How Spanish Fostered New Opportunities

woman posing on staircase in Spain
Alison Trainor on her study abroad in Valencia, Spain.

Growing up in a family of Spartans, attending Michigan State University was a no-brainer for senior Alison Trainor, but deciding on a major wasn’t as easy of a decision.

Studying Spanish and Going Abroad

When Trainor first came to MSU, she was on the nursing track until she realized how much she enjoyed her Spanish language electives. During her sophomore year and after much deliberation and exploration of all that MSU has to offer, Trainor officially declared a major in Spanish. She then secured her interest by going on the Spanish Language, Literature, and Culture study abroad to Valencia, Spain.

“We spoke Spanish the entire summer and were really able to immerse ourselves into the culture,” Trainor said. “Aside from coming back with more knowledge and confidence than before, I came back being more aware of the transferrable skills I have as a Spanish student.”

Trainor’s Spanish studies also have helped her learn more about her own personal culture and first language.

Learning things that are so foreign allows you to learn more about yourself. 

“Learning things that are so foreign allows you to learn more about yourself. It makes you more aware of the lives around you,” she said. And, if you can do it in Spanish, it makes everything in English much easier. My Spanish education has helped me become that much more confident speaking in my own language.”

Interning On and Off Campus

During the summer of 2016, Trainor interned for a local languages service organization, 7CLingo Cross Cultural Communications in Lansing, where she put her cultural studies into practice. Here she worked with translators and interpreters to pair them with clients that needed document or onsite translation services.

“I really benefited from the previous culture-centric classes I took at MSU while in this position,” Trainor said. “I really became more culturally aware on a local scale.”

This experience was particularly worthwhile as it opened her eyes to all the different types of careers open to those with Spanish degrees.

“It was a major learning curve because I learned there was a business culture in my area of interest,” said Trainor, adding that her career strategies class, AL 250, also was helpful with applying her Spanish degree to different jobs. “There are so many resources, but this course really helped to streamline what we could do after graduation.”

I really became more culturally aware on a local scale.

Currently, Trainor works for the Department of Romance and Classical Studies as a communications intern where she runs the department’s social media accounts and works on various events. She enjoys working closely within the department her studies are in.

Graduation and Beyond

As she looks forward to graduating in May, Trainor offers this advice to incoming Spartans:

“Use the resources that exist for you. There are so many within the departments, colleges, and especially Wells Hall,” she said. “Get involved and try to incorporate the language you’re studying on your own time and do the extra work. MSU provides so many resources outside of class; you just have to make the effort to utilize them.”

Following graduation, Trainor, who is minoring in health promotions and Latin American and Caribbean studies, plans to move to New York City to work as a Research Assistant for the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health at Columbia University. The center focuses on research that shows how stress and other emotional factors can affect cardiac health.

“Most of the trial participants for the center are local Spanish speakers,” Trainor said, “and I’m really excited to combined the skills from each of my areas of study.”