For starters, Humanities majors are competitive on the job market, strong earners, and global thinkers. For more, see Choosing a College Major. Also, companies like Google value the skills provided by a Humanities or Arts major over those acquired with STEM majors (see The humanities and the arts contribute to making you workforce and world ready), and Humanities majors are gainfully employed and happy. Together, French and Italian have 144 million native speakers, over 300 million total speakers, and are official languages of 35 countries. Learning a foreign language like French or Italian offers you much more than the ability to ask for directions or order at a restaurant (although these skills will certainly afford you plenty of incredible sights and delicious meals!). It enables you to communicate with and learn from people across the globe. In the words of Italian alum Juan Carlos Ruiz Coll, "learning a foreign language is not just about memorizing words; it makes you a more humble individual and teaches you to respect your surroundings."
Learning French or Italian also offers you endless career opportunities. An integrated education from a double major in French or Italian and Science, Medicine, or Engineering has several long-term benefits, including strengthening critical thinking skills and empathy, opening up employment opportunities, and preparing students ‘for the challenges of work, life, and citizenship ahead.’ Just a few of the fields in which our undergraduate alumni (some of whom you will read about below) have built careers are law, business, medicine, education, government, diplomacy, and international development. To help prepare students for careers in these and other fields, the Department of French and Italian offers a variety of specialized majors and minors, such as French for the Professions, Francophone Studies, French or Italian Culture, and Romance Studies. Our students can also choose from over a dozen Study Abroad programs in Canada, France, Senegal, and Italy, and we offer numerous undergraduate scholarships each year. Read on to learn about the experiences of some of our undergraduate alumni and discover the unique ways in which these individuals have incorporated their language skills into their careers. As you will discover, knowledge of a foreign language is valued in a wealth of professions.
Keep in tune with what Arts & Sciences students are doing around the world with #ASCintheField!
Click on the images to read our alumni's stories.
Why earn a degree in the liberal arts?
CLLC, "Why Study a Langauge?"
Miami Herald, "For the liberal arts, all is not lost in the digital future"
Harvard University, "On the Value of a Liberal Arts Education"
Rosa studied French, International Studies, and Political Science at Ohio State. She was recently named “One of Ohio State’s 100 Buckeyes You Should Know.” After receiving a diploma from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris and a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University, Rosa began working for the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. Based in Washington, D.C., Rosa travels the world as a consultant in strategic planning and change management to implement best practices for governments, institutions, and commercial enterprises.
While an undergraduate, Rosa wanted to do something to “bring OSU together and have an impact on the community.” Her choice, two years in the making, was Buckeyethon, a student-led non-profit at Ohio State that benefits the oncology department of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network. Since its founding in 2001, Buckeyethon has raised over $1,000,000.
Anna graduated from Ohio State with a political science major and an Italian minor in 2007, then received a Master’s in Public Administration at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs. Next, Anna went to the Dominican Republic to work with Mission Emanuel, a nonprofit that runs schools, a clinic, and a water treatment facility. After four months there, Anna became the director of the medical clinic. To secure this job, Anna had to learn Spanish, an easy task as she knew Italian. “My minor in Italian,” she notes, “really helped me to complete an essential part of my job – being able to communicate with people.”
After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Anna traveled there to assist with relief. She studied French to be able to communicate with the Haitian people. Anna enjoyed the challenges of her job. “Every day brings a new challenge, especially in a community where there are scarce resources and overwhelming need. Anytime we are able to bring a smile to a face that was once weighed down by hopelessness and poverty, that makes my day.”
With another degree in hand, Anna now works as an operating room nurse at Shriners’ Hospital for Children in Galveston, Texas.
While at Ohio State, Claire enjoyed the opportunity to study abroad in Senegal. After graduation, she taught English as a Second Language to adults through Americorps and found herself continually moved by immigrants’ stories of their journeys to the States. She noted, “My education at The Ohio State University has played an integral role in my future career plans, as both my French language classes and study abroad experience in Senegal have…served as a foundation upon which my interest in international human rights is based.”
After finishing law school at the University of Cincinnati, Claire opened a law practice specializing in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), a federal law that sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established pension and health plans in private industry to provide protection for individuals in these plans.
Rosina graduated from Ohio State in 2007 with majors in Italian and Classics. After completing law school at the University of Cincinnati, Rosina's first two jobs were in Akron. Rosina now works as an associate attorney with Taft, Stettinius & Hollister LLP in the Health and Life Sciences Practice Group in Columbus. “On a less serious note,” said Rosina, “I was captain of the UC Law intramural flag football team, which was undefeated and won the intramural championship for the entire university!” No one in FRIT was surprised by this, as it was Rosina who organized the first bocce tournament for FRIT.
Juan graduated from Ohio State with majors in Italian and Linguistics in 2009. He jokes that he started studying Italian by “mistake.” During freshman orientation, he was told that he needed to study a foreign language, even though he already spoke English and Spanish. He picked Italian: “if I ever get the chance to go to Europe,” he told himself, “I’d start in Italy and I’d like to order a slice of pizza in Italian.” By the time the mistake was caught, he was hooked on the language (and could order a lot more than just pizza).
Juan really enjoyed his experience with Italian at Ohio State. He had a fantastic time ‘dj-ing’ for the CLLC Radio course and completing a summer study abroad program in Siena, Italy. After graduation he returned to Siena for a graduate program. Once in Italy, Juan took a part-time position with the Siena Italian Studies program and soon worked up to the position of Program Coordinator. He believes studying foreign languages is a fantastic opportunity, for both professional and personal development. Juan Carlos also writes TheStudyAbroadGuru.com, a blog that helps students prepare for their experience overseas.
Danielle graduated from Ohio State in 2015 with her bachelor’s degree in French, and minor in International Studies. After Ohio State, she went on to receive her master’s degree in French at the University of Cincinnati, where she taught French 101 and 102 for two years. During her time at UC, Danielle became certified to become a high school French teacher. She currently teaches all levels of French at Batavia High School in Batavia, Ohio and is an online adjunct professor of French for Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington, Indiana.
While an undergraduate at Ohio State, Danielle studied abroad through IES’s study abroad program in Nantes, France for a semester. She also was a part of Mount Leadership Society, a scholar’s program at OSU. Danielle also volunteered at local high schools to get a feel for her future career as a French Teacher. Her favorite part about Ohio State was the professors that she had along the way. Danielle Marx-Scouras had a huge impact on why she chose to continue her studies at UC, as well as gave her the confidence she needed to excel in French.
Kyle graduated in 2014 with a minor in French. His interest in French began in high school and has already taken him to Belgium and landed him a job he loves. Kyle decided to continue studying French in college because he knew that speaking a foreign language would be a valuable asset. Kyle studied abroad in Belgium and gained a lot of appreciation for the life, culture, food, and music of the French-speaking world.
During his senior year at Ohio State, Kyle began volunteering at the Ecole Kenwood, a French immersion school in Columbus. He loved working with the kids and using his French skills. After graduating, Kyle was able to start working at the school as a long-term substitute teacher. He loves being immersed in French, especially since most of the other teachers at the school are native speakers. He is excited to go to work every day and see just how quickly the kids pick up the new language.
Jessica graduated from Ohio State in 2008 with majors in French and Physics and a minor in Mathematics. After whipping through the basic language courses in French, Jessica decided to study abroad in Dijon, France and to complete the minor. After her experience abroad, she was so hooked on the culture that she made room in her schedule to complete a French major. As a senior, Jessica found a way to marry her too academic loves by writing an Honors thesis on women in the science professions in France. Jessica had earlier discovered that the percentage of women in the science professions was significantly higher in France than in the United States, so she packed her bags and set off for Paris to find out why. That same year, Jessica learned that she would be the first female student from Ohio State, and the first Ohio State student since 1985, to win a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in the UK.
Jessica now teaches middle school math and science at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, encouraging both girls and boys to appreciate both the sciences and the humanities. Jessica believes that her knowledge of French constantly adds to the value of her personal and professional lives, even if it is not vital to work she is currently doing. Her experience is that most employers appreciate the discipline it takes to master languages. In her current position, she is able to build a closer bond with her students by helping them with their French homework. In her first teaching position, she taught predominantly Hispanic students. Because of the similarity of French and Spanish, she was able to understand them even when they did not speak English. On a personal note, Jessica is able to communicate in French with her husband’s Canadian family.
Tim had so many interests in college that he ended up majoring in three subject: French, International Studies, and Journalism. While at Ohio State, Tim studied abroad twice: once at the Centre International d’Etudes Françaises (CIEF) in Dijon and a second time at The Arabic Language Institute in Fez (ALIF), Morocco on a Boren Scholarship.
Tim admits that he didn’t have a concrete career plan in college; he chose to study subjects he loved and to be open to different possibilities. He believes that striving for success and keeping your eye out for opportunities are key to finding a career you love. Tim now works as a Food Security Analyst and uses, he says, all of the knowledge and skills he gained in his eclectic mix of majors. His current job began as a temporary position, but as he learned about all the sectors relevant to food security–agroclimatology, agronomy, nutrition, livelihoods, markets and trade–he took on a more permanent position in the organization.
Meredith earned a BA in Italian in 2014. She taught English on the SITE (Study, Intercultural Training and Experience) program for three months in Brescia, Italy, then moved to a school in nearby Sarezzo. Of her experience in Brescia she says: “I taught lessons on everything from grammar, to situational uses of English (how to talk on the phone, visit the doctor, etc.), to explanations of American culture such as holidays and traditions.” At Sarezzo, where she taught 12 classes a week, she focused on a broader variety of topics. An extra benefit was that she was able to use the weekends to explore the city and to travel around Italy.
Karen “stumbled” into Italian as a major that fit into her schedule as an undergraduate at Ohio State while getting certification in dental hygiene. “Because my father was a first generation Italian-American,” she says, “the language interested me. After taking my required three quarters freshman year, I decided to major in the language. I loved it! My grandmother took me with her to Italy for a month – the summer between my freshman and sophomore years – to visit her sister. My great aunt lived just outside of Florence, so I got to see most of Tuscany, and we made trips to Milano, Venezia, Pisa, and other small villages, too. It was an incredible experience. The language endeared me to my Nonna, as we could have wonderful conversations in Italian.”
After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Anna traveled there to assist with relief. She studied French to be able to communicate with the Haitian people. Anna enjoys the challenges of her job. “Every day brings a new challenge, especially in a community where there are scarce resources and overwhelming need. Anytime we are able to bring a smile to a face that was once weighed down by hopelessness and poverty, that makes my day.”