Careers in World Languages

A recap of the presentation given by Clemencia Fonseca, Senior Director of Global Partner Marketing for Brocade Communication Systems, at the Careers in World Languages event hosted by the Deptartment of World Languages and Literatures on November 20, 2015. 

By Lynn Chang, Interim Career Information and Employment Specialist, Liberal Arts

Career in World Languages Talk

“My father must be a spy.” 

Clemencia recalls thinking this as she describes her childhood watching her father listen to the radio in different languages. Having started as a translator early in age and then diversifying in global marketing as she gained more experience, Clemencia shared her story on how she built her career.

Growing up in Columbia, Clemencia found herself surrounded by different languages. While English and French were the standard language requirements, she quickly picked up other languages such as Portuguese (certainly not as a guise to avoid math, her least favorite subject).

After high school, she came to California for college at San Jose State University and earned a degree in Spanish and minor in International Business. It was the peak of the Internet era, and Clemencia was able to use her skills in multiple languages to translate HTML webpages. Her familiarity with the Internet got her hired by Hitachi as field marketing manager for Latin America. Before long, she was traveling all over the world – from South America to Asia Pacific. What she enjoyed most about the job were the people she met.

“I didn’t see markets, I saw cultures.” 

Clemencia talked about her experience traveling to countries where she barely spoke the language. She was open to learning, and used the 10 sentences she knew of those languages to add humor to presentations, greet people in their customs and show respect for their cultures. “People laughed,” she said describing her first experiences attempting a new language, “But it didn’t matter, because by the end of my stay people were lining outside of my office to say goodbye.”

Today, Clemencia is the senior director of global partner marketing at Brocade, with over 15 years of experience in marketing to people around the world. Here are some of the tips she gave to students:

  • Don’t start a third language unless you are comfortable with your second language. Clemencia suggested learning your second languages to the point where you can think, do math, and negotiate in that language. She shared that when she does go back to that second language while learning a third, she typically dedicates a week to familiarize herself with it again.
  • Every department can benefit from knowing a foreign language. Whether it’s customer service, human resources, or finance and accounting, knowledge in a second or even third language can be a great advantage. For example, in production and manufacturing, you may be producing products overseas while protecting labor in the US. If you have the ability to speak that language, use it!
  • Learn in their language. Many words don’t translate directly from culture to culture. Read the news in different languages – see their perspective. You will gain a broader and more in-depth understanding of global events as well as of diverse cultures.

Clemencia concluded her presentation with an important concept – languages build bridges. By learning different languages, many career opportunities will open up for you. Not only that, but you will be able to see a whole new side to different countries, cultures and people. Have an open mind – there’s always more to learn!


Lynn Chang PhotoLynn Chang is the Interim Career Information and Employment Specialist, Liberal Arts with San Jose State University (SJSU). Lynn has helped and educated many students with their career development. Lynn is finishing her Masters in Counselor Education at SJSU in December 2015. Her previous degree was in Graphic Design in University of California, Davis.


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