HomeNews & Views Blogger Abroad: Putting Language Skills to Work at an International Career Fair

Blogger Abroad: Putting Language Skills to Work at an International Career Fair


“Your Story on the Rails” summer blogger and study abroad student, Charlie, is checking back in to share news—this time, from the City of Light!

Study abroad students are often experts on multitasking and making the most of every moment of their journey. In this instance, Charlie used a trip to an expo in Paris (see his photo checking out gear from a military vendor below!) to try his hand at earning an internship with a leader in his field—and his language skills helped him to make the connection! In his words:

As an Aerospace Engineer (in-training), I had the really exciting opportunity of attending the “Salon international de l’aéronautique et de l’espace,” a.k.a. The Paris Air Show. Originally, I had only planned on going to nerd-out over a bunch of planes. The night before I left, though, I learned there would also be a career fair there, and I wanted to try my luck. Before I continue with the story, it’s important to note that I can barely say “please” and “thank you” in French, much less try to convince someone to give me an internship. Regardless, I printed out copies of my resume and went to the fair.

The first few companies I went to were friendly enough, but the recruiters kindly said something along the lines of: “Je ne parle pas anglais ou allemand” (which I quickly Googled to mean: “I don’t speak English or German”). At that point, I decided I needed to revamp my approach. After some careful planning, and practicing with a bemused security guard, I mastered the monumental phrase:

“Bonjour, parlez-vous anglais ou allemand?” (“Hi, do you speak English or German?”)

The next booth I went to was a pretty important company in my field: Airbus.

With what I hoped to be an internship-inspiring smile, I walked up to the recruiter, shook her hand, and blurted out my phrase. She seemed a bit amused at first, but quickly smiled and broke into excellent German.

While I wouldn’t belittle the earlier recruiters for simply saying they didn’t speak my language, I think there was substantial value in my short phrase.

Perhaps in relation to my poor French, I still haven’t been offered any positions yet—but I remain hopeful!

Have you completed an internship abroad or with an international company as a way to practice and strengthen your language skills? Tell us about it @LeadWLanguages on social media!

Just getting started? Speak with a college advisor, check the websites of companies in your aspired field, and see the Intern Abroad dropdown list on our Study Abroad Programs page for resources and ideas.

Charlie blog 3: Air Show