Ross Larson '02

Learning Languages—in More Ways than One

Graduating with a double major in psychology and French, Ross enjoyed the time he spent on two different sides of campus. He also learned a lot studying abroad in Nantes, France, taking courses with IES and the Université de Nantes. Some of his favorite classes included Conversation & Phonetics and Business French, both of which have played heavily into his careers post-graduation. For the first seven years of his career, Ross worked in bilingual consumer services for a Fortune 500 company in Wisconsin. In that position, he was responsible for communicating to North American consumers in English and French about their product questions and concerns, both speaking and in writing.

Ross’s love for language goes beyond French, English, and Norwegian, however. “I decided to use my language experience to learn a slightly different set of languages, including Python, Java, PHP, and C#,” he says. For the past seven years, he’s been a software developer.

“Learning two foreign languages at Luther helped prepare me to think critically about the structure and syntax of languages and how they are used to convey ideas and communicate intent. I was able to leverage this experience when learning programming languages, as well as paying attention to software developers who speak French,” he says.

Ross’s language skills have benefited his customer service skills as well. “Having experience communicating with French Canadians has been very useful in the ongoing process of making my new coworkers feel welcomed and valued. It’s especially helpful since we’re in the process of forming a single company that provides services not only in North America but internationally as well,” he says.

A Gateway to Other Worlds

“Learning another language is a gateway into a world that was previously closed off,” Ross says. As cultures continue to diversify and expand, bridging people through language becomes increasingly important. “Having access to different languages allows the introduction of alternate viewpoints and cultures into my worldview, which can help me to better understand both myself and the events in the country where we live.”

If You Don’t Know, Try

“Going back to retrain yourself once family and financial responsibilities are introduced into the equation is much more difficult than doing it at a younger age,” says Ross. “Take advantage of the opportunities available, and don't be afraid of being uncomfortable.”

Ross believes many doors are open to language majors. “You just have to try things out to see what fits you,” he says. “Challenge yourself to keep learning as well as helping others. Use your brain and drive to make the world a little bit better.”