Linguists’ HH in Washington DC

Career Linguists in DC:  Photo of James Hoban's Irish Restaurant & Bar - Washington, DC, United States

In a spirit of generosity, curiosity, and with the understanding that
our networks are our greatest professional assets, come on out to mix and mingle with other DC area Career Linguists next Tuesday evening Jan 22nd at James Hoban’s pub at 1 Dupont Circle from 5-7pm

There will be a section cordoned off for us in the front bar, just ask for the Career Linguist group!!!

Whether you’re currently using your linguistics training in an applied or professional setting, want to learn more about how you might do just that, or want to support your friends who do – come on out and connect with local professionally-oriented linguists!



Career Activities at the LSA meetings in NYC this week

Linguistic Society of AmericaCalling attention to just two of the wonderful events taking place at the Linguistics Society of America meeting!!  For more information, check out the LSA Facebook page and Twitter feed, the Annual Meeting page, the online schedule and .pdf of the Annual Meeting Handbook.

Friday January 4, 3:30-5 pm in Liberty 3
“Linguists in the Workplace”
     Samantha Beaver (Memra Language Services)
     Ruth Brillman (Spotify)
     Deborah Walker (Acrolinx)
     Jessica White-Sustaita (HomeAway)
This panel features linguists from an array of professions beyond the professoriate (ie., “Career Linguists”), as well as representatives from the companies who hire them. Our career linguists will tell all about their journeys from PhD to the workplace, what motivated them to make the shift to the private sector, and the advantages (and sometimes disadvantages) of working outside of academia. To give a fuller picture of what life is like for career linguists, we will also hear from those who hire linguists to better understand what make a linguist a great candidate for numerous professional roles. Panelists hail from a variety of professional sectors, including language engineering, user experience research, nonprofit/program development, and diversity technology, to name a few. An audience Q&A will follow our panel discussion. Hosted by the LSA special interest group Linguists Beyond Academia, “Linguists in the Workplace” is for anyone interested in better understanding the array of options open to linguists as they navigate their careers post-PhD.


Linguistics Beyond Academia Career Mixer
When: Saturday, January 5, 3:30 – 5:00 PM
Where: Liberty 3

The Linguistics Career Mixer is an annual event that brings linguists who have found professional expression of their skills and training in a variety of fields — from research and consulting to writing and education — together with people who are currently trying to learn about their next steps professionally. The idea is to create a context for having exploratory conversations about career paths. Linguists who have found employment in a range of contexts will be on hand to talk about their work as researchers,consultants, writers, editors, trainers, managers, and language and communication specialists in government, education, business and non-profit sectors (among others). Representatives from 20+ organizations will be in attendance.  Sponsored by the LSA’s Linguistics Beyond Academia Special Interest Group (SIG).


Three women at the foundation of improv

One of my intentions for 2019 is to apply story finding to shine a light on the often invisible work done by women, in this case the origins of improvisational theater.

Viola Spolin book

I wrote this post to call attention to the foundational work done by Viola Spolin as a way to announce my latest workshop, but more on that soon – this story begins with Viola Spolin.  Her son, Paul Sills, is widely celebrated as the founder of improv because in 1955 he created the Compass Theater, and then later Second City in Chicago – but Spolin was responsible for many of the improv games and the foundational philosophies and practices that shape improvisational theater as we know it (as reflected in her 1963 book Improvisation for the Theater).

However, in the process of finding Viola Spolin’s story, I actually found the story of three women: Viola Spolin, her mentor Neva Boyd, both of whom were in fact supported by Jane Addams, since Viola Spolin first worked with Neva Boyd at Hull House, one of the settlement houses founded by Jane Addams.

So, here’s their story.

Hull House was the first social settlement house in Chicago, and it served as a place where immigrants would gather to learn, to eat, to debate, and to acquire the tools necessary to put down roots in their new country. Later, in the 1920’s, when the demographics of the neighborhood changed, in addition to the Italian, Irish, German, Greek, Bohemian, and Russian and Polish Jewish immigrants, participants in the clubs, activities, and programming of Hull House included more African Americans and immigrants from Mexico. At Hull House, as part of the progressive education movement, Neva Boyd focused on non-competitive play as a democratizing force. An early theorist of the educational and social benefits of play, her book Handbook for Recreational Games documents many of the exercises she developed as part of the work she did, which included training social workers in group work.

For Boyd, games not only helped children learn cognitive like language and communication skills, but also critical social and emotional skills like cooperation: “Play involves social values, as does no other behavior. The spirit of play develops social adaptability, ethics, mental and emotional control, and imagination.” (

Viola Spolin in turn, applied these societal benefits of play to cultivating her own practice of play as a teaching system, first for the WPA Recreational Project in Chicago, working with children and recent immigrants in low-income neighborhoods and ultimately bringing the benefit of theatrical play to drama therapy programs, mental health facilities and with prisoners, as well as community groups seeking creative engagement in the midst of the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement such as the North Side Cooperative Ministry, Parents School, and Women for Peace.

Such it is that in this playful spirit, in the aim of reaching across divisions of culture and language, and as Spolin put it: as part of “the necessity to help people become more creative as a real justification for living,” my collaborator Criscillia Benford and I will be  offering our first creative expression of 2019: Embracing the Awkward – Finding Fun on First Dates and More on January 5th right here in Oakland, CA. And there are still spots left!!

This play-filled workshop brings together my decades of experience in improv, Criscillia’s meditation and neuroscience pratice, and both of our research expertise in social interaction. It has been designed to give you the time and space to practice having conversations with new people. We’ll use improv activities, infused with research-based insights into human communication, to help you connect to the moment –– no matter how awkward! Expect a mix of games, activities, and scenes to help you get more comfortable being yourself while connecting with others. No improv or performance experience required. Just bring a willingness to have fun, be curious, and try try again. You don’t even need to be single!

Together we will co-create and maintain a space where curiosity, lightheartedness, and listening are celebrated. You will leave with a better understanding of how navigating conversations with agreement and acknowledgement can lead to more more fulfilling connections.

Hope to see you there! Sign up here:

Job postings

job posting: Elevate (San Francisco)

An exciting job opportunity in content development at an app start-up in San Francisco and the person tasked with hiring is an historical linguist! In her words: “we’d love great (linguist) applicants!”

Location: San Francisco, CA

Department: Content Development

Type: Full Time

Min. Experience: Entry Level

Elevate is a game-based educational app that has more than 20 million downloads and was the recipient of Apple’s App of the Year award. We’re now tackling a new mindfulness app, and our Content Team is in need of a widely capable individual to assist in growing and organizing our content library for both products.



  • Write, edit, fact check, and review content
  • Transcribe audio recordings
  • Summarize scholarly research in a user-friendly way
  • Create, organize, and review spreadsheets containing content and data
  • Develop surveys to solicit user feedback, and then review results and compile action items for product improvement
  • Collaborate with the Design Team to ensure cross-departmental accuracy
  • Assist with content-related customer support and marketing needs



  • BA in a writing/communications-heavy field (e.g., English, linguistics, communications, journalism)
  • 1–2 years of experience in writing and editing
  • Highly organized and detail-oriented
  • Proactive and independent
  • Proven ability to prioritize tasks and work under deadlines
  • Experience with writing, copyediting, and reviewing content
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills



  • Experience with copywriting
  • Interest or experience in meditation and mindfulness
  • Knowledge and familiarity with Excel and/or Google Sheets
  • Knowledge and familiarity with Dropbox



  • Delicious healthy chef-cooked meals
  • Equity
  • Medical, Dental, and Vision insurance
  • 401k plan

Top pages and posts from 2018

It’s that time of year again!! With 2018 drawing to a close, as is our tradition here at Career Linguist, we are taking some time to “look back to look forward,” making some time and space to reflect on this past year and think about what should come next. Without further ado, here are the five most viewed pages and posts in 2018!!

Parachute 2018

And here they are:

#5  My book review of the 2018 edition of What Color is

Your Parachute

I read this book annually and not only does it keep getting better and better, but I appreciate and get new things out of the read every time. Can’t wait for 2019!!

#4 The dream job vs. what would you do if you could do anything? a post exploring how to listen interpretively to things that you have always talked about doing, or have been thinking about doing, or have been dreaming about doing, or are told by others that you should be doing.

#3  the Career Paths where we hear about all the exciting things that linguists are out there doing with their degrees. Sectors profiled in the “Profiles in Linguistics” series: Corporate Social Responsibility, Healthcare Communications, Library Science, Knowledge ManagementNaming, Non-Profit Communications, Program Evaluation, Publishing, Social Media Marketing,Tech, User Experience Research, Training and Facilitation and many more!

If you would like to recommend someone (including yourself) for a future profile, please contact Career Linguist.

#2 My explainer animation, designed by my super talented designer Segun Adesina. This distills down what I do and why (my process and approach) in just three minutes – so pleased to see that thousands of you have looked at it – please be in touch with questions and feedback!

…….and the top page/post from 2018 <drumroll please!!!>

#1 For the third year running – 50 organizations  is the most viewed page!!! This resource features organizations who have advertised for and/or have hired linguists and language/communication experts. How can we make best use of this resource, continuing to make it as valuable as it can possibly be for you? How are you using the information contained therein?  Have you found a job using this list as a resource?  Would love to hear your story! What other organizations belong on this list?

What else was new this year:

2018 saw the launch of the Mighty Network a community for career linguists to encourage and learn from one another; to support career development; and to stay inspired about the field of study that connects us!  We’re about supporting and creating opportunities to bring linguistics to work.

On the platform, mainly you will find LOTS OF ACTIVITIES: weekly Working sessions (where we come together to get stuff done!!!), biweekly Check-ins (making space for connection, discovery, and opportunity), and Themed discussions including book clubs, guest speakers, workshops, and other interactive sessions. 2019 will see more focused attention on building out the discussions and resource-sharing components of the site.

Also, Bringing Linguistics to Work is now available as an audiobook!  Get your copy here:

Get it for FREE on Audible:


Job postings

jobs: Learning for Action (Bay Area)

Learning for Action, a strategy, evaluation, and research firm in San Francisco, CA is currently conducting a search for two positions: Senior Research Associate and Associate Consultant/Consultant. This is a rare opportunity to work with and learn from a high-performing group of people committed to social justice. The ideal candidates will contribute to the diversity of LFA, thrive on enhancing the effectiveness of social justice organizations, and support the advancement of our rising consulting firm.

Those interested in applying should submit their application via the online forms linked below. In the cover letter field, please indicate how you learned about this position. We will only review applications submitted through this online form. We apologize that we are unable to field emails or calls about this opportunity during the application process. The deadline to apply is 11:59 pm on December 31, 2018.


6th annual careers mixer at LSA in NYC in Jan


For the 6th consecutive year, there will be a number of events broadening connectionsat the Linguistic Society of America annual meeting (being held in New York City from Jan 3- 7, 2019) focusing on careers (including a panel, a Mixer, mentoring office hours and more), hosted by the Linguistics Beyond Academia Special Interest Group (LBA SIG).

Check out the meeting schedule here

Want to get an idea of what to expect? Read the write-up from last year’s Mixer.