“The Professionalization Seminar changed my life. It gave me a framework for presenting myself, the vocabulary and how to use it in organizing a job search. Not only that, but being able to be reflective and take a moment to figure out what you are passionate about, what you actually want to do. I feel like you go through college thinking that you have a major and you have to fit a cookie cutter, but this class gives you a chance to make it work for you!”
— Renee Tomlin (MLC ’11)
Often when people hear that we are linguists, they say “Oh, so you speak lots of languages!” When they immediately jump to career, if not actually saying “What are you going to do with that?!”, they will offer something along the lines of: “Are you an interpreter?” or “You must be very good at editing” or “Are you going to teach?”.
To this, I draw from my improv background to say, “Yes, and!”
Yes, as linguists, we do tend to speak more than one language. Yes, many of us do find work as teachers, interpreters and translators, and we do tend to be gifted writers and editors, but this is just the tip of the iceberg to our value in professional contexts! AND….
The MLC Professionalization Seminar is designed to help MLC students figure out where the skills and training that they are acquiring in their classes are needed and valued professionally. It is also designed to help students learn about what motivates them, to uncover values around work, and ultimately to enact the shift to an active professional stance from “What should I do?” to “Here’s what I can do!”
See an example of a student’s final portfolio of items from the Proseminar, Spring 2013
The class is structured as a dynamic mix of lecture, discussion, and activity-based interaction. Students develop an understanding of professional applications of sociolinguistics through readings, lectures and presentations by guest lecturers who themselves engage with the question of combining sociolinguistic theory and practice. Students select a field of professional interest on which to focus for the duration of the class and conduct ethnographic research on organizations of interest in order to develop targeted portfolio materials (resume, cover letter, elevator pitch, online portfolio, etc. etc. etc). Students network at professional events, attend Career Fairs and conduct informational interviews to practice the skill of clearly articulating where their skills and training combine with their interests and values in a chosen workplace setting.