The Foreign Language Fellows program organizes a Languages in Life series, which invites alumni to campus that have used or currently use foreign language(s) in their careers. Rebecca Salmaso ’08 majored in Hispanic studies and minored in economics at the College. After graduating, she engaged in business operations and global program management at EMC, a company active in cloud computing, big data, IT security and data storage. As the liaison for the Latin America team, Rebecca used her Spanish and learned Portuguese while traveling to Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Chile. She currently works as a sales enablement manager at TripAdvisor.
When she visited campus, Rebecca had few tidbits of wisdom to share for those interesting in business careers:
When at Connecticut College
- Embrace challenging academic subjects. Though frustrating at times, the process of problem-solving and figuring out how to learn complex information is an incredibly useful and applicable skill in the workforce.
- Learn how to intelligently ask for help as an undergraduate student. Understanding how to ask insightful questions is an essential part of successfully performing one’s work at a job.
- Get involved in extracurricular activities that serve your current and future interests. Also, get to know New London by working or volunteering in the city.
When searching for jobs
- Talk about your career interests with as many people as possible; people like to help one another. They will try to connect you with someone they know engaged in a similar field. That person can usually provide you with a reference should you be interested in the company at which they work.
- Create a LinkedIn profile if you don’t already have one. Use it to make connections and network with people you know—and some that you don't. Do not be afraid to reach out to a friend of a friend on LinkedIn who works at an organization in which you are interested, or ask your friend to introduce you via LinkedIn message. They might even get a referral bonus if you get hired.
When applying to jobs
- If a potential employer encourages applicants to have certain skills, make the effort to learn the skill before your interview. Being able to say “I started to learn this skill for you” impresses an employer.
When on the job
- Spend time in the workforce before applying to graduate schools in business. Masters programs like to accept applicants who will have work experience to draw upon in the classroom.
- Don’t think business school is mandatory to be successful. It's possible to learn some of the skills one would learn at graduate school—basic accounting, marketing strategies, business terms—by teaching oneself online.
- If the company you work for finances part of graduate school, take advantage of the opportunity!
- When working for someone else in your first job or internship, strike a balance between meeting their requests and taking initiative. You do not want them to have to hold your hand through every task, but you also don't want to run astray from their expectations by taking too much initiative.
When not at work
- If you do not have the opportunity to use a foreign language in your career, you can find an outside-of-work opportunity to exercise that interest. For example, you can tutor English Second Language (ESL) learners, learn about their cultures, and potentially speak a different language with them after the lessons.
- Living on your own, grocery shopping, paying taxes—life after college is not so much challenging as it is new. Don’t fear!
As a senior who will graduate in May, I appreciated listening to advice that will serve me as I make my next steps.