Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies

College of Letters & Science
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Careers & Skill Development

What can I do with a CANES major or certificate?

In answer to this nerve-wracking question, CANES majors are often told “anything.” In fact, our coursework builds the critical thinking and communication skills needed to succeed in careers ranging from politics and education to business and law. But “anything” is a hard place to start a career search.

Think about what you’re learning in the classroom as well as what you’re doing each day to be a successful student; the skills you’re developing are equally important in the workplace:

  • critical reading, reflection, & analysis
  • proper research design & methodology
  • expanded world view & exposure to new ideas/ways of thinking
  • effective teamwork to advance a common project/purpose
  • effective time-management & self-motivation to complete projects independently
  • demonstrated writing proficiency in short & long essay format
  • discussion & debate strategies
  • broader knowledge of career & graduate-study options

One of the more significant skills CANES majors are developing is language acquisition. Your study of Greek, Latin or Biblical Hebrew sets you apart and demonstrates your willingness to explore and expand your understanding of history and culture. Not to mention, the study of ancient languages shows discipline and perseverance, since they are such difficult languages to learn.

Overall, you’ll have a wide variety of skills and talents to start you on the path to a rewarding career!

See what some of our alumni are doing

How has language study helped students with their career journey?

Yusi L., current graduate student at Bryn Mawr

Michele C., "My first job in publishing was as a research assistant working on a translation of a book whose sources were primarily in post-Renaissance Greek and Latin, as well as French and Italian. I continue to use my knowledge to assist my editors in understanding Latin titles and quotations in manuscripts, as well as assisting curators in translating Latin and Greek that appear in rare prints, for example." 

Benjamin S., "In my current IT career, my undergraduate study of human languages and translation has provided a path into programming languages that are a way of translating human language into machine language."

William M., "[T]here's never a time when being more literate hurts, and without a doubt Latin and Greek make the more obscure corners of English easier to comprehend. For example, I am not a lawyer or accountant, but I have had to dabble in some of those areas for some of my projects since graduating..."


How do I start exploring my interest areas and connecting them to careers?

There are many ways to get started both on campus and off. Below, you'll find broad interest areas that link to resources to assist you in your exploration.

Health Care

If you’re interested in the health care field, you should visit the Center for Pre-Health Advising. It’s a great resource that provides information about the variety of health careers available and valuable information about the academic path you may want to take in pursuit of these options.

Law School

Thinking of law school? Luckily, you can find plenty of information and assistance at the Center of Pre-Law Advising. Learn what law schools are looking for, how to pick out schools that are right for you, when to apply, tips for taking the LSAT, and much more. You should also explore the Pre-Law Scholars Program.

Meet Phoebe Kasdin        

Graduate School

If you have an interest in graduate school but haven’t decided on a specific focus, you may want to begin with your CANES faculty or a faculty member practicing the discipline you’re most interested in. Think about the questions you have before you meet and be prepared:

Learn about CANES graduate programs. Learn about UW-Madison graduate school

Meet Esther Ramer        Meet Sarah Rous         Meet Andrea Samz-Pustol


While you may not have considered teaching until later in your undergraduate career, it’s not too late! There are a number of ways to become certified to teach and many private schools do not require teaching certification.

Learn about the School of Education’s World Language Education Program

Learn about high school teaching certification through the School of Education

Learn about alternatives to certification

Meet Nate Kolpin       Meet Abby Lease

Museum Work

Learn how your interest in Classics can translate to work in a museum or historical society.  The Museums Association provides an extensive look at getting started as a volunteer and finding internships.  There's also an extensive job list.


There are so many possibilities that fall under “government work” that it’s impossible to provide a comprehensive overview of what’s available to you. You can consider anything from serving in Congress to city management, from public policy work to foreign service. The best way to get experience in these areas is to conduct informational interviews, intern or volunteer for offices/organizations that interest you, and speak to the government work specialist at SuccessWorks, Marie Koko. Make sure to SCROLL DOWN for more helpful information!

You should also consider the Wisconsin in Washington DC internship program:

Another great resource for job and internship opportunities across the country is found here.

International Work

Finding employment abroad can also be achieved numerous ways.  Again, the government path might be one of the most obvious but you can also consider international non-profits, non-governmental organizations (NGOs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch), corporations with overseas locations, or trade associations. 

Learn about the International Internship ProgramWisconsin in Washington DCStudy Abroad OfficePeace Corps, Language Institute, Global Health Institute.


If you’ve always pictured yourself helping others but are too queasy for medicine and not great at organic chemistry, consider public service to others in the form of non-profit employment.  There are many ways to be of service through food banks, literacy networks, shelters, community programming, immigration centers – if you have an interest area, there is most likely more than one non-profit to choose from.

The best place to start is the Morgridge Center for Public Service

For more ideas of locations around Madison, check out Community Shares.  

Meet Jennifer Henschel


One of the most significant skills you can hone while in college is the ability to write and speak professionally, purposefully, and with precision.  A career in this field can be found through work in advertising, marketing, freelance reporting, media relations, publicity, website development, and much more.

Reach out to the Media, Information, and Communication Advisor, Pam Garcia-Rivera and have a look at the types of careers/internships available

Consider writing or working for the Badger Herald or Daily Cardinal and don't forget about the various television and radio stations, newspapers, and magazines around Madison.

Business/Tech Industry

Much like government work, the business world offers a wide variety of opportunities for liberal arts majors.  You can find work in companies large and small doing anything from sales of insurance (State Farm) or athletic apparel (Nike) to marketing for major corporations (Pepsi) or clothing stores (Kohl’s).  Many of these opportunities depend on internship work and general work experience.  If you’ve worked retail or customer services jobs, you have a clear idea of what the general public needs or wants; these experiences provide a foundation for a career if you let them.  The search for this kind of work can be a little more time-consuming, but there are opportunities in Madison and just about every other major city you can think of.

Meet Will Marx

For more resources, visit SuccessWorks and Handshake

Are there internships opportunities I should know about?

Yes!  Internships are a great way to build your résumé.  You gain valuable work experience, develop appropriate skills in your area of interest, build relationships with mentors and others who have the potential to assist you when you begin a serious job-search later on, and explore career paths to see if they truly fit your skills and abilities.

Below is a list of websites that offer internship options for a number of CANES related disciplines in a wide variety of locations.

Internships at the Smithsonian

Recommendations from Museums Association

Local Internship Options:

Wisconsin Veterans Museum

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

     Be a Docent

Local Volunteer Options:

Chazen Museum of Art 

    Be a Docent

Wisconsin Historical Museum

Wisconsin Historical Society

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

Wisconsin Veterans Museum

Learn how you can get credit for your internship by taking Inter L&S 260.  

Archaeological Digs

There are many summer opportunities to work on digs.  Have a look at the Archaeological Institute of America's Database.

What should I know about writing a résumé or cover letter?

If you remember nothing else, remember that a résumé is very personal!  There is no "right" way to create one.  The format can depend on your experiences, the type of job or internship you're applying for, and your personal preferences for layout.  That said, there are a number of important tips (active verbs, one page) to keep in mind.  Make sure to review the following information and don't hesitate to come in for help!

Résumé tips

Résumé & Cover Letter tips Part 2

A cover letter is simply a form of introduction.  You're introducing yourself to the organization or company, explaining why you're a good fit for the position and what you bring to the job that makes you the best candidate.  

Cover letter example 1example 2example 3

Cover letter check list


How can I get involved on campus and develop leadership skills?

Students have many opportunities for getting involved across campus.  Make sure you explore all the organizations, activities, and events available.  Below you'll find a basic list of options that appeal to many CANES majors, but don't hesitate to ask your peers what they're involved in, too!

Student Organizations/Leadership 

Adventure Learning Programs

Associated Students of Madison

Building Relationships in Diverse Global Environments (BRIDGE)

Center for Leadership and Involvement

Classics Society

Global Connections Committee

IMPACT National Conference

LeaderShape Institute

Leadership Certificate

Legal Studies Association

Mock Trial

Model UN

Morgridge Center for Public Service

National Conference for College Women Student Leaders


Willis L. Jones Leadership Center