What Can I do with French?

Learn what you can do with your French Major/Minor from Gustavus Alumni

Here are some of the many things that you can do with a French major or minor according to our own Gustavus Alumni:

"I graduated from GAC with three majors - French, Secondary Education and Accounting. I taught middle school French for approximately 15 years and then I moved to the high school, where I taught all levels of French (I - 6) in an IB school.
I've brought students to Quebec and France on numerous occasions. I'm also an IB examiner for French, which I've been doing for approximately 15 years. In fact, I'll be in Cardiff, Wales at an IB assessmentstandardization meeting in mid-April because of this work. I came out of the French classroom to be a program director for our IB program at my high school. However, even though I've been out of the French classroom for a number of years now, but I stay current with my examiner work in IB, and it is my dream to winter in the south of France, near Arles, with my husband, several years from now."

-Kari Hoffman Christense '98

Julie Eden"Originally, my plan was to combine marketing and language into a career.  Had I stayed with Cargill Financial Services, where I received a job offer after completing my internship, this may have been a reality -- but falling in love with another Gustie, a lawyer, kept me closer to home.  My career has been one of making career and family work.  After MBA school, I worked in the growing Business Systems division of Deluxe Check.  It was an amazing experience, but I rarely used my French.  After my third child, I wanted to spend more time at home, and chose to do that, only to be invited to work part time for my church, Incarnation Lutheran, in Shoreview, MN, as its Evangelism Coordinator.
A desire to move to a smaller town led my husband and me to relocate in Menomonie, WI, where I stayed home full time with our children.  A year after our move, a part-time French teaching position at the local high school opened up.  Although not ready to give up being home with my children, it was too good to ignore.  I have been teaching French at the high school level since 2002 and the position has grown! Very exciting!  I am never bored going to work, and as I learn more about teaching through comprehensible input (I see championed by another Gustie, Grant Boulanger '97), I continue to love what I do.  My advice to anyone considering French is to major in two areas.  If you are planning on going into education, know that the ups and downs of cuts to programs can be exhausting.  In addition, in business, someone in my 3M Internship also advised me to do more than major in French.  A language skill is extremely important and will set you apart from others.  Add in another skill, and you will be very marketable".

Julie Eden '82          

French Major, Business Minor

Brittany's picture"While at Gustavus, I majored in Political Science and International Management and minored in French.  After graduating, I decided to combine my interests in international affairs, policy, and economics, so I moved to Washington, DC to attend graduate school at The George Washington University where I majored in International Trade and Investment Policy. One of the requirements for my master's degree was proficiency in a foreign language; thanks to my French minor from Gustavus, I had fulfilled that requirement before I even began classes.  During my final year of graduate school, I was named as a Presidential Management Fellow, which is a two year program working for a U.S. Government agency.  After graduation, I moved to Des Moines (très français!) and began working for the U.S. Commercial Service, a part of the International Trade Administration.  Our agency has offices throughout the U.S. as well as in almost 80 embassies worldwide.  Using our worldwide network, we help U.S. companies export their products, find buyers and distributors in foreign countries, learn about international documentation and foreign customs, and much more.  We are in continual contact with our international offices, and the foreign language and cross-cultural communication skills that I learned at Gustavus
help me everyday.  Whether it's reading foreign trade regulations, translating a company's website, reading industry news in a foreign language, or finding out information about a trade show in another country, having foreign language skills has given me an advantage in my career.  French was my first international experience, and it has given me a love of travel, cultures, and languages.  I try to practice my French skills whenever possible, and now also study Swedish, German, Norwegian, and Russian.  The French department, international programs, and study abroad programs at Gustavus truly prepared me for a successful career in international trade."

-Brittany Bauer '11 

Political Science and International Management Major, French Minor


Maren Kind   "I graduated from Gustavus in the winter of 2014 with a major in Psychological Science and minor in French.  After graduating from Gustavus I (finally) travelled to France. Having taken French Art, it was amazing to see so many familiar pieces in the museums! I enjoyed every minute, especially the views from La Tour Eiffel and Versailles. Currently, I am a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, in the Speech Language Pathology Masters program, and work with Minnetonka schools in their after school care program. I plan to work in an elementary school, with the dream being at a French immersion school."

-Maren Kind -14

"After student teaching during my senior year at Gustavus, I decided not to teach French. Instead I went to graduate school in Instructional Systems and started programming (just another language). For the past 25 years, I've been an instructional design at St. Catherine University.  This summer I will be visiting my high school French teacher. She's in her 70s and has recently retired from teaching French. We've kept in touch for over 45 years! Over the years, she's traveled around the world and continues to share her experiences with students."

-Cyndy Krey, PhD '74
French & Education Major

"I graduated in 1963 with a double major in history and French. I received a Fulbright and spent my first year of graduate school at the University of Strasbourg. My studies weren't nearly serious enough but my French became very fluent (and colloquial) because I spent so much time with French friends. The following year I applied to graduate schools in the States, submitting tapes of presentations in French, and spent my next two years at Stanford. As a graduate student, I was a teaching assistant and was responsible for classes of French 101-102 and second-year conversation. For me, teaching was the best part of graduate school. Because literary criticism had much less appeal, I left after two years and worked full-time as an editor.  
Much later, after marrying, moving to Berkeley and starting a family, I returned to editing/writing/research for a historical project where many of the primary sources were in French and the principal researcher was French. When that was completed, I took a position in a publishing company that publishes translations as well as original works in English. I translated three books from French, including the autobiography of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was then president of Haiti. I also was the go-to person for translating from French, whether footnotes or correspondence or contracts, and I used my language skills while attending the Frankfurt Book Fair for many years. Two of my great pleasures today are listening to French music and reading French novels. I've had no regrets ever about my French major, which opened so many worlds to me."
-Susan Moen Perry '63
"I graduated in 2004 with a BA in French, after having decided in the middleof a double major that Education classes were not for me.  I spent a year doing volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity in Baltimore, then went on to pursue a degree in Social Work and Theology at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul.  While there, I took Hebrew classes for the first time and fell in love with it, as I had with French so many years before.  I am now nearing the dissertation phase of my Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and Its Interpretationthrough the Jewish Theological Seminary (NYC).   While I am not directly using my French major, and French is only one of the languages in my arsenal these days, it was the first I learned *well* and it has been very valuable--not only as a modern research language, but also as a framework for a solidunderstanding of grammar and translation.  Language and teaching have remained important to me and I still hope that they will be at the center of my working life."

-Anna Marsh '04

"Depuis le semestre en France (printemps, 2004) je continue à voyager beaucoup et parle français (de plus en plus difficile, mais quand-même). Je reste en contacte un tout petit peu avec ma famille d'accueil à Dijon; pour moi, c'était l'un de meilleurs périodes de ma vie, sans doute. J'habite à Bloomington dans une petite maison sympa que j'ai acheté il y a 4 ans déjà. Laurent, prof de français, n'habite trop loin de chez moi et alors on fait des dîners quelques fois par année -- et avec Emily Miller ('05), Kristen Gupta ('05), Anne d'Argent, etc., des fois.
En janvier, j'ai lancé une entreprise et une marque de vodka, BĒT Vodka. On est dans plus de 100 magasins et des bars/restaurants en ville et partout dans l'état. C'est un vodka de haute gamme et du très bon goût qui est fait du "sugar beets." Minnesota et #1 dans la fabrications du "sugar beets" dans les États-Unis et c'est un ingrédient très unique pour les alcools. La France, en fait, est le #2 producteur mondial des sugar beets et lesÉtats-Unis #3 (la Russie est #1). Il faut visiter notre site-web www.betvodka.com. Je serai dans le prochain "Gustavus Quarterly" aussi alors regardez avec les yeux ouverts."

-Ben Brueshoff '05

"'I'm happy to say that I used my B.A. in French to become a high school French teacher. My minor was Spanish, which I also taught.  After leaving GAC I went to the University of California in Santa Barbara where I earned a Master's Degree in French. My first teaching job was in Grand Island, Nebraska where I taught for 2 years. After that I returned to Minnesota and spent the next 29 years teaching French and Spanish at Richfield High School in Richfield, MN.  I know of at least two RHS students who became French teachers.  I was very proud to have inspired them in their career choices.  I retired in 2008, and I am now substitute teaching in French and Spanish at RHS. I enjoy it very much."

-Jayne M. Sjostrom '71

"With Florence Fredericksen's help, I received a French Government Fellowship and Fulbright travel grant for a year's study in Aix en Provence the year after I graduated from Gustavus, I was accepted into graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley and received both my M.A. and Ph.D. from there.  While in Paris doing research for my dissertation, I was hired by the University of Paris VIII to teach American language and became a tenured lecturer there.  My dissertation on the Amours de Marc Papillon de Lasphrise was published by Droz in Geneva in 1979."

-Margo Callaghan ‘62

French & English Major