Student Reflection

Screen shot of an educadora document the student created in Spanish
by Christine Kurt

Making SPAN 232 a strength of your CV

It’s no secret that a second language is a monumental asset to any CV or resume; however, with growing numbers of students learning second languages, how does one stand out from the pack? The unique aspect of SPAN 232 was the balance of in class “technical” skills and community-based, primary experience. On one of the last few days of class, our discussion section complied some ideas of how to translate these experiences (both in and out of class) onto a CV. We separated the chalkboard into both professional and personal areas. Here are some key-points discussed in class:

1. Computer program skills

I would be lying if I said I had even thought of spreadsheets before my community volunteering- my Excel experience was limited to a computer class I took freshman year of high school. However, volunteering in the Child Care Resource Center allowed me to conjure up my knowledge of computer programs I hadn’t used since high school. For the newsletter pictured above, I got to use Microsoft Publisher and became acclimated to a completely new program. Couple this technical knowledge with communicating information in Spanish and English, and you can market yourself as someone who is proficient in many Microsoft Office programs in both Spanish and English.

2. Cultural awareness

I’ve talked about this in previous blogs, but this is a great addition to a resume that is very unique to the class. In an increasingly globalized world, employers are eager to hire culturally-knowledgeable individuals. Having firsthand experience with the Spanish-speaking populations in Champaign and Urbana is very beneficial to attaining and developing cultural awareness. The in-class portion focuses on hardships surrounding the CU community, such as living in areas lacking transportation and the difficulties of working jobs on a school year schedule. However, the successes and difficulties faced by Spanish-speakers across the country are highlighted as well. The community portion allows you to see these achievements and adversities firsthand. For example, I had never known the degree to which obesity and lack of healthcare affect the Spanish-speaking community. The cultural competence gained in this class could easily translate into any career field.

3. General office skills

A task such as taking a note for a supervisor out of the office, recording a phone number, or jotting down an address can seem rather effortless initially. Now, imagine doing this in your second language when the speaker isn’t talking slowly. Not as easy anymore. Something that really helped me in class was practicing leaving notes with vital information using material from a brief message (usually containing phone numbers, addresses, and facts regarding a question or concern) in Spanish. Sounds easy enough, but when actually tasked with this, our class found it pretty difficult. Practicing these basic office skills and translating them to the community helped me realize how essential “the basics” are to having an office run smoothly. Being able to communicate efficiently and accurately with Spanish-speaking clients or coworkers is a highly desirable skill.

4. Friendships and contacts gained from volunteering

Based on my own experiences and those I’ve heard from classmates, many of us have gained friends and mentors through volunteering. Milagros, my supervisor, has become like a second mother to me and has made my volunteering experience extremely enjoyable. Additionally, she has mentioned many times that if I ever need a reference for a job in the future, to feel free to list her. Having someone who can attest to your Spanish speaking abilities firsthand would be highly beneficial to any resume. I also was able to network with professors in my major who worked on the project, something that may be useful when applying to graduate programs. In summary, I met many amazing and inspiring individuals through my volunteering experience- even more than I could have anticipated at the beginning of the semester. 


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