LCL FAQ (Updated July 2022)
What is the Linguistics Career Launch?
Linguistics Career Launch is a programmatic effort to help students and faculty learn more about careers that welcome linguists, beyond roles in academia. So far LCL has introduced programs in three contexts:
- 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, non-profit 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. See Calendar for schedule. Most of these sessions were recorded and are available via our YouTube channel.
- 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?”
What do participants pay for these programs?
Programs at the Annual Meetings of the LSA are included with registration to the meeting.
LCL21 offered registration for the general offerings ($150 regular, or $100 for early registrants) and limited attendance at the two courses to 30 people each (total charge of $300, or $250 for early registrants). LCL21 was signficantly less expensive than most bootcamps for comparable numbers of hours of instruction.
LCL2.0 was freely available via Twitter.
Why did the LCL21 program cost money?
Organizing and executing a 19-day event with 120 hours of career management and skill-building content, plus 2 intensive classes with 12-16 contact hours apiece took a lot of effort. Much of the organizing work was done by volunteers. There are fixed costs for executing an event like this – we need to pay for our meeting platforms, storage space for video content, post-production editing, website hosting, plus small honoraria for our presenters. LCL was and continues to be self-supporting.
Despite starting as an extension of the Linguistics Beyond Academia (Special Interest Group of the LSA), LCL received no financial support from LSA for
- the original events of Summer 2021
- the post-production expenses
- the continuing availability of the content via the LCL website and YouTube channel.
We understand that – even at the low per-hour cost that we offered – the program may have been unaffordable to some of our prospective attendees. In order to help mitigate this, we recorded many of our panels, workshops, lectures, and other presentations. These recorded sessions have been made publicly available on our YouTube channel.
In addition, we made sure that LCL 2.0 was free of charge.
Did you offer scholarships?
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 scholarships. (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 aspire to a scholarship program that recognizes equity and diversity, and look forward to working with departments and sponsors to make it happen.
My employer hires linguists and would like to be involved. Does LCL offer sponsorship opportunities?
LCL offers a unique opportunity for organizations to meet and recruit linguists who are interested in employment outside of academia. Contact us at our email to learn about sponsorship opportunities for on-going programs.
What sort of events were recorded from LCL21?
All recordings can be found on our YouTube channel.
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 profiles showcase the career paths of either individual linguists or small groups 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.
Organization profiles showcase the specifics of working as a linguist at a particular organization. Linguists talk about what it means to bring their linguistic training to that specific organization on a daily basis, for example, or three linguists may cover the diversity of roles that can exist even within the same organization.
How-to sessions provide an overview of a specific sub-sector or skill for which linguists are a good fit. These sessions cover both the “standard” alt-ac paths such as translation and speech language pathology, but also less traditional ones like marketing, journalism, or project management. Other content in the how-to sessions includes things specific to this historical moment, like job-hunting during the pandemic.
What sort of events were NOT recorded from LCL21?
We made the decision to not record several kinds of activities.
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 expect our conversations will become more frequent, 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.
And last, but not least, 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.
Should faculty review and become familiar with the LCL materials?
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.
Please share LCL21 videos and additional materials with faculty advisors and department chairs!
Is LCL only for people job-searching in the US vs. internationally?
LCL21 focused on the US employment market. However, some of our panelists have international experience, and some of the involved organizations have an international presence. (We did not provide in-depth guidance for people needing visas to work in the US.)
I’m not a linguist / I don’t have a linguistics degree. Will LCL materials and events help me?
So far, the programs have been designed by and are intended for linguists. We take a broad definition of what a linguist is, to include individuals who study or work in closely related fields. Our programming will assume basic knowledge of linguistics. We do not have any events designed specifically to teach about linguistics.
Even though most of our career representatives have at least one degree in linguistics, we imagine that much of the materials discussed will be applicable to other social and behavioral sciences (psychology, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, cognitive science, neuroscience, and even economics).
Were LCL21 events accessible?
We are striving to make LCL 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 at LinguisticsBeyondAcademia@gmail.com so we can try to address additional requirements.
What does “outside of academia” mean?
“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.
What does it mean to work “in linguistics”?
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:
- Document design
- Content creation & strategy
- Ontologies aka knowledge management aka information architecture
- User experience (UX) design and research
What about networking?
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.
Do you include mentoring as part of LCL activities?
Yes, a mentoring component is often available at LCL events. We schedule individual office hours or set up small group sessions, depending on the number of interested attendees and available mentors.
Mentoring for us might mean reviews of 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.
Will you teach me technical skills?
LCL does not offer technical boot camps, though we do offer sessions about NLP, AI/ML, technical interviews and similar 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 offered in many online courses by Udemy, Coursera, or LinkedIn Learning (among many others). Or you may find an in-person course that suits you within your region.
Similarly there are online courses and individuals to help you become familiar with any of the many other career specialties.
How can I stay connected with communities for linguistics beyond academia, even when LCL is not putting on events?
- 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. Contact us via email.
Are there online resources available to support my alt-ac job search?
Yes, lots! We are regularly updating a list of resources on the LCL website.
Can you tell me how to get a job in academia?
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.
What degree do I need to get a job?
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.
My advisor can’t help me find alt-ac jobs or tells me I’ve failed for leaving academia! What should I do?
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.
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.
Believe it or not…I have a question that isn’t answered here! Where do I ask it?
We’d love to hear from you! Contact us via email.