What do Mark Zuckerberg, Malia Obama and a former Australian Prime Minister have in common?

They’ve studied Chinese.

Learning Chinese has become more popular and increasingly necessary in today’s global marketplace, giving those who can speak Mandarin greater leverage in growing their careers. With China constantly in the news and economic experts extolling China’s central role in global growth, we decided to sit down with one of our Mandarin students, business professional Mariana Cruz. A native of Mexico, Cruz exemplifies a global business perspective whose career has been elevated after taking Mandarin courses.

What made you want to learn Mandarin?
I completed a degree in International Relations from the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León where I studied foreign diplomacy. I’m currently completing my second degree from Universidad Autonoma de Mexico in economics. I was drawn to taking Mandarin courses because through my studies, I have discovered how important China is. It’s a growing economy, it’s moving supplies all around the world—China is relevant to any country that wants to expand trade and commerce. It’s ambitious to learn the language but it’s a must if you want to get your products into the Chinese market. I can’t explain how wonderful it is when I see the written language—those symbols that are so different from my native language. At first they appear confusing—the fact that I get to learn and understand them, read them, speak them is so exciting to me!

Mariana Cruz, Professional Program in Mandarin Language

How do our courses fit in with your future career goals?
Sometimes it’s not only your job experience that is necessary for growing your career; you must also have an understanding of the culture you’re working with. One of my professors at Extension, Natasha Wild, gave me vocabulary tips and feedback on how the Chinese culture works in relation to economics, which is important knowledge for me to have. We discussed cultural issues like their new policy for children. My instructors are always helpful in making the course relevant for my goals. They give me personalized attention and taught me how to properly conduct myself in scenarios where I would need to explain or talk about current events or other relevant topics. It’s knowledge like this that makes the difference between being good or great at your job.

What do you want to get out of taking Mandarin courses?
My current goal is to complete my Mandarin courses, which gives me credibility and shows that I am able to put my language skills into practice. Adding it to my resume ad incorporating it into my career will be a great achievement because I will be able to speak French, Spanish, Mandarin and English. When you apply for a job, you have to compete, right? Taking Mandarin courses demonstrates I am ready to take on any challenge and that I can be a contender for the big jobs that I aspire to.

How do you plan on putting your Mandarin skills to work?
Whatever path I choose will allow me to utilize the language and cross-cultural communication, specifically across the United States, Mexico (my home country) and China. I want to build those bridges. My dream job would be diplomacy at an embassy or at a big organization where economic forums take place and innovative ideas are created.