The Career Profiles in Linguistics section regularly highlights career paths taken by linguists. If you would like to recommend someone (including yourself) for a future profile, please contact Career Linguist.
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 provided some perspective on her day-to-day as the director of the MLC. In Part II (below), she gives some advice for those who would be interested in following this path and some background about her own journey.
How did you find your way into linguistics?
Linguistics has been with me since I was really young, and in quite a personal way. As a kid, I migrated with my family from Russia to Sweden, and growing up as an immigrant and L2 Swedish speaker, I started noticing all the consequences of having an accent, being a second-language speaker and having a foreign name, how some kids had access to home language classes and others didn’t, how some friends with less “Western” names than mine had more to prove to our well-meaning but clueless teachers, and so on and so forth. My whole upbringing was a critical sociolinguistics class! I figured there had to be a way to find out why this all happened, and to make a long story short I ended up becoming a migrant several times over and earning three degrees in linguistics, which eventually landed me here in Washington, DC, working as a non-tenure line faculty member and MA program director.
How did you get started on your path? How did you get to what you are doing now?
I graduated with my PhD in 2013. I did two rounds of academic job searching, got some campus visits and was the runner up for a few positions. I ended up accepting a one-year teaching position at a large state university, and spent a year commuting weekly, while my wife remained in the DC area. I learned a lot in this job, in particular the ins and outs of working in a very large and diverse department and also about the demands and rewards of teaching diverse student populations. I actually found the advising I did to be the most rewarding and eye-opening part of the work, and decided that if I were to stay in academia, I would look for opportunities with advising or management built in.
All these insights led me to re-evaluate my commitment to a research career, and at the same time my spouse and I decided we weren’t willing to live separately going forward. So I returned to DC, and found my current job through my network. It was a good fit since I already had experience working in program development and outreach in graduate school, and had a lot of institutional knowledge.
How do you tend to find job opportunities?
LinkedIn has a powerful job search engine, and I get a lot of interesting leads on organizations where jobs similar to mine (but outside the university) are available. The trick is to input the right keywords. If you’re interested in a particular professional field, find out the range of job titles available in the field or company. That will give you an idea of keywords to get alerts for.
Social Media – any tips?
Get on Twitter and start interacting with the linguistics community! You can get started by searching linguistics hashtags. Lauren Hall-Lew has an excellent list of linguists to follow: https://twitter.com/dialect/lists/linguists And follow me @DradisOperator!
Sources: of things like Job postings – where are the best jobs posted? Where has your organization posted?
The Linguist List has non-academic jobs and is a great resource for folks in all subfields. The Linguistic Society of America Jobs Center (http://www.linguisticsociety.org/jobs-center) is also a very useful tool. I can honestly say, though, that the best jobs are found through your networks. Find out where alumni of your department have ended up on LinkedIn and go from there.
Any last advice about: Resumes / Cover Letters / Job interviews/Negotiating /Mentoring / Informational Interviewing
For PhD students who are thinking about what’s next, I cannot recommend Career Linguist enough! J Also check out the Chronicle Vitae Wednesday Webinar archive, a great resource for professional presentation material development: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/1636-vitaewednesday-webinars
Thank you Anastasia for your generosity and insight. This has been a most edifying exploration of the professional world of Higher Ed Program Management!
Sectors 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!
if you know anyone (including yourself) whose path you think should be featured next, please reach out!