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Dr. Anastasia Nylund is Director of the Master of Arts in Language and Communication Program at Georgetown University, a professionally-oriented program in linguistics that prepares students to apply their training in the fields of their choice. In this role, she is responsible for all aspects of program operations, including day-to-day management, teaching, strategic planning, and student development. As an academic and professional advisor serving a diverse group of graduate students, she is responsible for creating and implementing a range of programming on professional development topics to serve students and faculty across the discipline.
Part I of the interview with Anastasia (below) provides some perspective on her day-to-day as the director of the MLC. Stay tuned for Part II (next Wed), where she gives some advice for those who would be interested in following this path and some background about her own journey.
What does a typical day look like?
My job is a faculty position with primarily admin and program development responsibilities and some teaching and research. So on a daily basis I teach, advise students, create professional development programming, perform service to the discipline through my work with the Linguistic Society of America, manage a research assistant, and I’m also responsible for the day-to-day running of the program budget, recruitment and admissions, alumni relations — many functions. Today I spent a good chunk of time reviewing webinars on professional development topics to see how I could adapt some of the wisdom out there for linguists at different levels of training. This is important since I work with both Master’s and PhD students, and these two groups have different needs.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to create opportunities for themselves in academic administration? Never, ever discount the higher education experience you gained in graduate school. Every teaching and research opportunity brings you into contact not only with students and faculty but with different offices within your institution. And if you like where you live, consider your alma mater as an employer. Although you’ve only thought of yourself as a student at X University, you’ve actually been active as a professional at this institution for years, so tap into that growth potential.
What emerging trends do you see in your field/ changes that will impact this work in future? I think we will continue to see growth in non-traditional opportunities for PhDs in the higher education sector. Higher education as a field is noticing PhDs are some of the most creative people you can hire to push a project forward, which shouldn’t be surprising. After all, what we are best at is doing a lot with limited resources, inspiring other people to do the same, and produce great outcomes. I know PhDs who are not on the traditional faculty path but who are thriving in various higher ed jobs: in schools, departments, interdisciplinary centers, research divisions and university libraries where they get to use their research and teaching skills daily.
Can you give an example of a skill or ability that you have used to show an employer how you would be suited to the tasks/duties/responsibilities of the job?
I’ve recently started doing some consulting and am finding that potential collaborators are really open to learning about what linguistics is and how a linguistics lens can help their mission. A key skill we have as linguists is organizing and making sense of unstructured data to reveal patterns. You can sell this skill very easily by becoming familiar with some current issues the organization is working on, and demonstrating how you would contribute to solving it. Always ask yourself: what’s the data the organization is using and how would I go about making sense of it?
Click here for Part II featuring more insights and resources from Anastasia!
Sectors profiled in the “Profiles in Linguistics” series: Corporate Social Responsibility, Healthcare Communications, Library Science, Knowledge Management, Naming, Non-Profit Communications, Program Evaluation, Publishing, Social Media Marketing, Tech, User Experience Research, Training and Facilitation and many more!