The numerous benefits of interning with a language
Ireland has one of the most open economies in the world. With that comes the necessity for companies to employ the required language skills across all sectors of the market. With the right skills and work placement, language graduates are in a strong position.
Ekaterina Kolesnikova is Russian and speaks three languages; her native Russian, English and intermediate German. She, alongside team members from Russia, won an international competition run by Pernod-Ricard, the owner of Jameson, where her prize was a year-long placement with the International Marketing team at Irish Distillers in Dublin.
She’s been in her placement over eight months now and is Regional Strategic Assistant for the Russian market with the company. Ekaterina talked to gradireland about some of the benefits of having additional languages in your working life.
Having your own niche: Speaking foreign languages gives you a distinct competitive advantage over others in the job market. Ekaterina said when she finishes her placement, she wishes to stay in Ireland or go to one of Pernod-Ricard’s affiliates in continental Europe. Before even considering her strong skillset, speaking Russian gives her an advantage as relatively few other job seekers have that skill. This is true for all languages and even so for more mainstream languages like German, which is frequently taught in Irish schools. Employers find it difficult to source appropriate candidates for German speaking positions.
Improving your languages further: Speaking like a native takes years of practice in any language no matter how difficult. You can still achieve fluency and professional working proficiency even without speaking like a native. Ekaterina came to Ireland with strong English but it has improved since coming here. “My English was good before I came but it’s definitely improved since I arrived. I speak it both at home and at work. My listening skills, especially with local people, are better, and I feel a lot more confident in English now than I did before”.
Insider knowledge: Speaking the language is essential, but there’s also indirect benefits of language learning like a strong understanding of that market. “Yes it’s important that I speak Russian with companies in the market which makes them feel more comfortable, but it’s also necessary that I have an understanding of Russia and what happens there. It’s important to have a good understanding of the country and what is important there. My knowledge of the market and the Russian consumer really helps”, she says.
International companies: The world’s biggest companies operate across international markets and require strong language skills. “I work with a diverse and international team at Irish Distillers and that brings the experiences of working with colleagues from different cultures and backgrounds, which is in itself another asset for the company,” she adds. Having additional languages also opens up the possibility to travel in a professional capacity. "Those with languages are more likely to be given the independence to go on business trips as they are the ones who can connect with clients and customers in their own language", she adds.
Personal experience: Of course it’s not just the professional advantages of having languages but also the personal experiences which are numerous. As a result of her strong skills and language proficiency, Ekaterina has had the opportunity to move to Ireland and immerse herself in another culture, an experience which she views as very positive. “Dublin is a fantastic place to be”, she says. “Culturally it has so many authentic restaurants, lots of theatres and museums and the people are incredibly friendly. Dublin is such an international city and everybody is very welcoming. From a personal and professional perspective, learning a language, and learning to work in that language has so much to offer and is extremely rewarding”.