French Major Giulia Szanyi Following her Passion for French and Journalism 

Submitted by Michael Rich on
Giulia Szanyi

UW Senior Giulia Szanyi is following her passion for French while at the same time getting experience in the business world with two of Washington’s most dynamic companies.

Giulia, a  French and Communications: Journalism double major, grew up in Richland, WA and is graduating this June. This past winter, Giulia participated in the Amazon Mentors Program and interned for Alaska Airlines Magazine. The Amazon Mentors Program pairs UW undergraduates with an Amazon employee to learn about the professional world and receive mentoring from a leader in the business world. Giulia along with a few other fellow UW students met weekly with their mentor, a Creative Director at Amazon.

During these meetings Giulia learned about “success in the corporate world, what life as a working professional is like, and the importance of following one's passion.” She was able to hear from various people about the diversity of careers available and the various routes people took to work there. One Amazon employee, a designer and past UW graduate discussed her career path with the students. She advised the mentees about “the importance of passion projects and of voicing your ideas to turn them into reality.”

“The program gave me the confidence to start applying to post-grad jobs and gave me insight into the reality of post-college life” Giulia says. Her mentor motivated her to apply to all kinds of different jobs and was “instrumental in showing her new ways to stand out amongst other applicants.”

In addition to her participation in the program, Giulia kept busy as an editorial intern for the Alaska Airlines Magazine. She worked part-time fact-checking stories and “writing short pieces about things to do in the various cities Alaska services.” 

Being a French major has made Giulia “a better communicator, both in French and English” and positively impacted her experience with Amazon. Taking French courses and interacting with her peers has enhanced not just her language skills but her interpersonal skills and confidence as she constantly had to engage with “new people and push past discomfort and uncertainty.” In addition, studying abroad in Paris for a month boosted her confidence as she was “constantly challenged by a new environment, new people, and new culture.”

Studying French has also taught Giulia to follow her passions and the importance of doing something just for the love of doing it. “French is a beautiful language” she says, “French grammar can convey meaning that English is incapable of.” Giulia credits Associate Professor Rich Watts’ Translation Theory & Practice course as “easily one of the best classes, if not the best, I had at the UW throughout my four years here.”

Giulia was particularly impacted by the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, an 18th century Genevan Philosopher. She found particular resonance with a passage from his landmark treatise The Social Contract, "L'homme est né libre et partout il est dans les fers” which translates to “man is born free but everywhere he is in chains.” Giulia thinks there are several meanings to this phrase but one of them is that “people today are so set on a straight life path of just going to college and getting a societally-approved degree and heading directly into some job that they are chained to for the rest of their lives that they neglect to stop and see where their curiosity takes them.”

Giulia’s curiosity led her to the French major and for that she is “so thankful for the wonderful people” she learned from such as Hedwige Meyer, Hélène Villavella-Collins, as well as her peers “who all stoked my love for French and made going to class every day exciting.” 

Giulia says she is evaluating her post-graduation plans; and she is certain that with her two majors, her language skills, and the confidence she has gained, she is well prepared.