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Fackler: Exploring Languages Set the Stage for Professional Success

A testimonial from Georgetown College alum Katie Fackler (C’10), originally published in the Department of French and Francophone Studies newsletter in November 2018.

When I started as a freshman at Georgetown University, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I “grew up.” However, I knew exactly what I loved – traveling, exploring new cultures, and learning the languages to be able to immerse myself more fully in the experience. Thus, I chose to pursue these passions while at Georgetown.

As a result, my memories of Georgetown are inextricably tied to its language departments. As a French Major with a Certificate in African Studies, I spent most of my days running around the maze that is the ICC, surrounded by people speaking more languages than I could count. The environment spurred me to add Spanish and to study in Paris my junior year where I enjoyed cliché but blissful experiences that included cheese-filled picnics along the Seine and visiting Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe during history of art class. As graduation approached, I still had no clue what I wanted to grow up to be, but maintained the seemingly naïve perspective that I should just keep finding ways to do what I loved.

Almost ten years later, I now see the clear lines of a career path stemming from my Georgetown language studies that I could never have predicted at graduation. My knowledge of French has led me all over the world in roles spanning the public, social, and private sectors. Immediately after graduation, I moved to Benin as a Princeton in Africa Fellow to work for one year as the Pipeline & Reports Officer for the UN World Food Programme (WFP). This was followed by additional consultancy roles with WFP and the European Union in Cote d’Ivoire and Mauritania.

After four years in West Africa, I returned to the U.S. to pursue a joint MBA and MA in International Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Lauder Institute. French remained a pillar of my experience as I pursued the French “track” within Lauder, interspersing lively debates on the value of French modern art (“but is it really art if it’s just white?”) with courses on financial statement analysis and leading effective teams. Even in the two years post-MBA when I worked in investment banking at Morgan Stanley, my French came in handy more than once in my coverage of the inherently global transportation sector. Today I work on the Ventures team of Pact, a large non-profit based in DC, where the combination of French and Spanish is invaluable in conducting due diligence on potential impact investments and better understanding local market dynamics. My career and my life are both still evolving, but the love and use of multiple languages will always be an integral part of both.

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