The Golden Ticket To A Job In Tech?
Ask any of the major tech giants ‘what’s the golden ticket to getting a job here?’ and the answer will be universal. Having mastered more than one language is the key. There are obvious reasons for this but dig a little deeper and you’ll find that multilingual employees bring a lot more to the table than fluency in languages.
Ok, so let’s dissect the obvious reason first — Currently two thirds of the world’s population speak two or more languages; this represents over 3.5 billion people. Tech companies are fundamentally global, spanning every country, culture and race. Their customer base is worldwide and therefore they need to recruit people that can communicate with more than one target audience.
In an increasingly competitive and international jobs market, European languages such as Portuguese, French, Spanish, Italian and German are increasingly valuable to employers, while fluency in languages relating to emerging markets such as Mandarin and Russian are like pure gold. Ultimately, multilingual graduates are a key asset to capitalise on opportunities for growth in overseas markets.
Now, for the less obvious reasons. While speaking a second language has obvious communication benefits, there are other cognitive skills that bilingual speakers develop which are highly attractive to tech company recruiters. Recent studies show that students who obtain a second or third language are more flexible, more creative and more fluent in their mother tongue. They also communicate more clearly and accurately to diverse audiences. Research also shows that the bilingual brain has better attention to detail and task-switching capacities than the monolingual brain, thanks to its developed ability to inhibit one language while using another.
Also, those who have studied languages throughout their degree often spend time in the country of the language they’re learning — sometimes a semester, often an entire year as part of an erasmus. During this time, they are immersed in the culture, tradition and social norms of the country. They gather deep insights into different ways of thinking and living for people around the globe. This is huge plus for tech companies, as it means they can forge excellent relationships with overseas clients, strengthening a company’s international partnerships.
My advice is to take every opportunity available to expand your horizons while studying for your degree. Learning languages may not be core to your degree programme but you can try learning them independently, or by joining a not-for-credit class. Befriend the people who you study with that are from different countries and seek to learn as much as possible about their culture.
Travel if you can, and as far as you can. If there’s an erasmus option, take it! Languages aside, you can add significant value to your profile by immersing yourself in international experiences and this will ultimately help you stand out against other candidates. Aside from nurturing a diverse perspective on life and an understanding of others, it will show prospective employers that you’re independent, inquisitive and challenge orientated, all of which are key strengths for employees in tech (and most other jobs!).