The Linguist and The Future of Work

Alicia Martinez Miranda – Bio

Alicia Martinez photo

I began formal linguistic training at Georgetown and obtained a M.S. in Sociolinguistics.  During my time at Georgetown, I worked as a graduate researcher on a DARPA grant initiative to improve cross cultural communication in military settings.  From there, I worked in New York in healthcare advertising on ethnographic, dialogue, and computational linguistic studies for various pharma clients and disease states.  I currently reside in Denver, Colorado and work as a higher ed researcher for a professional development company.  I love to travel, try new food, and spend time with my husband and parrot.  I’m also trying to lean how to bake, but linguistics seems to be the area that I’m more of a natural in.

As a kid I loved to watch foreign moves because I could hear other languages and get a glimpse into a world different from my own.  In elementary school, it felt like I instinctively knew the importance of regaining the heritage language that was lost to my parents a generation earlier, and consequently lost to me.  I worked hard at it and now feel like Spanish is one of the most intimate parts of who I am.  From this experience, I learned how language represents the heart of the people who speak them.  Words, language, and communication just seemed to make sense to me – I know I’ve been a linguist from the very beginning.

I choose an undergrad college where I would have the chance to study languages intensively and travel abroad frequently.  From that experience, I gained an understanding of learning languages and language families.  From there, I worked for two years as a braillist to support visually impaired children.  From that experience, I gained an understanding of how to bend the literal world and how touch, smell, and hearing function as non-verbal language.

It was around this time that I decided to pursue formal linguistic training.  By getting a M.S. in Sociolinguistics, I gained an understanding of the systematic components of language and communication and research skills.  This also opened the door to my first legitimate linguistic research gig, working on a DARPA funded grand with a team of linguists at Georgetown University to improve cross cultural communication training in the military.  From that experience, I gained strong ethnographic fieldwork experience and the understanding of the importance of translating linguistic theory to real world settings.

I then moved to NYC and began working as part of a linguistic research group that was embedded in a top healthcare advertising agency.  I think this was the first experience that I truly understood that linguistic training could be applied to anything.  By using the research skills and systematic understanding of language that I had gained from my training, I was able to help pharma clients understand their market, consumers, and the nuances of various disease states.

Most recently, my journey has brought me back home to Denver.  I was curious what this next phase in my career would bring and was pleasantly surprised when I landed a job researching academic affair issues in higher education to provide professional development programming angles.  While I’m only a few months in, I’ve learned that the versatility that being a linguist affords me has never seemed more relevant given the world we live in.  By being immersed in higher education trends, I know that the reality of our world and the future of work is rapidly changing.  The global, technological world we live in is creating an environment where the purpose of higher education will not necessarily be to teach specific knowledge sets or train for specific careers.  Rather, it will be to create specific types of individuals.  With new job fields being created and others inevitably being lost due to things such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, and humanless technology, a successful, competitive individual will be one who is versatile, a critical thinker, solves problems, understands data, can combine disciplines, can think outside of the box, and is comfortable with change.  While the prospect of such a different type of workforce can be both exciting and daunting, in my mind, this type of individual can easily be a linguist!

So far in my linguistic journey, I’ve been able to apply my passion and what I have learned as a linguist to government and military, advertising and healthcare, and professional development and higher education settings.  This journey is far from over, but I’m loving all the interesting twists and turns.

Please feel free to reach out to or message me on LinkedIn if you’d like to chat about linguistics and your career!

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