The global coronavirus outbreak, the lockdown, the volatility in the financial market and the sudden spike in unemployment are taking place in March, 2020 when job search for 2020 graduates should be taking place in earnest. My thoughts immediately went to my MIIS students. These events are not of their making and are out of their control, but will likely impact their job search. I turned to several industry veterans for them to share some words of wisdom.
The first episode of my podcast “How to Navigate Job Search Amid Uncertainty” was a conversation with Frank Perry during the first week of the “shelter in place” order in California. Frank has 40 years of experience in Human Resources across several industries and has experienced several downturns. Please click below to listen to his insights.
Growing up in a multicultural environment, Gaya Saghatelyan has always been passionate about languages and culture. In college, Gaya studied Business Administration at a French business school. As an undergraduate student, she worked for the Embassy of Switzerland in Armenia as an in-house translator and interpreter (English/French/Russian/Armenian) — that’s how she discovered her passion for the language profession. Upon graduation, Gaya decided to leave the language industry and start a career in business administration. But not for long. After a year of working for a software company based in Los Angeles, she began to feel that something was missing in her career and decided to “go back to her roots,” as she puts it. Gaya is currently pursuing an MA in Translation and Localization Management, where she combines her passion for languages, technology and business.
This summer, Gaya did a 3-month Localization Program Management internship at Autodesk, a 3D design software company based in San Rafael. Gaya talked about her experience at Autodesk during my Career Management class. I did a follow up interview with her to learn more about the internship.
Q1: What were your top 3 criteria as you selected your internship(s)?
Location: I looked for an internship in the US and abroad. I was especially interested in doing an internship in France to practice my B language and learn from a different business culture. On the other hand, I wanted to expose myself to software localization, and the Bay Area was perfect for that.
LSP or Client: I wanted to gain experience in project/ program management working for an LSP, because it offers a versatile learning environment. I also wanted to explore software localization and experience what it would be like to work for a big company.
The environment: In the process of interviewing for different internships, I paid attention to the overall dynamic and atmosphere between myself and the hiring manager. It was important to me that the company (and the hiring manager) have specific objectives for the internship and an internship plan. I wanted to make sure that the hiring manager could be my mentor.
Q2: What did you learn about your field during your internship?
I learned that localization can sometimes be perceived as a cost center, therefore one of the most important roles of a program manager in localization is to control cost, evangelize localization best-practices and create a long-lasting relationship with stakeholders.
In addition, I learned that software localization is evolving rapidly in response to changes in software development practices. The cadence of software localization is strongly dependent on the software release cycle, which requires localization teams to adopt a continuous localization strategy.
Finally, as a localization program manager, your role is very diverse: from cost management to vendor communication, from knowledge management to stakeholder analysis — there’s never a dull day!
Q3:What did you learn about yourself during your internship?
During my internship I discovered, once again, that human interaction and collaboration are very important to me. I also learned that I thrive in a dynamic environment where I can learn new things and work with different teams. Lastly, I realized that although I didn’t particularly enjoy accounting and finance in college, I love numbers! Anytime I was faced with a new task or wanted to understand how a project was structured, I turned to the data.
Q4: From the employers’ perspective what does a good intern look like?
A good intern takes initiative to benefit from the experience and contribute to the team. As an intern, you may think you don’t have a lot to contribute, but you do! A good intern observes and asks questions with the purpose of understanding the business and contributing fresh insights. A good intern also interacts with everyone on the team and takes initiative to become a part of the company culture.
Q5: Any words of wisdom you would like to share?
These are things that I think made my internship successful and I hope they will help students during their future internships:
Find a mentor: Work closely with your manager and express interest in projects.
Be open to new opportunities: You may be set on a specific career path you want to pursue, but you never know where the road may take you! Be open to exploring new opportunities.
Use what you learn at MIIS: I didn’t know all the tools and processes when I started my internship, but what I learned during my first year at MIIS taught me to think like a localization manager.
Do a final presentation: At the end of your internship, ask your Manager for a review of your work and suggest doing a final presentation for the team you worked with. This will leave a lasting impression on your team and showcase, once again, your growth throughout the summer.
Stay in touch: Make connections with everyone at the company and stay in touch! Don’t underestimate the power of human interaction.
Do you have a question for Gaya? You can connect with her via LinkedIn or reach her at saghatelyan.gayane(at)gmail.com
–Winnie Heh Career & Academic Advisor firstname.lastname@example.org
After attending the American Translators Association (ATA) Annual Conferences for 20-plus years as an interpreter and an LSP executive, ATA 2015 was the first one that I attended as the Career and Academic Advisor for the Translation, Translation & Interpretation, and Conference Interpretation MA Programs at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS). I was scheduled to be at our booth on the first day of the conference with Dean Renee Jourdenais of the Graduate School of Translation, Interpretation and Language Education at MIIS. It turned out to be an extremely gratifying day for me hearing from the employers.
The day started with Celeste Bergold of the U.S. Department of State stopping by to tell us how much she valued our graduates. She said she was particularly impressed by how they “hit the ground running” and didn’t need to be told things more than once. She also noted their strong professional ethics and collaborative skills. Unsolicited, several other employers came by to praise our graduates. Some key phrases used were:
“Dedicated and quick learners”
“Great project managers”
“Best professional knowledge, skills and ethics”
“Focus on quality”
An educator told our students at our alumni reception: “You are in the right program. It is tough, but rigorous. Anyone who wants to do anything with languages should go to Monterey.”
Another educator said to Dean Jourdenais: “You are the standard and we aspire to be you.”
I sat down with Dean Jourdenais after returning from the conference to review the feedback that we had received.
WH: Renee, thank you for making the time to meet with me for this short interview.
RJ: My pleasure.
WH: Tell me about how you felt when you heard all those unsolicited compliments?
RJ: It’s really gratifying to hear how employers feel about our graduates, and particularly notable that they feel this so strongly that they seek us out to tell us! It certainly leads me to return to the Institute with a renewed sense of purpose and the comforting feeling that we’re on the right track and training people appropriately for their careers.
WH: I have heard the term “the Monterey method of teaching”. Could you please explain that and how much do you think it contributes to the great performance of our graduates?
RJ: This is an intriguing term because I don’t think there’s any one particular way of teaching here. Different faculty certainly have different approaches to training, but I do believe that what unites them is their commitment to ensuring that our graduates are people that they’ll want to work with. After all, our students become our colleagues very quickly! The faculty are all active in the field, they KNOW what skills are needed and are able to share this real world, real time knowledge with the students. They’re also exceptional instructors. It’s quite a gift to have talented practitioners who are also talented teachers and are able to share their skills and knowledge as they train the next generation. We’re really fortunate and this leads us to be able to offer exceptional professional training to our students.
WH: Thanks again for sharing your thoughts with me. I am sure our students and alumni appreciate your insights.
–Winnie Heh Career & Academic Advisor