We like to keep track of our majors and minors after they graduate and recently we caught up with Kenny Hensley, back from 3 years in Russia working as a teacher and translator.
Major: Linguistics, Russian
Minor: Political Science
What first drove you to pursue a degree involving Slavic and Russian studies?
I’ve always loved languages and linguistics, so it was never a question that this is what I’d study in college. I was first drawn to Russian in particular when I got a “teach yourself” CD from the library in middle school. I was immediately hooked and have stuck with it ever since.
What did you intend to do when you graduated?
I was initially planning to go into government work after graduating, mostly because of my internship experience in DC. But as graduation was approaching, it became clear to me that I wasn’t quite “finished” with Russia despite having spent several summers there, so I instead decided to move to Russia to perfect my language skills.
What job did you get when you graduated? Tell us a little about the job, what it entailed, how you applied and got the job etc.
Immediately after graduating from OSU in 2012, I did Middlebury’s graduate-level summer Russian program. It was truly a remarkable experience, and I definitely plan to do it again if I ever have a free summer. I then went on to teach English in Vladimir, Russia, at a great little English school called the American Home. Though Vladimir is a beautiful city, I was ready for a little more hustle and bustle – as well as for a job that allowed me to utilize my Russian skills more – which is why I decided to move to Moscow to see what it had to offer. In Moscow, I really was in the right place at the right time and was hired as a Russian translator for the business and finance wing of Russia’s top independent news agency, Interfax, where I worked for two years. It was definitely the single most demanding position I’ve ever had, but I can honestly say that, aside from my incredible experience as a Russian major at OSU, my time at Interfax was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Not only did it take my Russian – and English – skills to a completely new level, but it gave me a deeper understanding of Russian business, politics, and culture that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. It also taught me enough about finance to get hired at my current position, which I’ll mention later.
What interests/activities are you passionate about? Were you able to merge them with your job responsibilities?
To be honest, my personal interests and hobbies are completely separate from my professional life. I love to play piano and have played since I was a child. If you would have asked me between the ages of 6 and 14 what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have undoubtedly said a concert pianist. But my love for languages triumphed over my love for music. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing, I can’t say. I also love to read when I have the time. Favorite author: Nabokov, favorite book: the Goldfinch, and favorite composer: Rachmaninoff (of course).
What would you go back in time and tell yourself on your graduating day?
If I could go back in time and talk to my freshly graduated self, I would have said that hard work never goes unnoticed. You will never regret giving 200% in anything you do.
What are you doing now?
Interestingly enough, I don’t use Russian at my current job whatsoever (yet). I now work as a dividend withholding tax specialist at GlobeTax in New York City (a mouthful, I know…), and I work on the Japan team. I’ll eventually move on to work with other Russian-speaking markets when things pick up there, as I was in fact hired because of my Russian skills. But all in all, I’m just enjoying life back in the United States after my three-year stint in Russia.
What advice do you have to give graduating seniors about finding a job and pursuing their passion?
My advice to graduating seniors is (1) always work harder than you thought you could, (2) always aim higher than you think possible, and (3) never be afraid of failure.