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Brooke Samples, Director of International Programs for NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs, took part in a roundtable discussion about careers and foreign language (Credit: Yale University Center for Language Study)

Yale University’s Center for Language Study recently welcomed Brooke Samples, Director of International Programs for NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs, to speak on international collaboration and how language skills come into play in NNSA missions.

The roundtable’s goal was to shed light on a practical benefit of mastering a language: career opportunities. Being able to travel abroad and speak with the locals or reading a masterpiece of literature in its mother tongue are gratifying experiences, but developing a marketable skill that will help land a job is always a shrewd move. 

“The work that we accomplish is heavily informed by partnerships with our foreign allies,” Samples said, “Often times, proficiency in the foreign language of the partner nations you are working with can be invaluable.”

She cited NNSA’s various national security missions as well as its efforts in nuclear research, science, technology and engineering as being augmented by international collaboration. 

A broad contingent of personnel is stationed abroad in non-English speaking countries, representing the Department of Energy and its global interests. Samples noted the important relationships NNSA has with various international organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency

Knowledge of a foreign language can be a major boon to NNSA employees seeking to advance their knowledge and maintain awareness of key policy and research activities abroad, Samples said.

“Fluency allows staff to stay current on foreign nations’ perspectives regarding nuclear deterrence and national security through reading online articles, debates and technical scientific publications which may not be available in English,” she said. 

Some topics of interest to NNSA are so highly specialized and technical, Samples said, that fluency alone isn’t enough: experience and understanding of the technical subject matter are required to properly interpret what you are reading.