I’m a huge advocate for learning foreign languages and exploring the world. (If you’ve met me, you know that to be true.) Thanks to my friend Tatiana, I’ve been introduced to Stacie Berdan’s book “Go Global!” and The New York Times article referenced below, which have both added more fuel to my desire for learning about languages and cultures.
In her blog post, Interested in a Global Career? Consider PR Stacie Berdan writes:
Working in another country can expand your horizons professionally and personally in ways you might never have considered. Overseas achievements can enhance your reputation and set you apart from your peers. Doors will open for you, because companies need more people who can apply international experience to local business challenges. Knowledge and understanding of foreign cultures, regulations, economies, consumers and work habits are now crucial for corporate survival—and they can be your ticket to the fast track…Having global experience continues to move from “nice” to “must-have” as a driver for career success.
While working in another country accelerates your global knowledge and experience, using your foreign language proficiency to give a client an extra advantage will enhance your reputation as well. I recently had the opportunity to work with a team member to translate a press release and media alert into Spanish, and then pitch it to the local Spanish language media. We were happy to secure coverage with the local Telemundo affiliate and help the client reach a new audience segment.
What’s more, studies show that learning another language can make you smarter, helping to improve cognitive skills that aren’t even related to language and shielding against dementia in old age. According to a piece from The New York Times, Why Bilinguals are Smarter:
The collective evidence from a number of such studies suggests that the bilingual experience improves the brain’s so-called executive function — a command system that directs the attention processes that we use for planning, solving problems and performing various other mentally demanding tasks. These processes include ignoring distractions to stay focused, switching attention willfully from one thing to another and holding information in mind — like remembering a sequence of directions while driving.
So, why not tap into that opportunity if you have the chance? Though I studied Spanish for eight years and continue to use it actively now, I’m still working to learn yet another language. A large part of pubic relations requires us to follow a life of ongoing learning, and taking a stab at a new language is always worth a try. It’ll open doors for your clients, and it’ll open doors for you.
Are you bilingual? How has it impacted your career?
For more — Rhetoric and Rosetta Stone: Learning Language in the Digital Era (Platform Magazine, “Public Relations Out Loud”)