the intro class now for fun.
I'll be finishing all of my CS requirements at the end of this school year, so I could technically graduate, but I think I'll use my last year to study abroad instead. My options are either France or China (or both), and I haven't quite decided yet.
Here's a number of career options I've considered:
NSA/various other intel services - they seem to want to hire people who speak/read/write Mandarin Chinese, all of which I can do (although with some room for improvement on the reading/writing). I can see a few problems:
- How competitive are the language internships? Most of my Chinese abilities aren't evidenced on paper, since I was able to skip out of a bunch of basic classes. Also, my overall GPA is not particularly great due to CS (3.0), although I may be able to raise it before I apply next year.
- I don't know if the security clearance would pose a problem. I am a US citizen, but a naturalized one. Both my parents are also naturalized citizens, but my grandparents (the ones who are alive) aren't. Does the background check go that far and/or do they care?
Foreign Service Officer - this would be great, except that the FSO exam looks hard, and thus I'd need lots of backup options
- Would it be any easier if I went the Foreign Service Specialist route for IT? The problem is that most of my experience is in software dev and not IT, and their hiring cycles seem pretty sporadic.
Translation/Interpretation - I can only translate/interpret from Chinese to English, since I doubt I can write well enough in Chinese to do so the other way around. However, I'd like to make this semi-stable and not just the occasional freelance job, and I'm not sure how to progress to that step. It also seems like I would need specialized training before anyone will trust me to interpret.
Any advice on any of the above options or other suggestions?