Annual Career Night
Friday, November 20, 2015
Friday, November 20, 2015
The Asian Languages and Literatures department hosted its annual career night on Thursday, November 19th. The event, facilitated by Professor Reiko Sono, focused on life after UMass; topics covered were careers, alternate uses for a humanities degree, and graduate school. Speakers included Caroline Gould from UMass career services, alumnus Eriko Stronach, and Department of Labor translator Xiangxi Liu. Many students attended the event and were alleviated of many post-college fears.
The first speaker, Caroline Gould, is the career advisor for the entire College of Humanities and Fine Arts. The first point Ms. Gould conveyed was that a second language does not ensure students with positions as translators. She discussed the two major fields in which translators work: legal and medical. For many who are passionate about translating in these fields, Ms. Gould recommends a certificate to practice the field-specific jargon.
A foolproof way of securing a translation job is to use one’s language degree to enhance a job seeker’s basic work skill. Ms. Gould’s main position is that one needs a practical or applied skill other than just the core language. Students interested in acquiring a practical skill were encouraged to explore certificates in art skills, graphic design, or the PWTC (Professional Writing and Technical Communications) Program.
A final point made by Ms. Gould is that internships are essential! Trying something new while at UMass and disliking it is the best place to realize that a particular career is not as interesting as previously thought because there is plenty of opportunity to change. Another positive quality of internships is the addition of a practical/applied skill to put on one’s resume. Ms. Gould wrapped up her segment by saying, “If you haven’t had an epiphany [about a career choice], you haven’t had enough input.”
Next, UMass alumnus Eriko Stronach spoke about her career and steps students should take to ensure a job for themselves after college. Ms. Stronach graduated in 2012 with a B.A. in political science. After graduation, Ms. Stronach worked in the JET program for 3 years. Currently, she works as a Diplomatic Assistant at the Embassy of Japan in Washington D.C.
As a Diplomatic Assistant, Eriko attends symposiums, takes notes, writes reports for diplomats, and drafts daily newsletters. She found the job through the Embassy website’s homepage. Ms. Stronach advises the use of the Embassy homepage because there is almost always a link to open job opportunities. The single most important piece of advice Eriko gave was to constantly network. Networking is the best way to self-market and ensure the best career for oneself. Don’t be shy, just distribute resumes and get your name out in the world!
Next to speak was Xiangxi Liu who attended UMass Amherst for both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Xiangxi currently holds a master’s degree in Chinese Linguistics. Mr. Liu works for the U.S. Department of Labor to resolve labor disputes with local Chinese businesses. As a translator, Mr. Liu travels a lot because he is one of the few at the Department of Labor that knows the jargon of labor disputes in both English and Chinese. Because there are so many labor disputes and so few translators, Xiangxi’s schedule is always very busy. The good news about the lack of translators the DOL currently has is that there are over 800 translation positions currently available! If you have any questions, please email Xiangxi at Liu.Xiangxi@dol.gov.
With regards to graduate school, much advice was given throughout the night. Many students may want to pursue an MA or PhD directly after graduating with a BA. Both degrees require the same materials, but the PhD application requires more depth in the process. Scores on the GRE and TOEFL are extremely important aspects of the graduate school application process.
Many students taking these standardized tests prepare for at least 3 months, which allows for much practice because the key is to obtain the highest score possible because many graduate schools will only take students who scored above the 80th percentile. Another important number for the graduate school application is one’s GPA. The speaker advised that students should do everything that they can to raise their GPA as soon as possible. Don’t worry if you have a bad grade in an irrelevant field though, many schools do not care if you did not ace chemistry as a linguistics major.
Finally, some important documents to think about were mentioned: the personal statement and resume. Students should have professors, friends, classmates, and parents proofread all graduate school documents because they want to present themselves as the single best candidate for the program. It was also recommended that students customize each application so it does not feel as though a mass application was distributed.