How Two Degrees in Japanese Literature Translated Into a Localization Career – A Conversation With Jamie Cox

Jamie Cox
Jamie Cox is a Localization Producer at Blizzard Entertainment with years of experience on both the vendor and client sides of the localization industry. His October 2020 post on LinkedIn was on an issue near and dear to my heart – with two degrees in Japanese literature, how he “stumbled” into localization and how liberal arts and foreign language skills can translate into a successful career outside the classroom. I am always on the lookout for role models for language students, hence this conversation on lessons learned in navigating his career path.

Q: Please tell us about what sparked your interest in Japanese literature.

In high school, my family hosted an exchange student from Japan for a couple of weeks. This student taught me about Japanese culture and sparked my interest. I then was able to visit him in Japan a year later and I fell more in love with Japanese culture and the language. Japanese literature was the available major at my undergrad university (University of Montana), and so that’s where my passion for Japanese literature began.

Q: You used the word “stumble” in describing how you got into localization. How did it happen?

After graduating with my MA in Japanese Literature from Portland State University and moving to California, I didn’t know what to do next. A friend suggested I do some freelance translating for a company called Gengo. I noticed Gengo had an office close to where I was living at the time, and I reached out to see if they had any internships available. As luck would have it, they were looking for a project management intern at the time. That was over seven years ago, and I’ve been a localization project manager ever since!

Q: Have your two degrees in Japanese literature helped you in your career in localization? In what ways?

In the localization industry, it’s definitely a plus to know an additional language, even if you don’t actually use it for your own work. In my case, my knowledge of the Japanese language helped me secure the internship at Gengo, because Gengo is a Japanese company with its main office in Tokyo. In a practical sense at work, I don’t often use Japanese, but in the past I have occasionally done a quick check to make sure characters are appearing correctly in a delivery, or line breaks are accurate, those small types of things that every project manager will do from time to time.

Q: In addition to one’s language skills and cultural knowledge, are there any additional skills that can help one’s career in the localization industry?

I think soft skills that one tends to learn from education around language  (like foreign language learning or other liberal arts degrees) help tremendously in being able to accurately and easily convey information, either written or verbal. Additionally – at least for project managers – organization and documentation is paramount, so learning how to stay organized in your personal life will help you in your professional one as well.

Q: Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently in terms of managing your career?

The more you can offer to a company in terms of the skills you bring to the table, the better. There have been times I’ve wanted to streamline or modify a workflow but haven’t had the technical knowledge to do so, whether through Excel macros, database queries with SQL, or something similar. If I could do things differently, I would try to focus on cultivating some of those more technical skills to be a more well-rounded project manager.

Q: What is the best career advice you have ever received?

The most important thing to know about the localization industry is that it is a small one – you never know when the person you worked with (and hopefully made a great impression on) will pop back up later on in your career. Networking is very important, and so is making sure you’re always putting your best foot forward at work. We work in a great industry with amazing people from all over the world, so be sure to enjoy the connections you make.

Winnie Heh

Career Advisor


This Is What Worked For Me – How XingChen Hu Approached Job Search Amid A Pandemic

There is no way to sugarcoat this – the job market is challenging for 2020 graduates. According to a USA Today report on August 8th, 2020, “the unemployment rate in the United States stood at 11.1% as of June. While this is a marked improvement from the 14.7% jobless rate in April, it is still higher than at any time in at least the last 70 years. In some U.S. cities – many of which are major economic hubs – the unemployment crisis is far worse than it is nationwide.”

As we shine a spotlight on the language industry, however, we are seeing some promising signs. Slator reported on August  6th, 2020, “the language industry job market is stabilizing after plunging in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Slator Language Industry Job Index (LIJI).” Slator further indicated that “prior to Covid-19, the LIJI started off slow in January 2020, but quickly bounced back with a record high in February 2020. August 2020 is the first month that the LIJI recorded an increase since March 2020, likely due to the ripple effects of Covid-related lockdowns around the world during the five months prior.”

In March, April and May, MIIS students and alumni reported hiring freezes, cancellations of internships and layoffs. The number of interviews I heard about slowed to a trickle. I started to hear more about interviews in late June and July although far from the level I saw in previous years during the same months. In late July and now in August, I have heard good news of May 2020 graduates receiving more than one offers. The main point here is: job search, no doubt, is difficult this year, but the job market is not completely dry.

This is why I decided to interview Xingchen Hu (MATLM 2020) for the first episode of my “This Is What Worked For Me” podcast. I hope how she managed the challenges and her subsequent success in her job search can help those who are still going through the process. Thank you, Xingchen, for sharing your learnings to lift others up.

How To Navigate Job Search Amid Uncertainty – A Conversation With Jon Ritzdorf

This podcast is my conversation with Jon Ritzdorf.  

Jon is a fellow graduate from MIIS who is a Senior Solutions Architect at RWS Moravia and an Adjunct Professor at MIIS, NYU and University of Maryland. I have always been very impressed by his industry insights, generosity towards students and his overall positivity. After he shared his career ups and downs with me, including the difficult timing of moving to New York City 2 months after the 911 attacks in 2001, I thought to myself: “Boy! Those were hard knocks. How did he recover from those setbacks and how does he maintain his positive outlook?” Hence this podcast.

How To Navigate Job Search Amid Uncertainty – A Conversation With Lorena Ortiz Schneider

The 6th episode of “How to Navigate Job Search Amid Uncertainty” is a conversation with MIIS alumna, Lorena Ortiz Schneider. The social distancing order imposed to combat the spread of coronavirus has had a severe impact on work opportunities for interpreters. On-site interpretation has been especially hard hit.

Given that many of my MIIS students aspire to a freelance interpreter career, I was particularly interested in Lorena’s perspective as a freelancer herself and as someone whose business works with freelance interpreters day in and day out. She pointed out that downturns can take a variety of forms from the macro-economic environment, to professional challenges, to personal setbacks and provided many heart-felt and practical suggestions.

How To Navigate Job Search Amid Uncertainty – A Conversation With Diane Mouradian

The 5th episode of “How to Navigate Job Search Amid Uncertainty” is a conversation with Diane Mouradian on how we can care for our emotional well-being overall and for those going through job search while the world is grappling with the pandemic. Diane is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a nationally certified Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapist.

This is week 4 of the “shelter in place” order in California during the 2020 coronavirus outbreak and as of now a third of the global population is on coronavirus lockdown. This is no doubt an event of global proportion affecting us professionally and personally.

My key takeaways:

  • Acknowledge the stressors
  • Minimize negative triggers/increase positive triggers
  • Focus on what is within your control
  • Stay connected with others

How To Navigate Job Search Amid Uncertainty – A Conversation With Michael Klinger

Episode Four of “How To Navigate Job Search Amid Uncertainty” is my conversation with Michael Klinger, Managing Director of Anzu Global. Michael is a 30-year veteran in the language services industry. After starting his career as an interpreter, he went into staffing services and facilitating mergers and acquisitions in the language industry. In the interview, he shared his experience managing through previous economic downturns and strategies on job search at a time of economic uncertainty. 

How To Navigate Job Search Amid Uncertainty – A Conversation With Kathleen Diamond

Episode Three of “How To Navigate Job Search Amid Uncertainty” is my conversation with Kathleen Diamond, a language industry veteran who has founded and managed businesses in language teaching, translation and interpretation. In the interview, she shared how she became an entrepreneur and how she identified needs in the market to reinvent her businesses amid economic uncertainty. 

How To Navigate Job Search Amid Uncertainty – A Conversation With Matt Conger & Johnathan Rechtman

Episode Two of my podcast “How to Navigate Job Search Amid Uncertainty” was a conversation with Matt Conger, CEO of Cadence Translate and Johnathan Rechtman, Co-founder of Cadence Translate and a conference interpreter. The year was 2008. Matt was a new MBA and Johnathan had just graduated from college. They shared how they reimagined their careers and lessons learned amid the Great Recession.

How To Navigate Job Search Amid Uncertainty – A Conversation With Frank Perry

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.