Coordinating the global contact networks of the software company Epic, Leah Anderson jumped at the chance to apply her language skills by translating medical forms into Spanish and Chinese. However, unlike the other panelists, today she only makes the occasional professional use of her foreign languages—Spanish and Chinese, which she studied at Middlebury.
Paradoxically, because she's not often called upon to apply her languages directly to her job, Anderson has noticed the more indirect boons of learning them: “I’m still using the skills that I gained studying a foreign language.” Memorizing Mandarin characters and practicing her conversational Spanish for years provided her with mental exercise and endowed her with reserves of discipline and discernment that she summons up on a daily basis.
Even if you don’t build your career on languages, by studying one you gain “confidence in communication, attention to detail, the ability to manage a project.” Language acquisition, Anderson insists, teaches us above all to be effective organizers and keen listeners—the kind of workers employers seek.
“I really do think that my background in languages is what has allowed me to become successful,” she says.
|Leah Kathleen Anderson, a Middlebury College alumna from the Class of 2009, majored in Chinese language and literature and then went on to receive her MA from Middlebury in Spanish linguistics in 2011. Fluent in Chinese, Anderson is also proficient in basic Russian. She is currently working for Epic, in Verona, Wisconsin. Epic's market focus is large health-care organizations involved in making substantial long-term financial investment in technology. There she manages projects for the chief executive and coordinates meetings for top health-care professionals. While at Middlebury she directed the RIDDIM World Dance Troupe.|