What is LCL?

Linguistics Career Launch is a programmatic effort to help students and faculty learn more about careers that welcome linguists beyond roles in academia.

LCL24 will take place virtually from July 15-26 2024. We’re hard at work on the program. You can see the latest on LCL24 on the program page.

Prior to LCL24, we have run three additional programs:

  • Since 2016, at the Annual Meetings of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA), the Linguistics Beyond Academia Special Interest Group has organized a panel of linguists working in business, technology, nonprofit and government agencies. Several of these panels have been recorded and can be found on our YouTube channel. We have also created networking events where students and faculty can meet people with careers beyond academia in an informal (remote/virtual/distributed) setting.
  • In July 2021, LCL21 produced a four-week summer “boot camp” comprising about 120 hours of programming. LCL21 took place virtually using the Gather.town platform as a hub, with workshops and courses conducted via Zoom.
  • During Summer 2022, LCL2.0 was conducted as a Tweetorial from our @LingBeyondAcad Twitter account, where we shared tips related to managing your career and pointed to specific roles where linguists are finding work. LCL2.0 included an optional Job Squad (weekly group Zoom meetings), and offered a Zoom-based Book Club featuring a classic work, What Color is Your Parachute?, for reframing the job search from “what’s available this week?” to “what do I want to do with my life, in light of my values, skills, interests, and accomplishments so far?”

“Outside of academia” (sometimes called alt-ac or beyond academia) means any job that is not being a linguistics or language professor (including adjuncts), a post-doc, or a researcher at a university.

Outside-of-academia employment includes a huge range of both public (government at municipal, county, state, or Federal level) and private sector careers. It can mean working for intergovernmental organizations, in established businesses that do work in healthcare, technology, consumer marketing, in B2B (business-to-business) enterprises, and in startups or entrepreneurial efforts.

We encourage a shift in perspective with regards to academic employment: there are 1000 things you can do with your linguistics training, and only one of them is to work in academia.

LCL events take a broad approach to what it means to work “in linguistics.” This big-tent approach means that if you have a degree in linguistics, you are working with language in some way, and you call on your linguistics training to do so, you are working “in linguistics.” If you have a degree (or more than one) in linguistics, you will see and hear with a unique filter. You may bring linguistics into contexts where it was never used or called upon before, but from which it won’t be left out again.

Here are some areas that are not typically taught in linguistics departments, but that linguists might be especially well trained to pursue as careers:

  • Accessibility
  • Document design
  • Content creation & strategy
  • Internationalization
  • Ontologies aka knowledge management aka information architecture
  • User experience (UX) design and research

Yes, a drop-in mentoring component is available at LCL24. Our mentoring takes the form of open office hours.

Mentoring for us means reviewing resumes or other documents, answering questions about jobs, regional or industry differences in workplace practices, how to negotiate a job offer, and more.

Long-term mentoring is not part of the current plan for LCL. We can connect you to individuals who may be available for more intensive coaching and support during the job search process or for certain specialties.

Recognizing that professional success is not just determined by the knowledge and skills shown on a resume, we emphasize that careers also benefit from building a professional network, understanding how the job application and interview process work outside of academia, and learning how to market and advocate for yourself.

LCL programming always includes networking events (meetups) where students and faculty can meet with linguists already working outside of academia. These linguists will include panel speakers, employees of corporate sponsors, and alumni/ae who’ve benefited from LCL guidance.

And we have hints for introverts who might be less excited about networking.

LCL does not offer technical boot camps.

We offer sessions about working in fields like natural language processing and machine learning, doing technical interviews, and other related topics.

If you are interested in learning to program, we suggest you pursue a specific programming boot camp in a widely-used language, such as Python. There are many online courses offered by providers like Udemy, Coursera, or LinkedIn Learning (among many others). Or you may find an in-person course that suits you within your region.

We also suggest incorporating programming tasks into your current projects, or finding an interesting project that you can extend with programming tasks to help you build these skills.

Similarly there are online courses and individuals to help you become familiar with any of the many other technical specialties.

All recordings can be found on our YouTube channel. We recorded several different types of events in 2021, and we plan to record the same in 2024.

Career management workshops cover specific skills and advice around job seeking and career exploration. For example, a resume workshop might cover topics, such as how a resume is different from a CV, or how to use business or non-academic language to describe your transferable linguistics skills.

Career linguist panels showcase the career paths of small groups of linguists from the same sector. For example, you might hear a panel of linguists who work in conversation design talk about their jobs and how they got there.

Skills workshops provide an overview of a specific sub-sector or skill for which linguists are a good fit. This year, we’re hoping to present workshops on generative AI, taxonomy, and conversation design, among other topics.

We made the decision in 2021 to not record several kinds of activities. We will NOT record these in 2024.

Cohort meetups offer a chance to connect with others who are in a similar place in their career trajectory, such as undergrads, those in an MA program, or in a PhD program, faculty, those who already work outside of academia, etc. These facilitated sessions give a chance to connect with peers, and to ask questions that might not have fit anywhere else.

Career mixers were held weekly and were specifically designed for attendees to network with linguists already working outside of academia. Career mixers are not job fairs, but are events meant to showcase the wide range of paths open to linguists, and to make valuable connections for the future.

Mentoring and/or office hours offer the chance for more targeted help on specific topics, a space for lingering questions, and the opportunity to build meaningful mentor/mentee relationships. These are staffed by career linguists, both current and retired.

Who is LCL for?

We were happy to see a range of students (from undergraduates through post-docs) during the first year of LCL.

We were especially glad to find a few faculty and administrators in these sessions. We hope to see more faculty and staff in 2024 as departments of linguistics consider what this change in perspective means: support students in finding meaningful, paying work.

We welcome people with advanced degrees, but whose current job might be as an adjunct, visiting, or replacement faculty position (all of which we consider precarious employment options). We welcome students at every level of accomplishment, with bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

We encourage participation by people already employed beyond academia who are ready to expand their career horizons and join the growing community of linguists in industry, government, and nonprofits.

And last, but not least, in 2024 we encourage the career-curious from other humanities and social sciences to join us. Although we have “linguistics” in the title, we have found that many of the skills linguists bring are also shared by those in similar disciplines. We are big-tent, and we hope you’ll join us!

We are striving to make LCL24 and the materials we offer as accessible as possible to those with disabilities, e.g., all the videos have captions that have been manually corrected and identify which person is speaking. If you have a specific need that is not being met, contact us so we can try to address additional requirements.

Yes! It’s never too early to start career exploration, and we welcome students of all levels at our events.

Undergraduates can learn career management basics in our workshops on networking, resumes, informational interviews, LinkedIn, salary negotiation, and using ChatGPT as a job search assistant.

They can take away industry skills from our workshops on content creation, taxonomy, generative AI, and localization tools. Even though the facilitators of many of our workshops hold PhDs, these are skills that can be useful for a college internship or a post-graduation job.

And our career panels showcase a wide variety of industries, enabling undergraduate students to better understand the space of available careers. Many of our panelists do have graduate degrees, but they are enthusiastic contributors welcome to questions about pursuing work in their sectors as undergraduate degree holders. The makeup of our panels is less a reflection of what degree you need to pursue work in a particular field, and more about who is most eager to join us as a career linguist representative.

Faculty, particularly undergraduate advisors and graduate advisors, are especially welcome, since they have a lot of influence on how students perceive their employability. And faculty often provide valuable guidance on paths for graduate students and alumni/ae to consider after earning master’s and doctoral degrees.

Questions that faculty can expect to be able to answer through LCL resources and programming:

  • How can I better advise, direct and mentor my students who are curious about careers beyond academia?
  • What should our department or program expect to get from the Campus Careers office, and how can we collaborate with that office to the benefit of our students?
  • How can we work with our alumni/ae employed beyond academia to help guide our students and newer alumni/ae?
  • How can we create a “local Careers Outside Academia group” with businesses and career linguists who live or work near our campus?
  • How can I help foster a positive environment in my department with respect to all possible career paths open to linguists?
  • …and many more.

Consider attending LCL24 to help grow your career knowledge and support your career-curious students. If you are unable to attend in person, check out our YouTube channel for a great content repository that you can incorporate into your classroom. Or, consider helping your students seek department or university funding for a professionalization excellent fellowship to offset the program cost. (Departments that send 4 students will get a special group rate of $750 - over $100 in savings.)

LCL24 will focus primarily on the US employment market. However, some of our panelists have international experience, and some of the involved organizations have an international presence. We are hoping to offer a panel this year of international linguists working in the US who can share their personal journeys from academia into US employment.

So far, the programs have been designed by and are intended for linguists. However, we take a broad definition of what a linguist is, to include individuals who study or work in closely related fields like anthropology, sociology, ethnography, philosophy, psychology, language studies, neuroscience, and cognitive science. Our programming will assume basic knowledge of linguistics. We do not have any events designed specifically to teach about linguistics.

For LCL24, we encourage the career-curious from other humanities and social sciences to join us. Although we have “linguistics” in the title, we have found that many of the skills linguists bring are also shared by those in similar disciplines. We are big-tent, and we hope you’ll join us!

What does LCL cost?

Programs at the Annual Meetings of the LSA are included with registration to the meeting.

LCL24 registration for the general offerings is $215 early bird/$295 regular. We are offering two courses in 2024, with each course priced at $240. (Total early bird + one course = $455; total regular + one course = $535). LCL24 is significantly less expensive than most boot camps for comparable numbers of hours of instruction. All ticket prices include Eventbrite fees - the cost you see here is what you pay.

We are also offering a special group discount - $750 for 4 early bird general registration tickets. We encourage departments to fund a group ticket with professional development or conference fee funds.

Organizing and executing events like this takes a lot of time and effort. There are fixed costs for executing it – we need to pay for our meeting platforms, storage space for video content, post-production editing, and website hosting. We also need to compensate program assistants (aka student interns) and course instructors, plus provide honoraria for our presenters (and ideally our organizers too).

We want LCL to be a sustainable program that can produce high-quality careers content on a regular schedule. Organizers are spending hundreds of unpaid hours to bring LCL24 to fruition. Because we ideally want to make LCL a yearly event (or even more frequent!), we need to build a way not only to fund fixed costs, but also to compensate the organizers who make this programming possible.

LCL programming is extremely low-cost compared to market-rate career development alternatives. We intend to keep it that way! Most professional development programming costs at least $100/hour. LCL24 costs $215 for 40-50 hours of content. Going forward, we hope to find a model that keeps LCL low-cost while also recognizing that organizer and support staff compensation is crucial to a sustainable programming model.

No! LCL is financially self-supporting. Despite being a project of the Linguistics Beyond Academia (Special Interest Group of the Linguistic Society of America), LCL receives no funding from LSA for:

  • our three LCL programs (2021, 2022, 2024)
  • the post-production expenses to create YouTube and podcast content
  • the continuing availability of the content via the LCL website and YouTube channel.

We are extremely grateful to be part of LSA. We could not execute such ambitious programming without the support of LSA staff! While day-to-day operations of LCL are run by the LBA SIG volunteers, the program still represents a cost to LSA (in terms of LSA staff’s time and aspects of nonprofit management like financial auditing). A portion of LCL revenue goes to LSA to help offset the program’s cost.

All costs of executing an LCL program must be covered through registration fees or corporate sponsorship. If an LCL program fails to meet registration or financial minimums, we are obligated to cancel the event.

Our short timeline for planning and executing LCL21 made it impossible to both plan the ambitious program and work out an equitable policy for administering a fee reduction scheme. (We got the go-ahead for the LCL from LSA in March 2021; we opened our first session on July 6 of the same year.)

We are operating under a similarly tight timeline for LCL24. As of mid-May, we do not have any program funds; without guaranteed funding at this time, we are unable to administer a fee reduction scheme. We continue to aspire to an eventual fee reduction program that recognizes equity and diversity.

For current students, we encourage you to reach out to your department to seek financial support. We had several students attend LCL21 who were able to secure funding through their departments or other university programs. We have put together some materials to encourage departments to send students to LCL24 - see the flyer for students and the flyer for departments. Departments that register 4 students can take advantage of special group pricing and receive over $100 off the program cost!

We understand that – even at the low per-hour cost that we offer – the program may be unaffordable to some of our prospective attendees. In order to help mitigate this, we record many of our panels, workshops, lectures, and other presentations. Previously recorded sessions have been made publicly available on our YouTube channel, and we will post more after LCL24.

In addition, we made sure that LCL 2.0 was free of charge.

We are thrilled when departments show their commitment to professionalization excellence by funding student attendance to LCL. We can’t know for sure if your specific department will agree to provide funding, but we encourage you to ask. Departments that register 4 students during early bird (until June 24) can take advantage of special group pricing and receive over $100 off the program cost! If you need help advocating for departmental support, check out our flyers for students and departments about the benefits of attending LCL24.

Yes! Email us at linguisticscareerlaunch@gmail.com and we will provide you with instructions on how to sign up for a course. Course registration is only available as an add-on to the main program.

How do I get involved?

If you’re a career linguist working in sectors like industry, government, and nonprofits, there are many ways to get involved! Follow this link for information about helping out LCL2024.

LCL offers a unique opportunity for organizations to meet and recruit linguists who are interested in employment outside of academia. Sponsorship information is available here. We are incredibly grateful our sponsors, who are crucial partners in ensuring we can continue to provide low-cost, high-quality programming to linguists around the world.

  • Review recorded LCL events (including some panels from previous LCL or LBA events). Organize a group viewing for your department or lab.
  • Join the Facebook group or the LinkedIn group of the LSA’s Linguistics Beyond Academia Special Interest Group.
  • Follow us on Twitter or YouTube or contact us.

Other questions?

There is no single answer to this question. LCL exposes attendees to career linguists who are both early, mid, and late career, and who have attained different levels of terminal degrees, from bachelor’s to PhD. The answer will vary based on sector (public/private), industry (tech/healthcare/marketing/biotech/etc), the specific job, the requirements of the specific organization, and many other factors.

LCL is focused on employment outside of traditional academic tracks. If you are looking for academic work, we support you! But we can’t offer guidance on this path, and there won’t be relevant content within our recordings or programs on how to seek employment in academia.

LCL is here to help you explore the wonderful world of non-academic employment for linguists. You can connect with people who never wanted to pursue academic careers, as well as those who shifted gears after they were unable to find work as a professor or researcher. A career outside of academia is NOT a failure! It is a place full of fascinating opportunities to pursue, and interesting linguistic problems to solve. Academia is just ONE option out of many.

LCL is also intended in part to push back against the narrative that academic employment is the only/best choice for those with linguistics training. The reality is that there are not enough academic jobs available for the number of linguistics graduates. Many people will have to search for jobs outside of academia. The good news is: there are a lot of great options!

If you are a student and not getting the support that you need from your department, encourage your department faculty and advisors to review LCL content! We suggest that your advisors check out our content on YouTube and Twitter.

Yes, lots! We are regularly updating a list of resources on the LCL website.