Marlena is an aspiring PhD student who is looking to get a professorship in linguistics.
"Enjoy the journey. Take the time to pause and appreciate what you can be grateful for in this moment. Life isn't a race to a finish line, it's a winding path filled with obstacles and rewards. If you need to change paths, or take a break from school, or try something new, give it a go."
My career roadmap has been somewhat defined.
In junior high I started learning Japanese for fun. “Linguist” joined “storyboard artist”on my list of dream careers after I read my dad's old linguistics textbook.
At AOC I had to make the critical decision of which of two very different career paths I would pursue. I decided to aim for linguistics at a UC instead of animation at an art college, since art was something I could still do as a hobby.
Stayed a year at COC after graduating AOC in order to
complete the IGETC. I took French and Mandarin Chinese while there.
Got a BA in Linguistics and Asian Languages and Cultures (Japanese emphasis) from UCLA. Dabbled in teaching as an assistant martial arts instructor while there, and found that teaching was a really fun thing to do.
Got into the JET Program, which sent me to Japan to live for two years while working as an assistant language teacher (ALT). While there, I passed the JLPT 3, certifying proficiency in intermediate Japanese.,
and earned a TEFL certificate, improving my chances of getting English
teaching jobs in the future.
Teaching English was fun, but I missed linguistics. So, I spent a gap year back in Santa Clarita to apply for grad schools, take the GRE, and try to teach myself statistics and Python in preparation for graduate level research.
Earned an MA in Linguistics with Specialization in Phonology from University College London, and in the process learned critical lessons in research, self-discipline, and self-advocacy.
I had planned on teaching English abroad again, but that's been delayed due to the current crisis. In the meantime, I'm seeking online
teaching opportunities while also investigating potential PhD programs.
Here are my extracurriculars relevant to this pathway
DURING MY HIGH SCHOOL CAREER
Self-studying languages and linguistics
Anime Club at AOC
International Club at COC
Played clarinet in orchestra
DURING MY COLLEGE CAREER
Assistant teacher of martial arts at UCLA
Traveling at every opportunity (and observing language variation wherever I go)
Conducted linguistic experiments as both an undergrad and grad student; learned how to use the relevant equipment and software
A whole lot of Duolingo
What I'm currently doing/hope to do
My current career goal is a professorship in linguistics, but it's a long road to get
there. The next step on my path is to gain entry into a PhD program, but before pursuing that, I'm gathering teaching experience, and traveling to different places to hear many different languages and dialects in person. With more experience I'm also honing in on potential areas of research to explore as a PhD student.
How to maximize my time in high school?
Advice #1: Learn some languages! For teaching English abroad, knowing the local language of wherever you want to teach is helpful, but whether it's necessary varies by country and by job. For linguistics in academia, learning a couple foreign languages is essential, and it's a good idea to choose at least one language very different from what you already know. Mandarin Chinese or ASL, for instance.
Advice #2: Linguistics is a very broad field, so in addition to foreign language classes, feel free to take whatever you find interesting, from philosophy to physics. That said, I do highly recommend taking statistics if you want to do research in the future, and knowing some computer science will give you a big edge in the job market.
Advice #3: Teaching is one of those jobs you should really be passionate about to succeed in, so try to find opportunities where you can see if it's the career for you. Tutor classmates, join a speech and debate team, learn theatre, be a camp counselor. Experience being in front of people with the goal of teaching them something.
4. Advice #4: Enjoy the journey. Take the time to pause and appreciate what you can be grateful for in this moment. Life isn't a race to a finish line, it's a winding path filled with obstacles and rewards. If you need to change paths, or take a break from
school, or try something new, give it a go. Not doing so can lead to burnout, and you might be surprised with what you discover on that detour.
Advice #5: Have some kind of hobby you can use to unwind and recharge. No matter how much you love your major or career, it's important to have time set aside when you can do something without needing to worry about obligations, evaluations, etc.