Alumni Spotlight – Bilingual and Loving It


Her French skills, honed through language exchanges during a semester abroad in Paris with Central College, got Katie Huff ’11 her first job and recently a promotion, with opportunities to travel internationally.

The business management major with minors in French and economics is currently pursuing an M.B.A. while working as a bilingual dealer service representative for John Deere Financial in Johnston. Soon, she will become a John Deere Financial credit analyst, “getting to work on the construction and forestry side.”

In her current work, the Loveland, Colo., native is the main point of contact for John Deere dealers who sell John Deere equipment and have billing issues to resolve. “I was hired because I spoke French and they were transitioning the group that supports the Quebec dealers from the Canada office to the Johnston office,” Huff says. “There are so many aspects of the business, like exchange rate differences and pricing, that you just don’t think about. It really interests me to learn about the cultural differences in all of these countries.”

Huff has travelled to Ontario and India for John Deere and says having previous travel experience was a key factor in getting selected for those opportunities to travel abroad for work.

“My study abroad experiences help me to not make assumptions about people and cultures. I wouldn’t have felt confident in my French speaking abilities without the Central abroad experience. It definitely helped me to get the job,” Huff says.

“Study abroad makes you more well rounded. You mature and learn about yourself and your interests. Having a native French roommate and taking a variety of classes in French with other international students was the most memorable part of the experience for me—you interact with native speakers who want to improve their English and you gain so much by spending time with them.”

Huff’s only regret is that she couldn’t fit another study abroad experience into her busy schedule. “I wish I could go back and do a second semester abroad. You never get another opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and study. The next time you go, you will be working so you can’t explore the way you can as a student. When you study abroad, you make the most of the opportunities.”

Huff managed to make the most of her own travel experience while completing a major and two minors. She also played volleyball, worked in the admission office, tutored fellow economics students and balanced three internships, including one for the Central College Abroad office.

“I was very busy as a Central student, but you can do it all and still fit in study abroad,” Huff says. “It’s about the whole experience, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. “

Huff’s ambitions continue—she expects to finish her M.B.A. in three years, while learning her new job and, not surprisingly, also plans to take advantage of an international educational experience offered through the graduate program.

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