My situation: 28, a French engineer (from a "Grande Ecole") and currently doing a PhD in Computer Vision / Deep Learning.

I have always been passionate about learning languages, and I am fortunate to have parents that taught me well in this regard.

I currently speak fluently (as in "I can at least work in with people in said language"): French / English / Spanish / Russian / Portuguese.

I also have beginner/intermediate knowledge of Ukrainian and Chinese.

What can I do with all this knowledge? Note that I have learnt these languages because I love studying them. But if I earn more money at the same time, even better!

Edit: in response to the comments / answers, I am not interested for now in completely switching fields, as becoming a full-time translator. Still, if the offer is good enough and the job is not full time (like giving conferences once a week), why not?

As a side note, I am not really sure about what to do after my PhD. The "default path" would be to work in R&D, be it in France or abroad. However, in France, it seems that unless I start having more responsibilities (so moving up to managerial roles), become a consultant, or have my own - hopefully successful - company my own pay may be "fairly good", but is not likely to ever be "great" (>70k€).

All in all, my question is more about how to seek more opportunities using the languages I can speak. I guess that I could work in the countries whose language I speak? But I have no idea where to find a job where fluently speaking 5+ languages is a "useful plus" (and not just something that looks nice on my CV). It is not like there are job offerings with this requirement (?). Any suggestions?

  • Are you qualified for translation license? Or Here. Many people got education in a field that is very different than their actual (own) business. Also a Q to yourself, do you know just the language or also the culture? – Sandra K Mar 4 '19 at 18:42
  • How do you feel about the hospitality industry? Hotel work, especially as you reach the higher levels, can be lucrative and in interesting, exotic locations. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Mar 5 '19 at 10:21
  • You can try acting. – Stupid_Intern Mar 5 '19 at 15:35
  • Come on people, read the question, he's an engineer and he's not going to switch to your suggestions, the salary alone makes it unmanageable – user90842 Mar 5 '19 at 18:12

Two things come to my mind immediately:

Work for an international firm or consultancy

Lots of companies operate globally, and a multilingual employee can make those operations smoother and less expensive (no need for translators, for example). Looking for companies that operate in countries where languages you speak are used is a good way to find places where your polyglot skills would be especially valued.

Consultancies are similar, but your position may be even better. Consultancies don't need subsidiary branches or even a major foothold in specific countries, they just need clients. If you being on staff means that they can suddenly start handling clients from totally new regions or countries, that's a big deal for them-- your presence allows them to expand the scope of potential clients considerably.

Deepen your CV

A deep learning focus is pretty versatile, and one application you might consider is examining data sets drawn from several countries/linguistic regions. It's one thing to be well-versed in deep learning, and another to be well-versed in deep learning plus a leading (or at least conversant) expert on applications in a single domain (like linguistics) across several languages.

It can, of course, be something other than linguistics. The point is that you can directly consume, analyze, and interpret data (including free, publicly available data which isn't quite accessible to those that don't understand the language) from a lot of places around the world. That's fairly rare, especially with such a large selection of languages. In my professional field (public health research) the ability to casually keep up with developments in various countries would be a big advantage, and one that is hard to imitate.

These projects can be studies that you intend to publish, or just work for your portfolio that you produce while developing more comprehensive domain knowledge on your chosen topic. The key idea for this one is that, rather than emphasizing your ability to communicate in these other languages, your command of these languages has allowed you to become a superior-tier expert and makes you an almost unique resource for a prospective employer.


I'm not sure this is quite on topic here.
Since I cannot figure out where else you should post it I will give you the best answer I have.

When I was at university (back in the 90's so adjust for inflation) I met a girl that answered the phones at a company where I was sent to do a school project.

There were three of us on the project myself and two other females. On day while we were waiting in the lobby, one of them asked the receptionist what her background was and was surprised that she had a university degree.
In an attempt to be helpful, one of them asked why she was answering the phones - the girl responded that it paid very well.

Another question was asked... it was obvious my 'lab partner' assumed that the position paid well because the girl was very attractive.

"Oh, nothing like that. [obviously not embarrassed]
I'm multilingual, so I get $20,000 added to my salary and they have great benefits here.
I get all of the German holidays, the US ones, and four weeks PTO.

[stunned silence from us]

Then she became uncomfortable and added,
"You generally earn an additional $10,000 per year per extra language that you speak."

And then, as if on cue she answered the ringing phone in German, and transferred the call to someone - which we had never heard her do before.

Even more funny to me because the engineer that we reported to was female, competent, and very obviously intelligent (although her German accent was horrible).
That set that company apart from the rest in its day in my mind - but obviously not in my lab partner's mind.

For perspective 7-10 days of PTO was common for a new Computer Science grad at the time, and I was happy to get a job offer months later at $30k... probably 10-20k less than that receptionist. But I did have free food, so I ate breakfast and lunch there five days/week :–)

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