Cheng-Hao Yang’s Journey as a Freelance Localization Expert and Linguist

Middlebury Institute graduates discuss where they are working today, how the Institute helped them get there, and what advice they’d give to current and future MIIS students. This post was first published in Chinese and was translated into English through the collaboration between Jimmy Yang (MATLM 2020) and Sue Su (MATLM 2025)

My name is Cheng-Hao “Jimmy” Yang and I graduated with an MA degree in Translation and Localization Management from the Middlebury Institute in 2020. My language pair is Mandarin Chinese and English. I interned with LanguageLine Solutions in Monterey, California, and  I am now a freelance translation/localization expert and linguist based in Taipei, Taiwan, ready to make a grand return to the US loc industry should there be the opportunity and VISA support for international talents.

In summer of 2019, my friend Cody Connell and my Career Advisor Winnie Heh referred me to an internship with LanguageLine Solutions. It was a great opportunity where I got to experience an actual US work environment. Plus, I got to utilize the programming knowledge I learned  in our TLM’s Python & Javascript class. My supervisor introduced me to some interesting functions such as pandas for Python that can help us process data in Excel sheet. To a linguist like me, it was truly magical to see what programming can do with the right tool and command.

After graduation, I started off  as a Localization  Project Manager (LPM) on the vendor side including Lilt and Supertext USA. After that, I secured a client side LPM role at DoorDash that exposed me to  LPM tasks that  are vastly different from the vendor side organizations. Through it all,  I continued to pursue my original career goal as a translator/linguist. It wasn’t easy, but I was able to establish  solid relationships with a couple of LSPs. Today, I am still working as a freelance localization expert and linguist with clients including Supertext USA, Lockit QA, Smartling, and Terra Translations, helping them to translate all sorts of content should zh-TW be in scope.

My best advice for current students is:

1. Start searching as early as possible.

2. Make your presence and interests known to people around you so they will think of you when they see an opportunity that may be a match for you.

3. Expect a lot of ghosting and failures: Overall, the job market is challenging for job-seekers and you can feel it as you explore the opportunities. In addition, you have to understand that as an international talent, VISA support could be dragging you down as it requires extra resources/work from the employer.

4. Listen to feedback/comment and improve upon it accordingly: Translation can be a very subjective thing once we pass a certain threshold. As a linguist, you’re going to be turned down by LSPs without any particular reason A LOT. Sometimes, despite your hard work on the translation test, the LSPs would just tell you that they choose not to move forward with your application. Or worse, your translation is reviewed by an automated system and its grading criteria is not “optimized” in your favor. It doesn’t necessarily mean you do not have the skills, but moving forward, it’s best for you to collect as much feedback/comment and save the test file for your own future reference

我叫楊承浩,也可以叫我Jimmy Yang。2020年,我在明德大学蒙特雷国际研究学院获得翻译和本地化管理硕士学位,学习的外语是英语。我曾在位于美国加州蒙特雷的一家语言解决方案公司LanguageLine Solutions实习。目前我住在台北,是自由职业翻译兼本地化服务专家。

2019年夏天,我的朋友Cody Connell和MIIS的职业顾问贺永中(Winnie Heh)老师推荐我去LanguageLine实习。这个机会特别好,不仅让我体验了美国的工作环境,我在MIIS的Python和JavaScript编程课上学到的知识也得到了运用。实习期间,主管带我认识了一些有用的编程函数,例如Python的pandas数据分析库,可以帮助处理Excel表格数据。只要工具合适,指令得当,编程就可以发挥如此强大的效用,我身为语言专业的学生,着实大开眼界。

刚毕业时,我主要担任语言服务供应商的本地化项目经理,先后就职Lilt和Supertext USA两家公司。后来我又到知名餐饮外卖软件公司DoorDash担任甲方本地化项目经理,经手了不同类型的项目管理任务。在供应商和客户两方工作,职责任务大不相同。工作期间,我一直坚持最初的职业发展目标,做好翻译和语言专家的工作,努力培养牢固的业内人脉关系。如今,我仍然是一名自由职业本地化与语言服务专家,为Supertext USA、Lockit QA、Smartling、Terra Translations等多家客户提供各类内容的翻译服务。

1. 尽早展开搜索,寻找机会。

2. 向身边的人介绍自己的身份和兴趣,他们有相关机会时才会想起你。

3. 投递无果、落选是家常便饭,要做好心理准备,坚持到底(如果你是国际学生,雇主还需要考虑签证问题)。

4. 倾听反馈和评价,按建议改进;达到一定水平后,翻译可能要考虑相当主观的要求。

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