Student approaches guest speaker with idea, receives paid internship

Photo of Emma Graham

From an early age, Emma Graham was taught to “value language.” Originally from South Africa, Graham and her family moved to Atlanta when she was three years old. Both her parents knew how to speak English and Afrikaans, and Graham saw how it helped their careers as she grew up in the Atlanta area. She kept language at the core of her education and has found a way to pair her affinity for language with her passion for helping people by majoring in both nursing and Spanish – international trade. 

“My ultimate plan is to be a neonatal nurse. I am fascinated with language and its ability to connect people, but also how it can be a nuisance to others when they're in a place where they don't speak the same language. Someone who goes to the hospital, for instance, maybe even into the emergency room, often feels helpless because they don't know what's wrong with them, or what's going on. To be able to take away that pressure of not knowing the language, which is one aspect of their helplessness, is exactly what I want to be able to do,” Graham said.

Graham has gained invaluable nursing experience by being a hospital volunteer, but she has obtained valuable language experience through chicken salad. Graham explains: “During the second week of LBAR (a liberal arts career preparation class), Stacy Brown, who is the founder of Chicken Salad Chick, was a guest speaker. While she was talking about her company and how she founded it, my very linguistic mind was asking how language has affected her company’s expansion into the Western and Southern parts of the United States,” Graham recalled. 

When the class was over, Graham waited in line to talk with Brown. 

“I asked her how they are incorporating language considerations into their expansions in places like Texas and Florida – both of which have huge Spanish-speaking populations. She said that they were planning to address that in their next steps, and so I took the opportunity right there and offered to translate for them,” Graham said. 

After exchanging email addresses, Graham met with Brown and her team to discuss the materials that would need to be translated. The first item, they discovered, would be the name of the restaurant. 

“There are ways to make your brand more appealing to Spanish speakers,” Graham said. Since the names of the chicken salad couldn’t change because they were named after real people, Graham suggested that the ingredients be translated. Another issue, according to Graham, was that the chicken salad itself doesn’t quite exist the same way in Spanish-speaking cultures. 

“Chicken salad isn't necessarily the same in a lot of Spanish speaking countries. It might be lettuce with chicken instead of a mayonnaise-based,” Graham said. 

After Graham spent time talking about all the things she had thought about in regards to expansion and translation, she was offered a paid internship with Chicken Salad Chick. 

“I ended up doing a semester-long internship. I went in thinking it would be just part of my project for school and I got way more out of it than I could've ever expected. I have absolutely loved it. I have learned not only more about Spanish, but more about English, because there are so many different ways to say one thing that you never knew.” 

Graham will be graduating in December and is planning to attend graduate school in the spring.

Written by Vicky Santos, director, news and media services in the College of Liberal Arts. 

Author's note: The Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures offers a degree in Foreign Languages/International Trade in French, German, or Spanish. This degree program provides a major in the language, including courses in business languages, plus a concentration (30 semester hours) in business courses, including International Economics and Multinational Financial Management.

It is strongly recommended that students check with the College of Business about the application period and process to enroll in courses as a Non-Business major.

The degree is designed to provide the student with a solid foundation in the language, with in-depth study in communicating in a business environment on a variety of topics. As a Liberal Arts degree, its main strength is the wide range of knowledge the student acquires in the language, history, culture and business practices in the countries where their chosen language is spoken. In addition, it gives the student a broad base in the major areas of business studies: economics, accounting, management, marketing, and finance.

Last Updated: July 19, 2018