What have you been up to since graduation and what are you doing at the moment?
After I graduated from OU, I spent 2 years in South Korea as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. I applied for Fulbright after Dr. Houston (a previous Italian language director) encouraged me to do so. My grandma was Korean, which was my motivation for going to Korea. I am now a graduate student at the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies in Bologna, Italy studying International Affairs. It feels good to be back in the Italian environment again.
What professional/academic accomplishment are you most proud of?
I think interning in the Economic Section at the US Embassy to Italy my junior year of undergraduate is the professional accomplishment I’m most proud of because it was the experience that most aligned with my future goals (becoming a Foreign Service Officer). However, I just recently got my first ‘real’ (part-time) job… I’m a Junior Trade Analyst for the Global Trade Alert in Switzerland. My area of focus will be South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. I will monitor Italian trade interventions as well. This job makes me feel like my years of studying language finally paid off because the organization really sought someone who could speak Korean and Italian.
How did Italian @ OU help you get to where you are today? How did your study abroad experience shape your personal and professional development?
I would not change my decision to study Italian for the world. People would often point out that Italian was spoken in very few countries, so it seemed less valuable in the professional world. I, on the other hand, always saw this as a positive aspect! When there were internship or job opportunities for Italian speakers, the competition was much less fierce. Also, there were far less native speakers with which I was in competition. I remember that at OU, Dr. Houston selected me a few times to translate various meetings for Italian companies coming to Oklahoma. I often think that I probably would not have had those experiences had I studied Spanish or French (where I had to compete with native speakers).
My study abroad to the University of Bologna in Italy my junior year allowed me to have an immersive academic experience in Italian. Since all my classes were in Italian and I lived with Italians, my language capabilities improved immensely.
What advice would you give to current students of Italian at OU?
My advice would be: study what you love and follow your passion. Who cares if someone says that you’ll never find a job if you major or minor in Italian, because you most definitely can. We all have a destiny, and it’s important to follow it. I remember people telling me that it was next to impossible to find a job in international relations (my other major along with Italian) straight out of undergrad, but people do it all the time with a bit of hard work. There are careers for everything. I would also advise others that it’s okay to not have it all figured out. In fact, it’s completely normal!