Yeah, so I just got back from my crazy summer touring the world. Now it’s time to come back down to earth. I have to find a job (full-time for one year) while simultaneously putting together my graduate school applications. I plan to go into Latin American Studies and it would be great if I could use Spanish on the job, especially considering it’s the thing I am (diploma-wise) most qualified to do.
So here I am, with a B.A. in Spanish (extensive reading and writing), a ton of ESL volunteer experience, and a social psychology research credit (I did the work in Spanish), needing an entry level job. The hits I get on Monster.com seem to be customer-service oriented (working telephones, translating materials, etc) which would be fine. They all carry requirements about ‘‘bi-lingual’’ and ‘‘fluency in Spanish.’’
Can someone please tell me what the hell the actual definition of fluency is? Because I get asked whether or not I am fluent all the time, and I know it will come up in the job interviews, as that is the skill they need.
If they mean fluency as in, ‘‘you speak Spanish as well as you speak English,’’ then obviously I’m not fluent. But if they mean it as in, ‘‘You can communicate just about anything, with limited grammatical mistakes, even though it might take a couple tries or you have to ask people to repeat themselves from time to time…’’ well, that’s more or less what I’m at, language ability-wise. When I lived in Mexico I conducted classes bilingually and interacted for two months in nothing but Spanish, but I made a lot of mistakes and certain accents are harder to understand than others, so WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
And then it’s all about context. I figure if I got a customer service job, there would be lots of very repeated vocabulary, and it would be easy once I just mastered the limited context of the work I was doing. What I mean is, does it matter that I couldn’t, say, interpret a locker-room conversation if I can fully communicate concepts like, ‘‘left click your mouse on the little icon’’ or whatever the hell customer service reps have to say? Because I can easily learn that stuff.
Sorry, this is kind of ranty. I’m just not sure whether I’m qualified for these kinds of jobs–and if I’m not, what options does that leave me? I’ve spent the majority of my college career working at restaurants, but one of those jobs is not going to help me pay off student loans before grad school–and besides, I think I’d rather walk barefoot on snails than work in another godforsaken restaurant. I think I’d even rather do retail.
Any advice that sounds like it is even remotely related to this post will be most gratefully appreciated.