Alexander Alyakrinskiy (MATLM 2017) is a Localization Program Manager at Fitbit. Before attending MIIS he worked as a Foreign Language Instructor, Linguist and Localization Analyst. I was intrigued by his observations on the crucial role that one’s temperament plays in their success. Here is our conversation.
In our recent conversation, you brought up the topic of how to align one’s skills and temperament with specific roles in the localization industry. Can you talk about how you arrived at this idea?
As a program manager I interact with a variety of stakeholders on a daily basis including language specialists and l10n engineers. I noticed how certain temperaments help people to succeed in a specific role (ex. vendor management and engineering) and align with their type of communication.
Could you please give us some examples of skills/temperament types and the types of roles that are good fits for them?
I came across many project/program managers who do not have a strong linguistic background, but possess well developed interpersonal communication skills. Being able to adjust and staying flexible in difficult and sometimes frustrating situations is more important in this area of l10n.
The rare and well desired mix is a localization engineer. They tend to be on the introverted side but have difficulty using soft skills and can’t handle multitasking.
It came as a surprise to me that many language specialists within tech are introverts and enjoy focusing on the language as opposed to communication with stakeholders and project management.
How did you figure out your skills/temperament and how did you find the right role to match your skills/temperament?
For me it came with experience and wasn’t a straightforward path. I got to work on the vendor side and have experience as a language specialist. I really enjoy puzzles and I am stimulated by complex projects. I got my job as program manager at Fitbit right after graduation from MIIS and I realized that I enjoy the amount of responsibility and interactions with stakeholders. Brining people and ideas together and translating them into a localized product is something I really enjoy. I face daily challenges on a bigger scale and have to make decisions independently using sound judgement and direct the resources to make things happen.
What advice would you give to TLM students in terms of how they can approach this exploration process?
My advice to the students is to apply for internships and learn about different roles and their daily responsibilities within the company. Also, self-assessment and understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses is crucial in defining the right role in the future workplace. I’ve seen many students so desperately trying to apply for project/program management role to only realize that it requires way too much interaction and ambiguity they didn’t expect and can’t handle. There should be a clear understanding that program/project management isn’t about language and creative side of it per se. It’s about bringing people and resources together, analyzing risks and forecasting the budget which requires marketing and analytical skills.
Winnie Heh, Career Advisor
Middlebury Institute of International Studies