Gregory Armstrong MacDonald

Year of Graduation: 2005

Where are you working?   Briefly what does your job entail?

I am a librarian at Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown, Warrenton, and Luray, Virginia. My primary duties are performing reference assistance and bibliographic instruction. These duties take me to all three of LFCC’s locations to instruct students, faculty, and staff in how to use the resources, which the library provides. In addition to the normal reference and instruction duties, I teach a student development class and am the administrator for the college’s iTunes U instance.

What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most? Find the most challenging?

I most enjoy the parts of my job that let me interact with students, faculty, staff, and community patrons. Seeing the immediate effects of connecting people to the information that they are looking for is a great experience. The interaction with patrons is fulfilling, but also the most challenging part of my job. Because I am passionate about teaching people how to find and use information, it is a challenge to get people interested in the process when all they want is the answer.

How has your major or minor in German helped you after graduation? How are you using the language, communication, or the intercultural communication skills you learned in the program?

My time in IWU’s German program has helped me immensely in my current position. Being a community college, LFCC has students from all age groups, socioeconomic groups, cultural backgrounds, and even other countries. There are several students from German speaking countries who have come in with very poor English language skills, so my knowledge of the German language and culture has enabled me to better serve these students. The intercultural communications skills, which I learned in IWU’s German program, have helped me serve all of the various groups that LFCC serves, not just our German students, by giving me a broader understanding of how to work with the people from different cultural backgrounds.

Has your job given you any insight as to what you would like to pursue as a career?

My current job has taught me that I would very much like to work in the information world, be it in libraries, technology companies, or any other information heavy industry one can think of. I have also learned that as fascinating as the management and use of information is, it is the interaction with people from around the country and around the world that makes working with information so fulfilling.

What advice would you give to any German majors or minors searching for a job?

I have two pieces of advice for German majors or minors searching for a job. First, don’t let your language skills slip away. Keep in practice. If that practice is with friends who speak German, great! If the practice comes in the form of an email contact from the other side of the world, great! Whatever form it takes, keep your skills up. You never know when someone who needs your abilities will walk into your life.

Second, no matter what career path you are on or job you are applying for, highlight the fact that you have foreign language skills. It cannot hurt for potential employers to know that you have the skills and the cross-cultural understanding that comes with those skills. It does not even have to be a job that you are applying for. I recently found out that one of the main reasons that I was accepted into the one of the top library schools in the country was my highlighting of my foreign language skills. Be proud that you speak German and let the world know it!