Career Camp reunion – July 18th

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

fire-01Welcome 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!

Thursday, July 18th  at 2pm pdt / 5pm edt

on zoom here:

Feeling FOMO? You too can be a happy camper –

the fall 2019 edition of Career Camp starts on Aug 30

Coming up on the Mighty Network

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!

Upcoming events include:

  • Co-Working sessions
    Work with us on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 8am-10am PDT / 11am – 1pm EDT
  • 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 Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language and we are so lucky to have the author, Amanda Montel, joining our discussion! August 6th at 11am PDT / 2pm EDT


Book review: Designing Your Life

BurnettEvans_DesigningYourLife_Book_v5In their book, Designing Your Life, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans bring “design thinking” to the “wicked problems” of career and life design. Reading the book, I was struck by the parallels between design thinking as defined and explored here and the ways that linguists approach problems, and specifically, how we approach bringing linguistics to work.

In this post, I’ll explore the application of linguistic ways of thinking to the task of navigating career.  I’ll respond to the five principles of design thinking outlined by Burnett and Evans in Designing Your Life (DYL), identifying parallels and key differentiators to the linguistic correlates which might comprise a “Linguistic Thinking” approach.

  Design Thinking Thinking like a Linguist
1. Curiosity Curiosity about language
2. Bias to action / try stuff Bias for data / an empirical approach
3. Reframe problems FRAMING and reframing
4. Know it’s a process Many processes (e.g. meaning-making)
5. Ask for help Honoring the ask


Curiosity about Language

If designers build things, we linguists know that just about everything else that gets done in a workplace gets done through language. Language can DO things like shape our understanding of experience and inform our interactions. Language is our raw material. And because language DOES THINGS in interaction, an awareness of how language works can help a participant be able to DO THINGS in an interaction like shape and reshape the construction of meaning, identity, and mutual understanding.

And while a focus on language is admittedly a much narrower focus for curiosity, it is precisely this narrowness, as I will argue, that makes the approach actionable (see the next point).

Empirical Approach

Bill Burnett and Dave Evans explain that design thinking brings with it a bias to action. If as linguists, language is our lens, our “way in” to understanding a problem, our orientation also comprehends the duality that language both constructs and is constitutive of things like meaning, identity, and lived experience. So, this means that because we know experience is mediated through language, we can ask ourselves HOW language is shaping our experience and how it could be (could have been) different.

Now, given the design thinking “bias to action,” one might expect DYL to just jump right into a discussion of trying things out career-wise. ……and yet, this book is structured just like every other career guide starting with evaluation and self-reflection activities, which to me seems antithetical. Taking stock is good, but I find that (especially for people who are overwhelmed or stuck) it can be a hurdle in that it can invite analysis paralysis.

I propose that the linguistic bias for data provides a more productive and tangible way-forward. We are empiricists, so the way that we like to do things is to collect data, analyze it, and look for patterns!! We want to see evidence. So, when it comes to thinking about careers, I can’t think of a better way to start than to look back at past choices and note patterns. This is why precisely this kind of taking stock is the very first activity in Bringing Linguistics to Work.

And then we start.

The best way to start is to start. In the case of navigating a career, this means bringing our attention to the language being used in our career texts, and to get them circulating! Our understanding that language shapes experience entails a way of listening that encompasses paying attention to what was said as a choice, while at the same time holding an awareness of what wasn’t said, what could have been said and perhaps why it wasn’t. For linguists, this way of listening is so taken for granted so as to be almost invisible, but it brings a gentle way of listening and seeing. A way of paying attention that both sees and “sees through” language and its relationship to meaning. We can bring this to a career text like a resume, asking how it could be different, perhaps trying something different and then seeing what the results are. BY SENDING IT OUT!!!


I often find myself shouting “yes, but HOW?” at books when they give excellent advice that is – in my humble option – not terribly actionable. I confess that I found myself doing just this as I read the section of this book that focused on the “reframe.” Yes, reframing is important, but it is a skill that requires training and practice, so you need to tell us HOW to reframe. It can be very hard to recognize an operative frame, much less to recognize the ways that it could be different or the language choices that are contributing to the operant frame’s being upheld. Here, again I would put forward that an awareness of language makes both framing and reframing much more actionable.

Bring linguistic awareness to attend to framing choices, ask how they are shaping thought and action. Consider how they might be different.

As but one example, I love the authors’ discussion of gravity problems, such as that we can’t really bring too much of our energy in the moment of applying for jobs to the fact that most artists don’t get paid as much as they should in our society. This is lamentable, and there are ways that we can advocate to raise awareness and change consciousness about the societal importance of art in the long term, but in the short term if you are an artist and you need to pay the rent, it may be that you need to get a “good enough job” so that you can support yourself and still have energy left to do art on the evenings and weekends. As an artist, you should do what you can to create art, but you shouldn’t give up entirely (or never start in the first place)!

MANY processes

So now we come to the aspect of design thinking that talks about how career design is a process, and you would think that I could hardly take issue with this idea, but in fact I find myself wanting to point out that there are many processes involving meaning-making, identity construction, not to mention myriad interpretive processes which make even things like being understood an interactional achievement.

Jobcrafting is one process among many operative in navigating career (for more on this see book review of Should I Stay or Update my Resume?) and not only is the world of world always changing, but many of us are navigating uncharted territory. Again, I see our linguistic training as an advantage here because we are trained to find patterns in chaos, we know how to sort through overwhelming amounts and self-contradicting and ambiguous input. We can selectively choose to focus on just one of the many operant processes (paying attention to the stories told in informational interviews for example), a deciding why we are focusing on just this one (because we want to tell stories that are likelier to engender thinking about opportunities) and how this will have impact in the interconnected, intersecting processes which comprise the process of career orienteering ( that when informational interviews go better, we are likelier to be introduced to more people, thus broadening our network).


Asking for help

Finally we come to my favorite part of the book, the idea that you need to ask for help, which I find utterly apt and entirely unobjectionable!!  AND, where – you might not be surprised to hear – I see yet another advantage for linguists!

If it is true – and indeed I wholeheartedly believe that it is – that we need to be better about asking for help, a linguists’ awareness of language can help us bring attention to “the ask” by honoring it, as I have explored in previous posts on this blog:

Honoring the ask

Honoring the ask redux

Because language is generative, in other words because talk does things, we can be aware that in asking for help, we are likely to also be building community and generating opportunities at the same time.  A linguist told me a story once about how her dissertation research had entirely changed her ways of thinking about social interaction. She had done her fieldwork in Papua New Guinea exploring cultural rituals in community – things like how asking for favors worked. She learned that asking for things actually was the thing that engendered trust the most, so now, when she moves into a new neighborhood, she makes a point of asking her neighbors for small “asks” like “would you keep an eye on the house when I am out of town next weekend?” rather than taking them over a pie or some other gift that would unexpectedly give them a sense of obligation.  People like being helpful and these small favors, rather than being perceived as an imposition are in fact the way that relationships get established, maintained, and deepened, and it is no less true in the world of work.

So do ask, keep asking, and keep the asks small, what Adam Grant would call the 5 minute favor: “could you make an introduction to this person?” “will you glance at my cover letter and let me know if there is anything jumping out at you?” “can you recommend any industry publications that I should be reading to get myself up to speed with this field?”

Look for ways to be helpful yourself, to pay it forward.  When you help someone else out, they are likelier to want to help you, and also because this helps to build the world that I know I want to live in: a world where people look for ways to help one another out.

A really GREAT book!!!

So yeah, in case my critical engagement made it such that it wasn’t clear, let me end here by saying that I am a big fan of Designing Your Life. I have found myself referring to it and recommending it again and again. It gives great perspective, and brings attention to limiting beliefs that many people don’t really talk about, such as the very ways that we go about looking for jobs. It really is about who you know, which can in fact be a good thing, because going out there to find the people who are in a position to help you also benefits you because it gives you the opportunity to clarify your goals and purpose as you learn about their work and get feedback on your own. This process also builds community, putting you in a position to better help those who will come next.

So here’s to what (and who) comes next and I would love to hear your thoughts: what do you say to this idea of “linguistic thinking”? Have you read Designing Your Life?  What did you take away?

Linguist job @ LinkedIn

Engineering Linguist [Contract Position]We are seeking extraordinary talent to work alongside machine learning researchers, software engineers, data experts, and product managers to build out LinkedIn’s Economic Graph — our knowledge bases about economic entities like professions, companies, and skills. This work drives all of the products at LinkedIn so that we can create economic opportunity for professionals everywhere.

Our ideal candidate will be native speakers of English / German / French / Spanish / Brazil / Portuguese/ Chinese / Japanese) who are passionate about applying his or her expertise to increase the accuracy and coverage of the systems that we use to process information from jobs and members.  This position is a full-time contractor role up to one year at our office in Mountain View, CA.

Responsibilities of this roleIn this role, you will create, enrich, and validate our knowledge bases and taxonomies by creating new knowledge and evaluating how that knowledge helps in practice. These include tasks like the following:

Knowledge Creation

  • Identifying systematic relationships between concepts such as job titles, skills, certificates, etc.
  • Researching, classifying, and annotating the phrases, terms, and data in messy, user-generated data
  • Research new entity categories and best practices for organizing them
  • Leverage external resources like Wikipedia and standards to enrich and organize our data


  • Create instructions for outsourced evaluations, for example with Figure Eight
  • Evaluate the output of machine learning classifiers and internal tools

Basic Qualifications

  • Native speaker of English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin or Japanese
  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills in English
  • Strong problem solving and conceptual thinking skills
  • Analytical skills in your languages with high attention to detail
  • Willingness to learn technical concepts and new tools and a keen interest in technology
  • Comfortable working with unclear classification rules or on unfamiliar topics
  • Ability to prioritize and explain decisions
  • BS/BA Degree in Linguistics, Computational Linguistics, Library and Information Science, Philosophy, Experimental Psychology, Mathematics, or related discipline.
  • 1+ years of experience with taxonomy work, search, controlled vocabularies, and/or linguistic annotation

Preferred Qualifications

  • Ability to understand and apply complex task-specific instructions with minimal supervision
  • Understand the tradeoffs involved in making classification decisions
  • Practical experience with the messiness of user-generated content
  • Knowledge of semantics, dictionary building, controlled vocabularies, taxonomies, and/or ontologies
  • Knowledge of tools for natural language processing and/or Figure Eight
  • Proficiency in programming languages such as Python, Java, SQL
  • MS or PhD in Linguistics, Computational Linguistics, Library and Information Science, Philosophy, Experimental Psychology, Mathematics, or related discipline.

Careers for Linguists Beyond the Academy

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Career Linguists in the Bay Area: check out the event hosted by the Linguistics Beyond Academia SIG! A fun and informal night of food & discussion about careers for linguists outside the university.

July 8th, 6-8 pm a the Bicycle Museum in Davis. See you there!

CL Mighty Network Open House

CL Mighty Network Open House

Join us to learn all about the CL (Mighty) Network

Wednesday, Nov 13th at noon pdt / 3pm edt

on zoom here:

Experience the benefit of participation in a community of linguists who are all bringing linguistics to their work

Your professional network can be a tremendous source of support, inspiration, and knowledge. Networks help you quickly get plugged in with resources for problem-solving as you tackle unanticipated professional challenges and questions. They are also a powerful mechanism for creating and sharing opportunities.

job: Director of Civic Engagement


Director of Civic Engagement

Reports to: CMO & Head of Impact

Preferred Start Date: July 1, 2019 is a movement to create the most socially active generation in history.

  • We fight for our members every single day. We care deeply about activating millions of young people around the world to make impact in their communities.
  • We believe in young people. We believe all young people have the agency to create social change and we provide them with the guidance to make it happen.
  • We don’t hire just anybody. We work hella hard, we move super fast, and we’re a bunch of weirdos. We want people who get excited to come to work at our dynamic office every day.
  • We genuinely stand behind who we are and what we do. No faking it here. Everyone on our staff has their own “why” for coming to work every day. What will yours be?


Overview: is looking for a Director of Civic Engagement to create, lead, and evaluate all of our civic engagement initiatives, for our 6 million+ members, 13-25 years old, in every area code of the U.S. You’ll work to ensure that young people’s voices are heard by our government, at all levels, and that we are running effective campaigns that mobilize young people to act, advocate, protest, attend town hall meetings, get out the vote, and everything in between. The goal? Long-term behavior change. We want these activations to give young people the tools, resources, and experiences necessary to continue to be civically engaged throughout their lives.


  • Voter Registration & GOTV.
    • Manage all aspects of DoSomething’s voter registration and GOTV initiatives, our most important and high profile initiatives for 2019 and 2020.
    • Work with strategic partners in the space to produce the largest youth turnout for a US election. Ever.
  • Civic Strategy.
    • Develop civic strategy for the organization to promote lifelong civic behaviors amongst our members.
    • Advocate across the organization to incorporate civic engagement best practices into our work.
    • Decide when DoSomething needs to participate in events that are happening (say, in the Women’s March), lead when no one else is stepping up, or actually sit this one out.
    • Along with our Civic Engagement Lead, head up our rapid response strategy as it relates to causes most important to young people.
  • Civic Expertise.
    • Identify trends and insights in civic engagement and young people to share with our staff, and integrate into our work.
    • Develop and lead our Civic Engagement Advisory Board, made up of experts in the civic space, to contribute to thought leadership in the space.
  • Project Management.
    • Lead advocacy initiatives for, amplifying youth voices and making sure that their POV is heard on a national stage. These will be organization-wide initiatives, and you’ll manage a cross-functional team strategy (campaigns, messaging, social, editorial, etc) to achieve our civic impact goals.
    • Run campaigns for DoSomething and, in conjunction with our partners and sponsors, always with an eye on how each campaign can ladder up to civic action.
    • Oversee our college campus activists and help connect them to each other and to our current DoSomething campaign initiatives.
    • Manage awesome college and high school interns.


  • A big campaign win. You have previously led a group of people to a measurable success on a social change campaign. This could have been as an activist, professionally, or on the side.
  • Outstanding project management experience. You’re a quick thinker who knows how to put out fires (short-term triage), then reconfigure processes (long-term improvements).
  • Political expertise. You know everything there is to know about how the government works (but you still smile on a regular basis), and you understand how young people can effect change in that arena.
  • Partnership experience. You have overseen and grown partnerships with activists, elected officials, and organizations.
  • A major cause-y news addiction. You know who breaks news on Twitter in different cause spaces because you live & breathe this stuff.
  • Strong presentation, verbal, and written skills, as well as proven ability to develop well-positioned and thoughtful documents and presentations.
  • Troubleshooting pro. We’re looking for someone who can stay cool under pressure while also springing quickly into action to get everyone back on track.
  • Mentorship. A genuine eagerness to mentor, encourage, and learn from a diverse and talented team.
  • Unafraid of change. Enthusiasm for a fast-paced, constantly changing work environment.
  • Advocacy. You know how it’s done. Either you’ve worked at an NGO and had policy wins, or you’ve been in government and seen it from the inside. Or, you just happen to be one of the founders of Black Lives Matter. That would be awesome, too.
  • Youth expertise. You understand what makes young people tick, and love being immersed in youth pop culture.

Select Perks & Benefits.

  • 3 weeks’ vacation plus the week between Christmas and New Year’s (and Summer Fridays from Memorial Day to Labor Day—office closes at 1:30), a fun office environment, a spot on our summer kickball team, and occasional brownie bake-offs. Plus, you don’t have to come to work on your birthday.
  • 100% medical and dental premiums covered. Yep, you read that right.
  • Five (or six? We’re losing count) different ways to make coffee. We also have tea, if that’s more your thing.
  • DoSomething is an equal opportunity employer. Obviously.

Please, no calls.

———————————————— and DoSomething Strategic (“we”, “us”) are committed to protecting and respecting your privacy. This policy explains when and why we collect personal information on candidates, and how we keep it secure.

Who are we?

  • is one of the largest organizations in the world focused on young people and social change. DoSomething Strategic is the consulting arm of Our 6 million+ members take action, online and offline, to better their communities by participating in one of our 250+ cause campaigns.

How and why we collect data from you.

  • We collect and retain data that is included in your job application. This includes your full name, contact information, and any personal information disclosed in your resume, cover letter, and other supplemental application materials.
  • Data is collected for evaluation criteria when seeking employment at DoSomething
  • We will only use your data for what was originally intended—for purposes of seeking and gaining employment at DoSomething. Your data will not be “recycled” for marketing emails or sold to third parties.

How long do we retain this data?

  • DoSomething will retain candidate profiles for 3 years.
  • Annually on August 1, candidate profiles from 3+ years prior will be entirely deleted from our system.

Is your data secure?

  • JazzHR maintains secure job board pages. Job boards will default to HTTPS. Additionally, if we were to terminate our contract with JazzHR, our candidate data would be deleted from JazzHR’s systems in accordance with JazzHR’s Terms of Service.

Career Camp is starting again in June!!


Career Camp testimonial III

Career Camp is five weeks of focused activities and structured feedback on the stories used in career interactions. Each week we focus on a different story from the professional self-presentation genres (resume, LinkedIn summary sections, your “about me”spiels etc.). We gather as a group on Fridays at 2pm PDT / 5pm EDT

5/31, 6/7, 6/14, 6/21, & 6/28 – plus a one-on-one session w/ Anna Marie

Take the time to do some reflection and discernment or gear up to hit the ground running with a newly focused jobsearch with a resume that blows their SOQs off, cover letters that speak to why THEY need you, and pocket examples that show the WHY of your work!

Want to learn more?

Questions? Contact Career Linguist

To sign up put “Career Camp Summer 2019 into your basket here

KICKOFF: May 31st @ 2pm PDT/ 5pm EDT

Career Camp is based on activities and ideas from Bringing Linguistics to WorkTwitter_BK_ACX0_133187.jpg


summer internship oppy in Brooklyn – research

At Umbrella, we help Members 65+ care for and age in their homes by connecting them with Umbrella Neighbors — handy and skilled folks in their communities. As a user research intern, you’ll help us understand our Members and Umbrella Neighbors and their needs.

We’re looking for a summer intern, who will be on our team for roughly 10-12 weeks.


– Deepen our company and industry’s understanding of older adults 65+.

– Work across the company to help us learn more about a variety of customers we serve — our Members, Umbrella Neighbors and Umbrella Pros — through both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

– Create repeatable deliberate forums for user input and use this feedback to help the rest of the team shape digital and service products, software design, and other solutions.

– Publish your findings, positioning Umbrella as an expert for the 65+ community.


– Currently pursuing or recently graduated with a degree in HCI, Psychology, Cognitive Sciences, Anthropology, Information Science, or a related field

– Experience conducting a variety of user research methods both quantitative and qualitative

– A deep curiosity and empathy for our 65+ year old user.

– Enjoy helping others see and understand your research through strong storytelling

– Excel in fast paced environment with high ambiguity and rapid change needed – you make stuff happen.

– Humility. No task is too small for anyone on our team. You’re ready to roll up your sleeves and do whatever it takes.

– Work ethic. We have fun here – and part of fun for us is working hard toward an important goal.

Thinking about Career Camp?

Career Linguists_ Gather around the campfire - Fridays June

Info session:
Friday 5/24, 2pm pdt / 5pm edt

sessions take place on zoom here                    questions? Contact Career Linguist

sign up for Career Camp

What past participants are saying about Career Camp:

Thinking in terms of stories was transformative for me. I’m definitely a convert to the notion of seeing the world in stories. Before Career Camp I’d been feeling stuck. I was uncomfortable and unsure about how to interact with LinkedIn. I didn’t enjoy researching organizations. This mini-course changed the way I look at those activities; when everything is a story, everything is data. Looking at data is fun, so looking at LinkedIn can be fun, too. I now feel less stressed and more productive as I explore and apply.  

  • Career Camp participant

In the space of a month, with just a few hours of work each week, I learned as much useful information as I’ve learned in many a previous semester long class. What surprised me most about Camp was how enjoyable it was to chat with other students (campers?) each week. How can a group video chat with strangers feel like a campfire with friends? I don’t know, but I liked it! I learned from other people’s stories, and felt supported in my career journey. I highly recommend this little digital bootcamp of career narratives to linguists and nonlinguistic alike!  Let Anna Marie introduce you to the wild world of stories! 

  • Career Camp participant