Q&A with Spanish alumna Emily Peck
- Wednesday, July 7th, 2021
Why did you decide to major in Spanish?
I chose to major in Business Administration and was looking for a way to differentiate myself from my peers. I have always loved learning about other cultures and was intrigued by the potential of incorporating that into my career.
What were three highlights of your program?
Getting to study abroad in Costa Rica and live with a host “Mama Tica,” the special friendships you make with classmates as you all try to learn a new language together, and learning from professors that have diverse backgrounds and experiences.
Did you study abroad? If so, please discuss where that took place and how it benefited you.
I studied at Harlaxton (England) before deciding to major in Spanish. Once I became a Spanish major, I studied abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica through Sol Education for 9 weeks in the summer of 2017. The study abroad was hugely beneficial because every day I was speaking in Spanish with my host mom and learning about Costa Rican culture firsthand. I was able to make friends with local students as well so I was able to constantly be speaking in Spanish.
What are you currently doing professionally? How does your proficiency in Spanish help you?
I work at Valvoline’s Word Headquarters in Lexington, KY where I am the Associate Trade Marketing Manager for Latin America. Through this job, comma I manage promotions, sales contests, and other trade marketing activities for our distributor network throughout Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean islands. I get to travel frequently to visit distributors and host reward trips for sales contests. I spend about 50% of every day working in Spanish. My proficiency has been vital to my role. I have found that I am more highly respected and trusted by coworkers and customers in other countries by speaking with them in Spanish than my coworkers who have to rely on communicating in English.
Why should college students consider majoring in a language?
Definitely! It has opened doors to jobs that I didn’t know existed and has made my career so much more interesting and fun.
What advice would you have for those who are struggling to learn another language?
Even when you are scared or uncomfortable with your level of proficiency, speak the language anyway. Fumble through it the best you can, and I promise that you will improve. People are very understanding when you put the effort forth to try to speak to them in their language, and if they don’t understand something they will just ask! This was the most important advice I was given when I started my job because I was terrified of people hearing me speak in Spanish, comma but three years later, my proficiency has improved exponentially.