Asian Languages and Cultures

College of Letters & Science
HomeAlumniKeith B

Keith B.

Major(s) and Certificate(s): 

Japanese

Graduation Year: 
1997
Current city: 
Wheaton
Current state/province/country (if outside US): 
IL
What have you done since graduating from UW-Madison?: 

Upon graduation, I took a position as Sales & Procurement Coordinator with a Japanese automotive parts manufacturing company in Indiana. I worked for Japanese manufacturing firms in sales and marketing roles for nine years before founding a marketing agency in 2005.

Language(s): 
What motivated you to study this/these languages?: 

I was a youth exchange student in Japan in high school, and wanted to continue my education and language proficiency.

How have these languages enriched your life?: 

From a career perspective, Japanese has opened a number of doors for me. It helped me get my first job, advance to new and exciting positions, and eventually, helped me to land new business when I founded my own company.

What do you remember about your UW language classes? How were they different from other classes you took?: 

I tested out of first year Japanese thanks to my time in Japan in high school, but second year Japanese was intense! We had eight classes each week, and I'll never forget the pressure of cramming for kanji tests.

How valuable were your out-of-classroom experiences?: 

Japanese has opened doors for me - It helped me get my first job, advance to new and exciting positions, and helped me land new business when I founded my own company.

How have you maintained or improved your language(s) since graduation?: 

For nine years, I worked at Japanese companies in the US that supported other Japanese transplant companies. I had the opportunity to use my Japanese on a daily basis, both internally with my Japanese colleagues and externally at Japanese customers. My business and technical Japanese greatly improved during those years.

What advice do you have for current language students?: 

Fluency in a language will open doors, but your future employers will want to see competency in other areas as well. If you're considering going in to business or another professional field, take classes and develop interests into other subjects outside of your language studies.

What is your favorite word or phrase in a language you know?: 
Jinba ittai, which means "horse and rider as one". I'm a car guy, and Mazda resurrected this phrase for the Miata to describe the driver's connection with the car.