Fit For Fitbit – How Alex Alyakrinskiy (MATLM ’17) Landed His Job

Alex Alyakrinskiy graduated from Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) with an MA degree in Translation and Localization Management (English-Russian) in spring of 2017. Prior to coming to MIIS, he worked as Localization Project Manager at a small LSP in Palo Alto. Alex is currently a Localization Program Manager at Fitbit in San Francisco.

*How did you find your job?

 I started looking for a job four months prior to graduation. After several interviews, I landed a part-time job at a startup which allowed me the flexibility to work remotely and finish graduate school. That experience gave me an understanding of localization stakeholders which in turn helped with my full-time job search. I always wanted to combine my passion for sports, healthcare and foreign languages. As soon as I saw a job opening at Fitbit on LinkedIn I applied right away. I was hired after four rounds of interviews.

*What experiences at MIIS helped?

It goes without saying that understanding the industry plays a key role in successful employment. The localization industry is very dynamic and multi-faceted—there is something in it for everyone. Working with my MIIS career advisors Winnie Heh and Lee Desser helped to shape my resume and highlight my professional goals. Attending localization meetups and networking events such as IMUG and SF Globalization helped me to understand the versatility of our industry and align my interests and skills with opportunities in the field.

The TLM program provided a solid foundation in the latest localization tools and technical skills so valued today. I didn’t realize how closely marketing is connected to localization until I took Adam Wooten’s Marketing for Localization course. The skills I gained in that class furthered my understanding of international markets, establishing liaisons with marketing stakeholders and addressing global product launches. The Localization Practicum was a detailed hands-on class that showed the value of team work and provided the latest industry best practices which I use on daily basis at Fitbit.

 *What advice would you share with MIIS students?

“There is always room for improvement. Keep networking, update your resume religiously and constantly work on yourself.” I heard that advice from a MIIS career advisor. It turned out to be the best advice I received. Looking for a job is a full-time job. Study hard, absorb new skills and try to get as much practical experience as possible. We all have different personalities and temperaments, which brings diversity and enriches every workplace. Stay true to yourself, network and establish genuine connections that will lead you to your perfect career.

Winnie Heh

Career Advisor



ASK ME HOW I GOT HIRED – Riddhi Desai (MAT ’18, MIIS)

Riddhi Desai is a Certified Public Accountant from the State of New York. She worked for top consulting firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP and Deloitte, LLP prior to coming to MIIS to pursue a degree in Translation (English – Japanese). She landed translation projects on equity research with Shared Research Inc. in summer 2017.  According to the company’s website, they “offer corporate clients comprehensive report coverage, a service that allows them to better inform investors and other stakeholders by presenting a continuously updated third-party view of business fundamentals, independent of investment biases.”  This offered a great opportunity for Riddhi to leverage her financial and language training.  Here is her path to this opportunity.

*How did you find your job/internship?

After several rounds of lengthy translation tests with a certain company from the career fair, communication fizzled out. By that point, my other classmates had secured wonderful internships and I was feeling like a failure in comparison. In a moment of utter desperation, I remembered a company I’d heard about that specialized in equity research translation, the field in which I’m most interested. Unfortunately, like most companies in this field, they weren’t advertising anywhere about recruiting, nor did they have any job postings. I found their general recruiting address online, and cold-emailed them explaining my background asking if they were in need of freelancers. I hadn’t expected anyone to reply, but they did!

*What experiences at MIIS helped (career management course, career fair, individual career advice, the MIIS network, coursework, class project, immersive learning experiences)?

When I was feeling down after the fiasco with the previous company, talking with Winnie Heh, my Career Adviser, really helped. She reminded me that I could choose to either mope about things, or pick myself up and start again. I’d also first heard about Shared Research from a couple of MIIS professors who knew I had an interest in equity research.

*What advice would you share with MIIS students?

The job search isn’t over until you stop searching. If a path to an internship doesn’t present itself to you, carve your own. Even when the situation is dire, don’t give up!


Winnie Heh

Career & Academic Advisor


ASK ME HOW I GOT HIRED – Frances Pao-Fang Chang (MAT ’17, MIIS)


Prior to coming to MIIS, Francis obtained a B.A. in Russian Language and Literature from the National Chengchi University in Taiwan and an MBA from Warsaw University in Poland. She had worked at a Taiwanese-based multinational company for 5 years as a Project Coordinator and Cost Manager before returning to school to pursue her passion for languages.

*How did you find your job?

I found my internship opportunity at the MIIS Career Fair in February of 2016 and became a summer intern at the Star Group office in Thailand for two months in the summer of 2016.

In February, 2017, I received the offer from the same office and moved to Bangkok in July, 2017.

*What experiences at MIIS helped?

With a career management course, career advising sessions, and two major Career Fairs, I was pushed to think about my career early on and prepare for it. Along with the challenging academic programs and strong support network (great people!), I became more confident in job-hunting, which would have otherwise been a daunting task.

*What advice would you share with MIIS students?

Think about a career early on, explore the resources available at MIIS (and beyond) and strive for what really interests you. Do not be discouraged if you make mistakes because these two years of study, in such an encouraging environment, are supposed to be a great time to get to know yourself and make friends for life.

Winnie Heh

Career & Academic Advisor

ASK ME HOW I GOT HIRED – Gaya Saghatelyan (MATLM ’17, MIIS)

Growing up in a multicultural environment, Gaya Saghatelyan has always been passionate about languages and culture. She spoke Russian, Armenian and English at home. In college, Gaya studied Business Administration at a French business school. Between college and MIIS, Gaya worked for a software company in Marketing.  She is now a Project Manager at Lionbridge, the largest language services provider in the world.

*How did you find your job/internship?

I began my journey at Lionbridge as a Sales and Marketing Intern on the IT/High-Tech team. I first learned about the opportunity through an employer information session organized by the MIIS Center for Advising and Career Services office (CACS). When I found out that the internship would give me the opportunity to work with Allison McDougall, VP of Emerging Business and an MIIS alumna, I knew it would be a great learning experience.

Coincidentally, I had met Allison the year before when she presented on an employer panel organized by Winnie Heh, my Career Advisor. At the time, I was helping Winnie organize the event and had the opportunity to network with the panelists. Through getting to know Allison and her work at Lionbridge, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

As an intern, I learned a lot about the industry and Lionbridge’s business and met a lot of interesting people. I eventually wanted to transition into a role in operations, and Allison was extremely supportive in helping me explore opportunities at Lionbridge. She introduced me to a lot of key people and encouraged me to share what I had learned at MIIS with the management team. This was an extremely valuable experience, as I got to apply what I had learned and see how this knowledge plays into the company’s strategy.

Upon graduation, I was offered a full-time position on the Project Management team. I am extremely grateful to CACS for establishing this key partnership with Lionbridge and to Allison for spearheading it.

*What experiences at MIIS helped (career management course, career fair, individual career advice, the MIIS network, coursework, class project, immersive learning experiences)?

As you can see from my personal story, connecting with people played a key role in my career. Winnie Heh, Lee Desser, Bryce Craft and Emily Weidner all put a tremendous amount of effort into organizing useful TILM career events so that we can connect with the industry. In addition, our professors, Max Troyer and Adam Wooten, encouraged us to attend industry events such as IMUG and Women in Localization. These events were a great way to enhance the classroom experience and I continue to attend them as a working professional.

I was also delighted to see that the knowledge we gained in our program is highly applicable to the real world. For example, I often use the documentation and file management best practices we learned in Max Troyer’s Project Management class, as well the marketing tools covered in Adam Wooten’s International Marketing class. I even had the chance to present some of my class projects to my colleagues at Lionbridge.

*What advice would you share with MIIS students?

  1. Keep learning. Learn as much as possible about your industry while you’re at MIIS. It may seem overwhelming or theoretical, but you will take that knowledge with you and make yourself an invaluable asset.
  2. Explore different roles. Don’t limit yourself to only one specialization, because there are so many opportunities out there. Be open-minded about taking on new roles.
  3. Connect with people. It’s a small industry, make genuine connections with people and help your colleagues. Networking is not about pushing your agenda, it’s about learning from others.

Finally, always remember, you are in one of the best programs in the country, if not the world. Your skills are in demand.


Winnie Heh

Career Advisor






Zilin Cui is expected to graduate from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) with a degree in Conference Interpretation. Her language combination is English (A), Chinese (B) and Spanish (C). Prior to coming to MIIS, she has worked as a banking analyst, an assistant economist and an interpreter/translator in Chile. She interned at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington D.C. in summer of 2017.

*How did you find your job/internship?

I applied on the organization’s website after Prof. Barry Slaughter Olsen told us about the opportunity in March. About two months later I was phone interviewed, and a week later I received the offer letter.

*What experiences at MIIS helped (career management course, career fair, individual career advice, the MIIS network, coursework, class project, immersive learning experiences)?

Everything mentioned here helped, to different degrees. I would say individual career advice, DC career week and the MIIS network were the most helpful.

I met with Winnie Heh, my Career Advisor, before my first semester started and I think it was very helpful to hear from her point of view both as a T&I graduate and as someone who has years of experience recruiting and managing language professionals. It gave me a realistic picture of what to expect – I had come with the idea of becoming a UN interpreter and getting an UN internship for the summer but I realized over time that the path is not so straightforward, and that changing directions isn’t admitting defeat but rather embracing new opportunities.

DC career week gave me the opportunity to attend info sessions at international organizations I envisioned myself working for, through which I met interpretation and translation section chiefs and heard from them first-hand what I needed to do get to where I wanted to be. You can find my reflection on the trip here. I highly recommend anyone thinking of working in the States at all to attend – it gives you an idea what to expect once you graduate and reassures you that there is indeed a future after MIIS 🙂

And last but not least – the “MIIS Mafia” is a force to be reckoned with – during my DC trip I met MIIS alums at almost every organization I visited. Every one of them was delighted to see current MIIS students and some were very helpful with specific advice on applying to internships and career planning. Think about what organization you are interested in working/interning for and ask your career advisor/program coordinator if they know of any alum who has worked/is working there. You can research all you want but nothing beats hearing the inside scope, especially if it comes from someone who more likely than not wants to help you!

*What advice would you share with MIIS students?

  • Manage your expectations – this is one of the biggest things I learned both during my internship search and from my internship. I had expected to find an internship by March but did not secure mine until early May, by which time I was pleasantly surprised that I got one. Going into my internship I had ambitious goals of improving my interpretation into all my working languages and produce “audience-ready” interpretation by the end of my 2-month stint and get a return offer. Well, that did not happen and I only focused on one working language, which turned out to be a wiser approach since the same principles and techniques apply to any language pair. Interpreting skills and background knowledge takes years to build up, and it is important to keep that in mind when you feel frustrated with yourself; I certainly have and it is important to take things in perspective and move beyond that. A good internship should be an enriching and humbling experience. To appreciate its value requires us to have the appropriate expectations of ourselves and of the internship to and to distinguish between short-, medium- and long-term goals.
  • Take advantage of every opportunity out there – career fair, DC trip, meeting with your advisor/professors – do not think in terms of “will this land me an internship/job/gig” because that creates unrealistic expectations and unnecessary anxiety. Treat each opportunity as an occasion through which you can learn about the profession and get to know people – network is important in our profession, but approach it not from a utilitarian perspective and instead, think about how you can help each other (thanks Winnie for that advice!)
  • Don’t take things personally – be it feedback, be it the way that someone treated you on a particular day, and this applies to more than the internship or your time at MIIS but on a more general level. The more you are able to detach yourself from the situation, the less likely you will get emotionally involved and use the feedback/learning constructively.

Winnie Heh

Career Advisor



Colleen Feng is expecting to graduate from Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) with an MA degree in Translation and Localization Management in summer of 2018. Prior to coming to MIIS, she earned an MA degree in Teaching English as a Second Language and taught English.  In summer of 2017, she worked as a Localization Intern at Sony Interactive Entertainment PlayStation in California.

*How did you find your job/internship?

I first saw this internship post on LinkedIn, and later it was posted on Zocalo, an online job board at MIIS.

*What experiences at MIIS?

Through taking courses in TLM, I have gained knowledge of localization project management, CAT tools, Python, desktop publishing and translation. Putting all the course names on my resume helped make it more relevant to the localization intern positions I wanted to apply for. I was also able to be more confident during the interviews with concepts of the localization industry in mind. Besides the coursework, I think having individual career meetings with my Career Advisor was the biggest help in securing my internship position. Those one-on-one discussions helped me figure out what internship position I was interested in. My Career Advisor conducted mock interviews with me, connected me with MIIS alumni, revised my resume and helped me polish my professional presence.

*What advice would you share with MIIS students?

The most important lesson I’ve learned during my first year at MIIS is to always be open to different opportunities and never stop stepping out of my comfort zone. I personally think MIIS is a great place to meet people from all over the world, and it’s been rewarding for me to not simply focus on the coursework, but also to meet new friends and try things I’ve never tried before. In the professional aspect, attending localization conferences and events have helped me learn more about the localization industry and build my network in the localization industry.


Winnie Heh

Career Advisor


Trait Trees for LSP Project Managers

MIIS alumna, Sijing Yu (MATLM ‘16) won the GALA 2017 Rising Star Award. I am thrilled to share the  winning essay on my blog.  Congrats, Sijing!  We are proud of you!

Winnie Heh

Career & Academic Advisor

Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

MIIS DC Career Exploration Week Reflection

I had a fruitful time participating in the DC Exploration Week as a first-year T&I student (English-Chinese-Spanish). I only attended four information sessions in my field of study since the rest are only open to citizens/permanent residents or are non-language related: the Inter-American Development Bank, Organization of American States, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. I also attended the reception on Thursday night at the MIIS DC office. Since my dream is to one day become a staff interpreter at an international organization, the trip was very informative and valuable. I learned a lot through the info sessions that I would like to share here.

First of all, it was very encouraging to see so many of our alumni in these international organizations. All of the info sessions I went to had MIIS alumni on their staff. They were very happy to see current students thinking about their careers early on. I only wish there were more MIIS students from the T&I program! We have a relatively large program, but the info sessions had no more than 15 attendees at a time and from only one or two language programs, which was a bit disappointing given how much work the organizations put into organizing the sessions for us.

Attending info sessions is one of the best ways to research about the organizations. Our hosts were translation section chiefs, HR directors, senior program managers, among others. Their hour-long info sessions usually stretched to an hour and a half, and in some cases two hours, as they gave us crash courses on their organization and how their language unit works (and some even showed us the booths!). Some of them even gave us answers to questions that we may be asked in interviews.  Although I put a few hours into researching the organizations prior to attending, nothing came close to being as helpful as talking to people who actually work there. The alums were especially cordial and some gave us their contact information.

It’s a long and winding road to becoming a staff interpreter/translator at an international organization, and our best way to proceed is to hear early how to prepare from the staff. As I discovered during the past few days, in-house opportunities at international organizations are few and getting fewer (due to budget cuts proposed by the new administration, and the growing trend of outsourcing around 70% of their translation and interpretation work). There is also a gap between most students’ professional capacity and the level required for international organizations, which look for mid-career professionals. So here comes the catch-22 regarding experience: how do you get experience when nobody wants to hire you if you don’t have any? Fortunately, there is a way out. Our alums at the World Bank (WB) specifically pointed out that we need in order to (1) get our foot in the door, (2) have specialized knowledge in a field (or more) other than languages, and (3) get the right kind of exposure.

Regarding (1): one of the alumni started as an assistant photo editor at one of the international organizations on a short-term contract, and another worked on aligning texts. At first, they were not thrilled about having graduated from MIIS and having to do something unrelated to their training and aspirations, but they stuck with it, let the higher ups know about their core skills, and eventually got the positions they wanted.

Regarding (2): with 70% of the T&I work outsourced, the language departments at international organizations are functioning less like translation/interpretation teams and more like LSPs within their own organizations. For example, one of the biggest “requesters” (in WB lingo) for WB’s language services is ICSID (International Center for the Settlement of Trade Disputes, part of the World Bank Group), and the translation chief emphasized that they look for people who can work at the conference level, bi-directionally, and with specialized knowledge in economics and law. The specialized knowledge does not have to come from formal training – reading books, researching, and teaching ourselves is an essential part of being a good translator/interpreter.

Regarding (3): for students with no experience in the field, volunteering can be a good start. TED has subtitling opportunities and Translators Without Borders offer a chance to practice language skills while contributing to a good cause. Gradually, one should aim for higher profile work (the T&I world is very small and word of mouth matters a lot). It is also important to get to know the chief interpreters/translators (the people at the international organizations who staff their events and translation teams) – sending résumés and asking about freelance opportunities is a good way to make initial contact, since these organizations are constantly seeking to expand their rosters. Some will give tests (in which case, do not shy away!) and some will rely on recommendations by senior professionals they have worked with before, so it is important to start early and build a portfolio.

Lastly, skills other than translation/interpretation itself are becoming increasingly important. Many international organizations are working with CAT tools (many of them are transitioning to the UN’s own CAT-tool, eLUNA), and they recommend getting familiar with as many kinds as possible. Terminology management is also important – although it seems like no organization aside from WIPO looks for terminologists, these organizations expect translators and interpreters to contribute to terminology management. Being able to work in teams is indispensable – translation departments at international organizations process over a dozen million words per year, and to be a successful translator, one has to know how to collaborate with colleagues (in addition to working under tight deadlines, being meticulous about details, and being able to revise their own work, among others).

Personally, I found the info sessions very helpful – I had already applied to internships at two of the organizations by the time I attended the sessions, and since international organizations tend to move very slowly, it was also my chance to express my interest and gently nudge them to look out for my application.

Final advice I have to future attendees:

  • Use the student & alumni reception as a great networking opportunity. Exchange your cards with your friends/classmates so you can work more efficiently (wish I thought of this earlier!). Plus, looking out for each other is not just the right thing to do; it will bring good professional “karma”.
  • Showing up is half the success. Try to go if you have an opportunity. How else would you stand out among the thousands of applicants to the few dozens of internship opportunities? Once you can have them put a face to a name, you are already ahead of the game.
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions and talk with the presenters after the info session. The organizers appreciate thoughtful questions, and especially if they are MIIS alumni, they want to see you succeed.
  • Of course, dress professionally and think of yourself as a young professional. Don’t feel intimidated (guilty as charged but I will improve next year)!

Zilin Cui

MACI 2018

Middlebury Institute of International

Studies at Monterey

I Took the Career Management Class. Now What?

Dear T, TI, and CI Students:

Happy New Year! And welcome back! I hope you have had a productive Winter Break. I had a wonderful time visiting relatives and friends in Sichuan, China and Taiwan. I am back, ready for another great year.

I would like to say THANK YOU to the students from my Career Management class last semester. Eight-four percent of you responded to the class evaluation compared with 50% from last year. I value your feedback as it helps me zero in on how to better support you. Your comments pointed out you have the following needs after the completion of the Career Management class.

I. Information:

Particular positions in the T&I business world

Specific companies and organizations as employers

What people in certain positions do.

Employer expectations

II. Practice:

Opportunity to practice interviews

Practice the skills learned in class

Practice networking and elevator pitch

III. Others:

How to access alumni

Learn more about Career Fair

If you would like more information or practice, please see me. Given that you come from diverse background with various career aspirations, I am happy to work on a personalized plan to tackle your specific needs. I told you in our first class that I am your “personal trainer.” This is the time to put it into practice!

2nd year students, this offer is extended to you as well.

I look forward to working with you.


Winnie Heh

Career & Academic Advisor


My CAT Story

When I was a translation student at MIIS in the late 80’s, the concept of “localization” as a service provided by language professionals never came up in our training – I am from the “pre-L10N” era.  I did not come into contact with Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) until 2008 when my employer acquired a language services provider (LSP), Lingo Language Services, now named LanguageLine Translation Solutions (LLTS) in Portland, OR.  LLTS’ core competency was and still is software localization.  Having spent close to 20 years of my career in the LSP space focusing on remote interpretation, I found myself having to learn the new language of localization – file preparation, translation memory, translation management system, term base, and CAT.  I also found myself managing as many engineers as I did project managers.  For the next 6 years, I would work with the LLTS team on selection of tools and measurement of operating efficiency thanks to these tools, but I never had the time or mind share to actually learn and use them.  This is why as soon as I could start taking classes as a MIIS employee, I chose to take Adam Wooten’s CAT class.

Though Adam Wooten’s class is named “Introduction to CAT”, its scope reaches beyond introduction to various CAT tools. It is an excellent introduction to language technology including CAT tools, machine translation & post-editing, controlled languages & authoring, interpretation technology, as well as numerous tips and insights regarding the business of translation.

Leveraging Hands-on Learning of CAT Tools

The aspect of the class that I was most interested in was the hands-on use of CAT tools. As Adam Wooten stated in the syllabus, this is about knowing “how to complete basic linguistics-focused functions in SDL Trados Studio 2015 including but not limited to translation memory creation, reuse of previous translations, terminology management, quality assurance, and translation editing according to best practices.”   My objective was to learn the functionalities of a typical CAT tool, and thereby enable myself to learn other CAT tools with efficiency in the future.  To my delight, our class had a “Learning How to Learn a CAT Tool” component.  The learning objective was understanding “different components of SDL Trados Suite 2015 well enough to learn a completely new CAT tool on one’s own.”   Equipped with my knowledge of Trados, I was able to learn memoQ effectively on my own as an assignment.

Machine Translation

The class on machine translation (MT) and post-editing was another fascinating experience.   We reviewed and compared rule-based MT and statistical MT.  Tanya Badeka and Juan Rowda, both of eBay, spoke to us on how eBay utilizes MT and post-editing to manage accuracy given the tremendous daily volume of work.  The recent announcement of Google neutral machine translation (NMT) added to the depth of our discussions and debates in class.  Our discussion on voice-to-voice machine interpretation heightened my awareness of the role voice recognition tools may play to expedite file preparation and translation output.  In my final project, I saved file preparation time by 75% by using the speech to text input method rather than word processing in Chinese.  I plan to experiment with using sight translation for production in the future.

Will MT Replace Human Translation?

MT is here to stay and scientists will continue to make improvements to it. Will MT replace translators?  The answer is:  It has already replaced some.  According to Tanya Badeka and Juan Rowda, eBay’s in-house Linguists train MT systems rather than translate.  Will MT replace translators completely?  Not likely.  MT scientists agree that there are still significant obstacles to be overcome and it is not for lack of available computing power.  The upside is MT will create new positions.  In a presentation at the American Translators Association in November, 2017, Jay Marciano listed the following positions that will be created thanks to AI:

– Translation Technology Expert

– Language Technology Analyst

– Language Process Analyst

– Machine Learning Supervisor

– Machine Learning Evaluator

– Language/Communication Analyst

– Semantic Analyst

– Translation Quality Assessor

– Data Collector

– Data Scientist

– Data Curator

– Terminologist

– Corpus Linguist

– Computational Linguist

– Premium Translators

– Premium Interpreter

Lessons Learned From Final Assignment

Our final project was to simulate a real-life translation/localization project. Here is my project overview:


Here is an example of the Chinese source text file provided by the client in PDF format which is not in a translatable file format in Trados and the MS Word file as the output from a voice to text exercise. What I estimated to be a 2-hour data entry exercise was completed in 30 minutes by using voice to text input method.


Here are my lessons learned.


Was it Worth the Investment of Time?

I have been asked: “You are not likely to be looking for a job as a translator or a localization project manager.  Why are you investing the time to learn CAT?”  First of all, I wanted to have hands-on CAT experience for translation projects in my own multilingual family, a goal that I expected to achieve and have achieved. As a Career Advisor, I am always thinking about how I can best position my students to employers.  This class gave me more up-to-date and specific concepts and language to do so.

What I did not expect was how out of my comfort zone I was. On reflection, I realized that the excellent IT support I received at work and, indeed, at home has put me out of touch with basic trouble-shooting knowledge and skills.  What used to be a blessing became a challenge when I had to handle tools hands-on.  While my classmates were zipping through their class exercise, I was trying to find the file types.  This class was a growth opportunity.

I cannot say enough about how wonderful our Professor Adam Wooten is. He is clearly a practitioner in the field day in and day out who is excellent at making his insights accessible to the students.  His commitment to the students is commendable.  He met with every one of his more than 100 students at the start of the semester and he had every team formally present their sales proposal to him for their final project.  As a Career Advisor, I especially appreciate the career management tips that he so generously worked into his presentations.  I am grateful for having the opportunity to take this class almost 30 years after I graduated from MIIS.


Winnie Heh

Career & Academic Advisor