Audio and Video, Career Exploration, Storytelling

Kathryn Ticknor at the Campfire

A wonderful conversation about health research, from the most engaging and inspirational Kathryn Ticknor!

Check out her MEDx talk here:

and on Twitter @ticktalkrock

Catch up on the stories that you have missed by going to the stories around the campfire page here on Career Linguist.
Linguists’ skills and training can be brought to the challenges of our time – listen to hear what pressing questions these folks address in their work and where they see more opportunities for linguists in future. If you would like to recommend someone for the series (including yourself), contact Career Linguist.


Career Education, Career Exploration, Career Paths for linguists

Why Tutoring is a good job for linguists – Part II


This post is written by guest blogger Patrick Goodridge a linguist, language teacher, and writer based in Philadelphia, PA. Read more about Patrick below or on the Career Linguist guest bloggers page where you can also learn about being a guest blogger for Career Linguist yourself!!

To read Part I of this post featuring ideas 1-3, click here.

Why Tutoring is a Great Occupation for Linguists (Part 2). 

  1. Tutoring builds social skills and critical self-promotion skills.

One of the concerns of graduate students in all fields, linguistics included, is that years of diligent work within a tight-knit group of scholars will cause one’s social life to suffer. It’s not the case that students at this stage won’t be able to socialize at all, per se, but their ability to relate to others outside of their field has the potential to become strained. Tutoring is the perfect antidote to this isolation, since it allows you to extend the reach of your interactions beyond your field and, often, beyond academia in general.

I have met so many interesting and inspiring people through tutoring: a Princeton grad and MD/PhD student in Penn’s Perelman School; a Chinese highschooler with a passion for the Classics studying abroad on his own in Philadelphia; a young aspiring comedian enamored with German culture. The remarkable backgrounds are not limited to the tutees themselves; parents of students I tutor for standardized tests are often interesting, passionate, and well-accomplished professionals in their own right. They also value success enough to invest in the future of their children, tutoring being a chief way to do so.

One of the families I worked with the longest was that of a lawyer with his own practice and a doctor-turned-hospital administrator. They were determined to give their kids the best opportunities possible by having me work with them on SAT/ACT writing for three hours every Sunday. Another was an artist couple with beautiful, life-like classical-style paintings adorning their den right as I entered the house. It was no surprise that, considering the passion they had for art, their son was star in his own area of interest, track and field. Interacting with such a diverse set of individuals helps open one’s mind to other areas of endeavor beyond their own. This can give one a new perspective on their own work, perhaps inspiring them to explore new areas of focus. Moreover, if you cannot pursue all of these endeavors yourself, at least you can learn about them and grow as a person in the process.

In addition to a simple exchange of lifestyles, tutoring helps one develop abilities in a very nuanced type of social skillself-promotion. To be a successful tutor demands that you inform others around you about your skills and services. This means having a knowledge of your own unique skillset and the ability to articulate information about it effectively to potential clients. For example, a historical linguist may market him or herself as an expert on SAT/ACT vocab, able to leverage his or her knowledge of Latin or Greek vocab etymology to help students. An insight like this could be the catalyst for the tutee not just succeeding on a standardized test, but for actually developing a true love of material they once found tedious.

It’s hard to underestimate the importance of self-promotion; someone could be the best tutor on the planet, but won’t be able to share his or her talents if they can’t reach the very people who need them most. While sites like Wyzant, a social media site that pairs students and tutors, promise easy access to the most ideal clients, the strings attached can be a bit constraining–Wyzant collects a “finder’s fee” of 45% for beginning tutors! Sometimes direct marketing is the best; I have a friend who found 10 ESL clients just by hanging up flyers in the residence halls with the most international students.

  1. Tutoring is the most direct way to teach others about what we all love—language!

It’s striking to me as I proceed through a lesson with any given student just how often I find myself calling on the principles of linguistics to provide insight. I’ll talk about nominalization in explaining what a gerund is, discuss Russell’s Paradox with a math student, or explain denotation and connotation, agreement, and well-formedness with a writing student.

Linguists possess an in-depth knowledge of difficult concepts like grammar (for which there are entire sections on the SAT/ACT/GRE), and have skills in analysis and form that apply directly to areas like writing and reading. By appealing to your linguistic knowledge as a tutor, you can share your love of language in a way that benefits your clients in a direct, concrete way.  Working to benefit humanity in such a way is, it’s often argued, the goal of science to begin with.

Thank you Pat for this insight into your world and perspective! Stay tuned for more posts from Pat, and if you are interested in joining the community of guest bloggers for Career Linguist, please reach out!

There are many ways to join the Career Linguist community 🙂

and here’s to what’s next!

Career Education, Career Exploration

“head west!” Starting career navigation

Sometimes starting up with career navigation can feel like that moment at the very beginning of a journey using GPS. That first moment, when you’re just starting off from standstill, and you are told “head west!” and you just have got no idea which way that might be. Sometimes it is hard to know enough about where you are starting from to get your bearings, to know which way to head.

And there is a strong sense that it will all be much easier once you get moving.

We have already explored the idea on this blog that when it comes to career, as a student of linguistics you are not just starting your journey, but if we choose to play with this idea of beginnings we can perhaps use it to help us think about how transitions can feel very much feel like beginnings, and perhaps we can use this idea to help us think a bit about why this “first” step can feel like such a challenge. Or put another way: What can we do to metaphorically take stock of where we currently are so that we can figure out which way to take those first few steps and catalyze just a tiny bit of momentum?

By way of case-study, Ping-Hsuan (Hogan) Wang has graciously agreed to share some of the details of the conversation he had with me recently at LSA as part of our expert consultation session (storytelling for career).

We began the conversation by taking stock of where he is now:

  • he’s in the second year of his M.A., graduating in May
  • working as a Teaching Assistant in the Chinese Department
  • involved in the Graduate Student Association
  • Involved with international students / office of Global services
  • social media

Reflecting on these, Ping recognizes first and foremost a passion for teaching, which explains why he has been doing it for so many years, a passion which is also evidenced in his tremendous YouTube channel featuring inspiring videos to get students excited about language learning.

But he also finds himself recently wanting to look a bit more deeply into a budding interest, working in intercultural exchange contexts, guided by the idea of helping participants recognize how much they bring to the encounter in addition to the many things they are aware of taking away from the experience.

So, we spent some time brainstorming points of navigation in the form of people, organizations, associations, and events, and he left (as should you all from any networking encounter) with two networking leads: one to whom he could give something and one from whom he could get.

Some of his points of orientation in case they help followers of this blog in turn:

Society for Intercultural Training, Education, and Research SIETAR

The World Bank

Intercultural Management Institute at American University

What are some of your favorite orientation points?

Share your rich resources with

Career Exploration, LinkedIn, WaLK series

Using LinkedIn to “pick one”

When you are just beginning a job search, it is at times very useful to just pick something.  As we have been discussing, there are many ways of conceptualizing work – many “ways in” to think about the world of work, so let’s think about how we might use this site to help pick one place to start: one industry, one organization, or one person.  Remember: you are just using this as a place to start – a place to ask yourself: “if that, then what?”


LinkedIn will be your research tool. Because it contains more information than any other source about the details of the working lives of the world’s professionals, you can think of it as your own annotated database of work.


Pick by Industry

Pick one industry from the list that speaks to you – for example: Photography.  Then ask yourself “if I were going to pursue opportunities in Photography, where might I see opportunities for someone with my skills and training?”  How do they think about communication?  Who is thinking about language?  Perhaps you can find a place to apply an interest in semiotics.  Use “Advanced People search” to search among your network.  Who are the people who you know who are working in this sector?


Pick by Organization  

Do you have a dream organization?  One that you have thought it might be fun to work for?  Find them on LinkedIn (and while you are on their page, be sure to “follow” them).  Take a look at their “About Us” do you see anything there that speaks to you?  Do thy happen to be hiring or recruiting at the moment?  Scroll down through their recent updates.  Do you see any “hooks” – i.e. an event that you might attend?  A resource that you might share?  Now scroll down the right hand column.  Are you connected to the organization in any way? What other organizations did people search?  Do you see any organizations that you might be interested in following up with?


Pick by job

Use some of your favorite keywords in the general search bar, selecting “job” in the drop down and see what returns.  When you find ones that you like, be sure to save them so that the “Jobs You May Be Interested In” (JYMBI) search algorithm becomes smarter and smarter in finding jobs for you.  Now take a careful look at this job ad.  Which of the tasks/duties/responsibilities speak to you in particular?  How do these map on to your skills / interests / abilities? Imagine that you were to apply for this job – what relevant information would you want this hiring committee to know about you.  Get that information into your profile!