The Linguist

The Linguist 58,6 - Dec/Jan2020

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Page 27 of 35 OPINION & COMMENT 28 The Linguist Vol/58 No/6 2019 How to shape your career profile to meet market needs ANNA OSTROVSKY Sitting at the intersection of humanities and science, linguists are perfectly positioned for a modern corporate market that needs creative problem solvers. However, with the exception of a few EdTech and computational linguistic roles, 'linguist' is not a corporate job title. The question 'How can I use my language skills?' can cause linguists to default to generic roles (translator, teacher etc). On the other hand, 'How can I put my language skills in service to solve business problems?' helps us to build our profiles and identify business opportunities beyond speaking, writing and translating. My current role as digital product manager for a bilingual educational consultancy and boutique tutoring agency is the result of 20+ years of cultural, linguistic, educational and professional experience: from my childhood in St Petersburg and teenage years at a Bavarian boarding school, all the way to my MA in French and career in marketing and language teaching in Germany, France and the UK. The firm was looking for a marketing-savvy professional with a knowledge of international education systems, as well as solid digital and writing skills. This job is profile-based rather than skills-based: your profile comprises skills, education, cultural fit, strengths and expertise/ industry knowledge. It enables you to position yourself as a knowledgeable resource that can add value – a unique fit for a certain business. At its basic level, your portfolio is a showreel of the results you have produced throughout your career. Whether digital or material, portfolio items display your expertise. Counting as intellectual property, they might take the form of a product launched, a project completed, a lesson plan outlined, a workshop delivered or an article written for a publication. Focus on the essence of what you want to showcase: an audio file uploaded to SoundCloud and linked to your Proz profile will be much better evidence of your public speaking or interpreting skills than a colourful pdf. Each portfolio item will be connected to a particular aspect of your trajectory. My current portfolio items can be categorised into 'digital' and 'education', with languages as the glue that binds them. When applying for my teaching position in London, my portfolio item was a 'scrapbook' of lesson plans, content and exercises gathered over several months. This not only made something as abstract as a language lesson tangible to interviewers, but was also engaging and displayed my thought process, analytical skills and empathy – in short, the personality beyond my skills. To stay relevant in an ever-changing business landscape it is important to be flexible. Not every portfolio item will be relevant to every employer or client, so it is important to understand the type of business and the results they are looking to achieve, and to mix and match items accordingly. When I was teaching, I consulted a startup about their language learning app, and showing it on my iPhone during interview helped me get my current position, as it showed my understanding of digital products. The other main portfolio item for this role comprised two articles I had written for the Cambridge University Press ELT blog, since targeted, customer-focused writing is a crucial part of any marketing-related position. The ability to identify and fulfil business needs through your profile lies at the heart of an entrepreneurial approach to your career as a linguist. Rather than considering what to do with your language skills, carve out a small niche by seeking projects that are connected to the various core aspects of your profile and allow you to solve business problems. Beyond translation Anna Ostrovsky MCIL CL is a digital product manager fluent in German, Russian, French and English. TL © SHUTTERSTOCK

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