If you study chemistry, you become a chemist. But, if you study Russian (or Polish or Croatian), you don’t become a Russian (or a Pole or a Croat).
The career path from studying a language to acquiring a professional is not as obvious as studying in a professional school (journalism, education, business, pharmacy). Your undergraduate preparation in Slavic languages, in contrast, can prepare you for an even wider range of possible employment opportunities.
Job ads for entry level positions often require applicants to have “excellent written and oral communication skills.” Your undergraduate course work in Slavic languages is going to help you develop and hone those skills in the following ways.
The Humanities as career preparation
Your course work includes many assignments that require you to develop skills in critical reading, writing, and public speaking. In this way, your course work prepares you for all careers that require reading and gathering complex information, considering the reliability of sources, and synthesizing that information. Your essays on course exams, reflection papers, and research papers prepare you to write effectively and to communicate ideas with clarity and precision.
Language study as career preparation
Your language learning course work will push you to think long and hard about how languages work to express nuances of thought. Learning how to speak another language will teach you to reflect on how people communicate and to become flexible in using multiple resources to get your point across. Learning a language develops your skills at noticing subtle differences and paying attention to detail and accuracy. Reading articles and stories and viewing films from other countries will introduce you to other cultures and other ways of seeing and experiencing the world.
Language and culture study as career preparation
Learning a language is learning another culture. You will learn to recognize its patterns of thinking, experiencing the world, and its systems of values. Studying the novels, films, and artistic products of other cultures gives you grounded insights into how other cultures think about the world and the experiences of everyday life. Studying abroad in Eastern Europe and Russia gives you opportunities to learn and live in another culture and to understand what it means to be a global citizen.
The skills that you acquire can lead you to work in business, government and nonprofit organizations, such as: arts/ cultural organizations, news/ media/ entertainment businesses, community development, environmental and public health organizations, government (Departments of State, Education, Commerce, Finance, Defense; agencies dealing with national security and international law enforcement), libraries and information services, museums and historical societies, and education, to name just a few.
Combining your major in Slavic languages with a second major in another field or professional school will expand your knowledge and skills even further.
An undergraduate major in Slavic can also serve as strong preparation for graduate study in a professional school (law, journalism, information sciences and others) or for graduate study in Slavic languages and literatures.
So, if you’re still wondering “what can I do with a BA in Slavic?” read our Doers’ Page where our alumni write in about what they are doing now and how they are using their language background in their current professions.