Linguistics in Action: Company Profiles

Linguists can (and do!) work across a variety of fields, many of which rely significantly upon knowledge of language and communication to ensure success. Below are some profiles of companies that hire and liaise with linguists in the critical fields of education, government, law, not-for-profit research, and healthcare.

Please also browse this more comprehensive list of organizations we have on our radar.

Education

Center for Inspired Teaching

From their website: The programs offered by Center for Inspired Teaching are designed to “decrease time teachers spend dealing with discipline problems; increase teaching time; improve teachers’ ability to think critically and solve problems, so they can do the same for their students, resulting in higher student achievement in school and in life; improve the emotional climate of teachers’ classrooms so children feel safe and can focus on learning, resulting in improvements in behavior and a change in students’ life aspirations.”

The staff of the Center is highly interdisciplinary and includes linguists.

Institute for International Education

Their mission: “Promoting closer educational relations between the people of the United States and those of other countries. Strengthening and linking institutions of higher learning globally. Rescuing threatened scholars and advancing academic freedom.  Building leadership skills and enhancing the capacity of individuals and organizations to address local and global challenges.” When asked about the most important skill to have to work at IIE, CEO Allan Goodman responded: “when I first began this job, I would have said that it was familiarity with government operations, but now after being here 10 years, I would say that it is Intercultural skills. You have to know how to relate to people from other countries, know the assumptions that are behind questions that you ask.   Having International experience is key (with the Peace Corps, study abroad, deep immersion)”

Opening Doors Diversity Project

From their website: “The Diversity Project provides long-term support to organizations committed to integrating partnership ideals into the organizations.  Services include comprehensive consultation around diversity management, organizational development, change management and strategic planning. The research based frameworks that inform these services are based upon oppression theory, social identity development, organizational development, change management, multicultural education, second language acquisition, interpretation, and translation.”  In conversation with Kathy Castania, one of their consultants, the study of linguistics would provide good training for this work, because “the best preparation is understanding the power of words to help people to navigate through past learning without blame, using words that allow people to express what they are feeling without being critical.”

The Diversity Training Group

The Diversity Training Group continues to act as innovator and leader in organizational improvement. DTG features lively, interactive and results-driven workshops; comprehensive solutions; and realistic, proven methods for organizational change. Provides consulting and training in areas such as Diversity in the Workplace, Multicultural/Diversity Marketing, Cross Cultural Communication and Mediation.

Training Resources Group

Training Resources Group provides organizational development and training services to public, private, and international organizations.  The goal of our work is to support our clients’ efforts to improve performance and achieve business results through activities such as building effective work teams and developing leadership and management Skills.

Gap International, Inc.

Gap International, Inc. is a consulting firm that partners with executives and their organizations. Programs provide an unusual, multidimensional interplay of training and development, coaching and consulting. On their website: “We are currently searching for individuals with either a graduate or undergraduate degree in linguistics, or coursework and a keen interest in the field. Candidates would be involved in our research and product development and be part of our dynamic and growing professional team of management consultants.”  The founder and CEO, Pontish Yeramyan, has an MA in linguistics, and the company lists “linguistics” as a field a potential consultant might have.

Turnitin

Turnitin is recognized worldwide as the standard in online plagiarism prevention. It helps educators and students take full advantage of the Internet’s educational potential.

Government

Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs

Drawing from her dissertation work in immigration and her field training as an ethnographer, Cecilia Castillo Ayometzi (PhD Sociolinguistics, Georgetown University) works as the Language Access and Advocacy Coordinator, for OLA, which serves as the Mayor’s liaison on issues concerning the Latino community.  The purpose of the Language Access and Advocacy Program (LAAP) is to provide technical assistance, expertise, and guidance to the agencies named under the Language Access Act.  There are two programmatic components to LAAP: Language Access and Advocacy.  The Language Access component provides technical assistance and linguistic support to those DC government agencies named under the Language Access Act of 2004 (LAA) to ensure that their programs and services are delivered in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner to Latinos living in the city. OLA recognizes through its advocacy component that greater participation in local government programs and services has the potential of markedly improving the quality of life of non- and Limited English proficient populations, particularly those of Latino families, seniors, persons with disabilities, and children. As a result, the LAAP advocates on their behalf in and outside DC government, so that DC Latino residents may be better represented, informed, and able to access a full range of health, education, housing, economic development, and employment services. In addition, the LAAP serves as a linking mechanism that provides collaborative services to/between Latino community groups, the Mayor, DC government agencies, and private sector institutions.

National Science Foundation

The NSF is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…”  From their website: “With an annual budget of about $6.06 billion, we are the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities.”  Aliza Chlewicki, (Ph.D. sociolinguistics) has found application of language variation and discourse analysis in her work as an investigative scientist for the Office of the Inspector General of the NSF, Tina Bose. Aliza draws from her linguistic background (specifically the skills of discourse analysis & variation) to investigate plagiarism, for example investigating documents created by NNS English speakers (expected performance errors). According to Aliza, being an effective communicator is essential to this type of work as are excellent presentation and writing skills (required both for preparation of reports and internal / external outreach).

US Census Bureau

The Census Bureau serves as the leading source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy. We honor privacy, protect confidentiality, share our expertise globally, and conduct our work openly. We are guided on this mission by our strong and capable workforce, our readiness to innovate, and our abiding commitment to our customers.  Yuling Pan works as a Sociolinguist in the Statistical Research Division, drawing from her own PhD research in face and politeness theory to inform the design of questionnaires with Chinese speakers.  Specifically, the Census Bureau employs linguists as researchers to investigate the following questions: How are census questions designed? Do they get the info that they need? Are we asking questions in the right way? According to Yuling, they are in need of sociolinguists at all levels (from interns to the PhD level).  Some of the specific skills they look for include: Good interpersonal skills (particularly one-on-one interviewing), Theoretical grounding in Phonology, Syntax, Semantics, Pragmatics, Observational skills: An ability to recognize issues and recommend change, Ability to work with people – do research collaboratively, Ability to design a research topic/ research plan, Flexibility and an open mind, Language abilities in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Vietnamese, and/or Russian.

Law

Cataphora

From their website:  “C-Evidence, Cataphora’s revolutionary new electronic discovery service, retrieves documentary evidence and presents it in the context in which it occurred.  Unlike existing systems, it understands that it is very often the context which assigns importance to content. For example, an seemingly innocent email such as “I agree; let’s meet at 5:00 to discuss” may assume major significance, once placed in its correct context with the help of online calendars and prior communications. Or it may be highly suggestive if someone, who has a track record of replying diligently to all messages from her superior, fails to do so on a particular occasion. These and many other situations rely heavily on context, and little on content.”  Dick Oehrle, a Ph.D. in linguistics and Cataphora team member, said in response to the “would you hire a grad of such a program” question that, “The kind of training you envision would definitely be useful in our environment.”

Institute for Linguistic Evidence

Institute for Linguistic Evidence aims to “(1) research the validity and reliability of language-based authorship identification and other applications of linguistic science to forensic investigations; (2) to identify and refute language-based author identification techniques which are not sound science; and (3) to provide assistance to law enforcement agencies and attorneys on investigations and cases involving any linguistic evidence.”

Security Director

“The Securitydirector team includes experts from all areas of the security business who have many years of direct experience handling sensitive security situations. In addition to the members of our team, Securitydirector also maintains numerous privileged relationships with select, specialized service providers and security firms around the world. This network of partners allows Securitydirector to extend its reach in special or unique situations.”

Academy Group Inc.

Jim Fitzgersald, who received his MA from Georgetown’s Linguistics department is the first forensic linguist to work with Academy group, an organization of former profilers from the FBI who have public and private sector clients with problems related to language issues. When the integrity of a company (or product or employee) is being threatened or challenged, Jim’s role is to assess provenance, motivation, language abilities, sociolinguistic factors which may help in assessing the threat or narrowing down the suspect pool.

Legal Language Services

”If you practice law, you use legal language.  Legal translation, interpreting, transcription, international service of process:  litigation support for legal professionals and the general public.”

Roberts & Richards Associates, Inc

“Roberts & Richards offers consultation in the areas of forensic linguistics, language analysis, writing workshops for professionals, focus group design and conduct, electronic document design, and integrating technology in the classroom.”

Not-For-Profit Research Agencies

The FrameWorks Institute

The FrameWorks Institute’s mission is to “advance the nonprofit sector’s communications capacity by identifying, translating and modeling relevant scholarly research for framing the public discourse about social problems”.

Researchers at the institute make us a proprietary method of researching the discursive aspects of social problems known as strategic frame analysis™. Sound familiar? According to the Institute: “[q]uite simply, framing refers to the subtle selection of certain aspects of an issue in order to cue a specific response; as researchers have shown, the way an issue is framed explains who is responsible, and suggests potential solutions conveyed by images, stereotypes, messengers, and metaphors. The advantage of strategic frame analysis™ is that it allows the research to document and deconstruct the frames currently in the public consciousness and to understand their impact on public policy preferences. Additionally, it allows us to test and validate, through different disciplines, both the negative frames and the potential positive reframes that can further an issue’s salience.”

Linguists are valued at the FrameWorks Institute. According to the Institute’s Director of Learning, Dr. Julie Sweetland (PhD Sociolinguistics, Stanford University), “anyone who takes social issues seriously needs a thorough understanding of language and communication”.

Healthcare

Ogilvy CommonHealth

From the website:  “[Ogilvy CommonHealth provides] services to the healthcare industry including advertising and promotion, brand identity and development, global integration, direct-to-consumer, direct-to-patient, relationship marketing, digital/interactive services, managed care marketing, medical education, media planning and buying, clinical trial recruitment, market research and analytics, strategic consulting, and public affairs and relations.”

Ogilvy CommonHealth recently merged with MBS Fox, strengthening Ogilvy’s focus on healthcare communication. Georgetown’s own Professor Heidi Hamilton has served on the MBS Fox board and recommended linguists (including a Georgetown Linguistics MA) for positions there.

When asked whether the company might hire MLC grads, Joe Gattuso, Chief Strategic Officer of Ogilvy CommonHealth, responded that they were “absolutely interested.”

Verilogue

Verilogue is a company that focuses on market research in healthcare. The company came about because there was a disconnect between physicians and pharmaceutical companies, which make up the majority of Verilogue clients. To address this gap, Verilogue does a sort of ethnographic research, allowing clients to be a “fly on the wall.” They don’t have to ask the doctors how the medicine or disease is being talked about, they can hear it for themselves.

“Why have we been successful?” asks Larry Novacich, VP of client services: Because the patient-doctor interaction has become more and more important. Now insurance, government, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies are all influencing what physicians can and cannot do. And patients are becoming more informed. Physicians are a bit more regulated, and there is a lot more interest in what doctors are saying and how.

Northwest Center for Physician-Patient Communication

Created in 1994, this foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of healthcare in the Pacific Northwest through education and research in physician-patient communication. “Studies demonstrate that the benefits of improved communication include more accurate diagnosis, greater willingness by patients to follow physician instructions, increased patient satisfaction and better patient outcomes.”

Institute for Health Care Communication

Their mission is to enhance the quality of health care by improving the communication between clinician and patient through three major activities: education, research, and advocacy. From their website: “The Institute stresses the concept that effective communication between clinician and patient is a necessity, not an option. We work with health care organizations to conduct research and provide educational opportunities to make it possible for clinicians to develop the communication skills they need to be effective.”

European Association for Communication in Health Care

“EACH is an interdisciplinary non-profit organisation which brings together researchers and teachers in the field of communication in health care. Its objectives are to facilitate the exchange of ideas and teaching and research activities within a network of individuals and institutions in Europe.”

American Medical Writers Association

“The American Medical Writers Association was founded in 1940 to help medical authors. The mission of the American Medical Writers Association is to promote excellence in biomedical communication and to provide educational resources that support that goal. “

Drug Safety Institute

The DSI evaluates new drug names to limit confusion with other drugs and/or medical terminology.