Next Career Camp kicking off in January

For jobseekers, the work at the campfire begins with a focus on story listening, becoming more aware of the stories that are out there surrounding you and what may be learned from them. This might involve seeking out organizations of interest and paying attention to the stories they are telling about themselves to discern what degree of fit there is or what opportunities may be there for you.

Next, is storyfinding – a choice to seek out your own stories, looking even to genres like resumes to uncover details about how you work that help show how great you are to work with (they might also help you identify signposts, or turning points, or indicators of when you started doing something differently).

Finally, is storytelling – a perspective on crafting your experiences that is informed by awareness of what stories DO.

This process brings you back to your career journey with new perspective on where you are, where you have been, and where you are going, and with greater awareness of paths available, fellow travelers, and signposts along the way to guide you.

Attend an info session

Learn more

questions? Contact Career Linguist

sign up for Career Camp

I have no doubt that the work we did at Career Camp helped me to get some clarity regarding what I wanted to do in this post-teaching phase of my career, and your advice about interviews and cover letter writing was also invaluable. There were a lot of stages in this hiring process (seven stages in total, a combination of work tests and interviews), and I found myself telling plenty of stories in the interviews. Having done much of the groundwork around the campfire, I felt well prepared for the process. Thanks for helping me get to that place!

-participant in career camp summer 2017

Networking, intergenerationally

During a recent professional development workshop that I facilitated with Katie Nelson called Career Exploration and Education: An Ethnographic and Narrative Approach, we received one of the best questions from a recent graduate. Realizing that to get better at networking, she was going to need to get better at talking to people from different generations, she asked for advice specifically about how to network with people older than her.

I loved this question, and I could see by how all of the folks in the room leaned in, eager to engage, that it might just be a great way to break the ice when you are next at a networking event, or beginning an informational interview. Being meta to ask about networking as a way to facilitate networking might just be one of the better “asks” I have heard in recent memory:  What a great way to get the conversation going!

But back to the workshop: Our discussion focused mainly on etiquette, specifically terms of address, writing reach-out emails, and appropriately sized “asks.” I’ll discuss each in turn first sharing what we actually said, and then – reflecting back – expanding on some of the things I now wished that we had thought to say in the moment.

Terms of address – many of the older folks in this room happened to be professors, and/or PhDs who spoke to feeling a bit taken aback when approached by much younger people (mainly students?) addressing them using their first name without being invited to do so. As surrounds the current conversation about pronouns, a good rule of thumb seems to be that if someone doesn’t tell you how they would wish to be addressed, you should ask. As a woman, I do notice the tendency to more frequenly address me using my first name where male colleagues receive a title + LN, so I would say that more awareness to names and titles is in order.      

What I wished that I had thought to add: Along with my collaborator Criscillia Benford, I have also been giving workshops lately about more effective workplace conversations. For these trainings, we use improvisational theater games and techniques – for many reasons, but one of the big ones being that improv gives people a chance to practice making mistakes. And no matter what other activities we do, we always do a name game, because names are rightly understood to be extremely important in the workplace. However because they are so important, names can also often become the source of much anxiety. As human beings we will get other people’s names wrong from time to time, and we will forget them. In such moments, the important thing is to focus on the relationship. Remind yourself that it’s really about making the other person feel seen, and that you can ask for help.

Bringing awareness to the importance of names can also remind us that when we are first introducing ourselves, we can share ways of helping people remember our names, for example when I tell people that I am named Anna Marie, I often add that I am named for my two grandmothers – my father’s mother Ann and my mother’s mother Mary. That way if someone forgets my name, they can also say “oh, but I do remember that you are named for someone in your family…” and that helps with the relational work. The improv game equivalent is someone remembering the animal that starts with the same letter of your first name (or the sound or motion, or adjective you chose….etc. etc.). We can bring a bit of play to this task to make the work feel a bit lighter.

Writing reach-out emails – the conversation then turned to composing the “reaching out” email and the need for salutations and closings. But as the conversation proceeded, it really came down to questions of tone, directness, length and other aspects of writing style.  The conclusion we came to as a group was that it is a good rule of thumb to err on the side of formality when you are making a request to someone with seniority. 

What I wished that I had thought to add: from my own personal experience receiving such messages is the importance of giving the other person an “out,” following the negative politeness needs of someone who would rather not have to say “no” outright, but perhaps may need to, for example in the instance of a person reaching out for an informational interview while the organization is currently in an active job search. Organizations that I have worked for have had that policy (and announced it on the website that contained the job ad), but still, requests would come in. Simple as it is to say that we are unable to grant the interview request, still it does take energy – at least it does for me – to do so because as humans we are hard-wired for connection. I want to honor requests to connect, but it makes me feel a twinge of frustration to have to tell an applicant that they should read the job ad carefully.

The good news is that all of these little bumps in the road are very easily avoided by just giving the addressee of a reaching out message the benefit of a small “out,” something along the lines of “if for whatever reason you aren’t available or able to respond, I do of course completely understand, thank you for your time and attention.” This small expression of appreciation and awareness can go a very long way!

Framing up an appropriately sized “ask”

This topic became the focus of the discussion, mainly because stories about being asked for inappropriately large requests begat other such stories from members of the older generation. Examples included requests to write book summaries, to review a manuscript, or the request “help me find a job” with no further specificity or additional information. So I then asked the group “well, what kinds of things would you like to be asked for?” Some of those were: information about good references about specific topics, sharing giving feedback on a project idea or proposal, suggestions for events to attend or people to reach out for particular fields of expertise.

You’ll notice that all of these are small, and helpfully specific. They reflect an ability on the part of the ask-er to put themselves into the shoes of the ask-ee by making the request simple to complete. All things being equal, people usually prefer to be helpful, they like to be able to feel as though they are being of assistance, so making it easy for them to be able to do so really is a win-win.

What I wished that I had thought to add: is that there’s so much that older generations can learn from our younger colleagues, and I wish we had asked her in that moment the same kinds of questions: “what kinds of things would you like to be asked?” “how would you prefer to be approached?” “what would be conducive to making you feel more comfortable and included?” Something I saw being talked about a great deal on the Twitter feed of the conference, as just one source of input (from folks likelier to be in the younger generation) were micro-aggressions reflecting a lack of awareness on the speaker’s part of the priviledge embedded in their perspective when interacting with people with less power. We probably all could stand to practice being more comfortable with noticing when we make such mistakes, talking to colleagues about mistakes when we notice them, and issuing repair and apology.

Some last thoughts:

My story approach teaches me that having done a bit of work before a networking event or a conference can be very useful because you have a pocketful of small stories at the ready (you may already see why I call them “pocket examples”).

If you’re gearing up for some networking (inter-generational or otherwise) a great way to prepare for making connections might be to spend some time thinking about your formative experiences – the big events in your life that have made you who you are (or make you think the way you think). In my case, it is likely the fact that I move so much as a kid that I am so aware of connections and care so much about helping people make them. A great example given by Karen Wicre in her excellent book Taking the Work Out of Networking is “I was an army brat, and that’s what led me to real estate. I want to help people put down roots.” These little stories give your interlocutor something to respond to and they invite stories in return, which make conversations effortless!

A major takeaway from Wicre’s book is that in a rapidly changing world, we increasingly need the support and resources of community. So here’s to learning how to better make connections in support of what’s next!  

Career Events at AAA/CASCA

For anyone attending the American Anthropological Association (AAA) / Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA) meetings in Vancouver later this month, here’s some career education and exploration activities to note:

2019 AAA/CASCA Annual Meeting Main banner
  1. A panel discussion of “rapid assessment” methods. This roundtable explores critical perspectives on linguistic anthropology methods with the aim of developing a methodological framework for rapid assessment that retains the analytic strength of long-term fieldwork while being feasible in both “academic” and “applied” contexts. We also seek to destabilize the binary between “academic” and “applied” by providing a framework for linguistic ethnographic research that can be applied across both contexts, but also noting logistical differences between the two.

2. The Careers Exposition – Friday from 11am – 4pm in the Convention Center.

The Expo features anthropologists who have made careers in the public, private and non-profit sectors. Participants share the creative ways that anthropologists use their skills and highlight some of the many new and emerging careers open to professional anthropologists. Past Expos have featured major corporations, federal agencies, consulting firms, nonprofits and independent consulting anthropologists.

3. Career Education and Exploration workshop

This half-day workshop is designed to engage participants in guided introspection about connections among academic, applied research, and teaching interests. Anthropologists will bring rigorously honed methodological and linguistic analytic skills to the task of researching their own (academic and nonacademic) careers, and to inform their next steps professionally.

Part One – Ethnography: Participants will work in pairs to investigate and explore their interests. Following a guide, partners will ask one another open-ended questions that illuminate motivators and drivers and explore professional expressions of these meaningful aspects of their lives.

Part Two – Narrative: Each participant will create and tell a story about a professional challenge and its solution. Drawing from narrative analysis, the group will provide feedback (following a rubric) about how these stories construct and convey identity and meaning, considering possible options for reframing: i.e. creating a more agentive stances. Participants will discuss how context (networking, informational or job interviewing) might inform design and use of these stories.

Part Three – Networking: Participants will have the opportunity to practice networking with invited professionals from a range of fields (i.e. localization, educational technology). By focusing on the formulation of professional requests, participants will cultivate networking connections and experience, ultimately recognizing their role in creating opportunities (for themselves and the field more broadly).

Hope to see you there!

Planet Word Museum opening May 2020!

According to this article in the Washingtonian magazine the Planet Word Museum will welcome visitors starting on May 31, 2020!

If you don’t live in the Washington, DC area, find a way to get there next summer!!!

Speaking Willow — A Unique Art Installation for Planet Word

Exhibits will include interactive sound installations (as pictured above), as well as other playful, interactive, and uniquely designed experiences to celebrate language and how “exciting innovations in applied linguistics—from technology to medicine to psychology to forensics—are changing our world every day”

Virtually co-work on the Mighty

Attend a co-working session on the CL Mighty Network

Could you use some support working on a long-term project? Come co-work with a community of linguists!

It’s all part of the CL Mighty Network!

Co-Working sessions are a time to come together to make progress on small (pieces of larger) tasks. We keep the zoom line open and each person quietly works on a project of his/her choosing (with light facilitation at intervals throughout the session).

Our Regular Weekly sessions are

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 8-10am PST / 11-1pm EST

….with additional sessions as requested/organized by members!

Read more and sign up for the CL Mighty Network here

Want to learn more about the community?
Attend an Open House

next Career Camp info session 11/15

Interested in Career Camp, but want to know more (and perhaps experience a bit of the magic) before you sign up?  Bring all of your questions to a (virtual) info session:

Friday 11/15, 2pm pdt / 5pm edt
Friday 12/13, 2pm pdt / 5pm edt

all sessions will take place on zoom here:                  

questions? Contact Career Linguist

sign up for Career Camp

Next Career Camp will be in January 2020

Guest post: Working as a language data specialist

Olivia Hirschey Marrese is a linguist based in Boulder, CO. She is currently pursuing her PhD in linguistics at the University of Colorado, where she researches conversations in English and Spanish. Olivia also works in the field of computational linguistics as a data annotator and language data specialist.

Olivia Hirschey Marrese

This summer, I interned at SoundHound Inc. They develop voice-recognition, natural language understanding, and sound-recognition works with partners such as Honda, Pandora, Motorola, and Mercedes-Benz, integrating voice and conversation intelligence into products and services. As a language data specialist on the Spanish and English teams, I validated, curated, transcribed, and QAed speech training data. Though I’ve worked in data annotation and have ample experience in data management, this was a new application for my linguistic knowledge and an exciting challenge.

In machine learning, no detail is too small to overlook. Something as simple as the diacritic mark on the Spanish word cómo completely changes the word’s meaning, and although humans can rely on contextual cues and world knowledge to understand a phrase, machines don’t have that luxury. Every bit of data has to be accounted for, and in addition to the linguistic challenge of handling that volume of data, it also takes a great deal of coordination to make a team and project run smoothly. I was based in the new Boulder office, while the rest of the Spanish team was at headquarters in Santa Clara. Even at a tech company, somethings things go wrong with the Wifi, and all of us had to be adaptable and self-sufficient to get the work done. 

After working a full day at SoundHound, I would return home to work on my second qualifying paper for my PhD program. As an academic, I’m a sociocultural linguist and conversation analyst. Essentially, I study how humans interact through conversation, and how people create, uphold, and challenge societal norms in everyday talk. 

These two worlds may seem a bit disparate, and indeed in many traditional academic circles, exploring careers beyond the tenure-track is often called ‘alternative academic’ or even ‘non academic’. I’d like to challenge this binary a bit. As a language data specialist, all of my work has been highly academic. It takes very specialized linguistic knowledge and training to understand how to work with language data and how to approach challenges in artificial intelligence. On the flip side, academic roles are often much more involved with the “real world” than many people assume. From our funding sources to our students, work inside universities is by no means separate from the cities and societies we live in, even if individual research topics can often appear removed from industry applications. 

Linguists especially occupy a niche position between academia and industry. As the field of AI and voice recognition continues to grow, and as we encounter new challenges in product, policy, and performance, we need linguists leading paths towards the future. As linguists, we understand the technical aspects of language as well as how language functions as a broader system, and industry needs both of these perspectives. SoundHound clearly understands this need and has demonstrated the value they place in their interns. As a linguist, I’m glad I was one of them. 

Thank you Olivia for sharing your experience with the Career Linguist community!

You can reach Olivia at

Career Camp Winter 2020

Career Camp is five weeks of focused activities, reflection, and structured feedback on the language used in career interactions. Weekly activities bring a linguistic lens to the stories which comprise professional navigation. You will leave with a resume that blows their SOQs off, cover letters that speak to why THEY need you, and pocket examples that show you @ work!

Break down the process of career exploration into small, manageable pieces and make progress as part of a community by bringing linguistic ways of listening to stories and what they do in career contexts.

To sign up put Career Camp into your basket on my booking page here

Want to know more? Read all about it on Career Linguist

Questions? Contact Career Linguist

Attend a Career Camp Information Session

Goings-on on the Mighty

The CAreer Linguist Mighty Network.png

(download the CL Mighty Network flyer)

Join the CL Mighty Network for free for a month at any time!

Want to take a tour? Attend a Mighty Network Open House at noon PST on Wednesday Nov 13th.

Upcoming events on the Mighty include:

  • Co-Working sessions
    Work with us on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 8am-10am PDT / 11am – 1pm EDT. Make progress on (small pieces of) big tasks in community!
  • Biweekly Check-ins
    Get and give support and accountability for other career linguists navigating their professional lives
  • Book Discussion – This month we will be reading Permission to Screw Up: How I learned to Lead by Doing (Almost Everything) Wrong by Kristen Hadeed
  • If you are interested in Career Camp, attend an info session for the next round on Nov 15th at 2pm PDT / 5pm EDT – the next session will be happening in Jan 2020.

Career Camp Reunion

With the close of the 2019 fall edition of Career Camp, it’s reunion time again!!


Welcome to anyone who has participated in Career Camp over the years!  Pop in, say hi, let us know what you have been up to these days and come and hear what everyone else is doing!

Bring your “asks”

Friday, Oct 18th  at 2pm pdt / 5pm edt

on zoom here:

Feeling FOMO? You too can be a happy camper! –

the winter 2020 edition of Career Camp will start in January. Start the new year off right by making some time to focus on your career next steps.