I have a PhD in linguistics and want to get into tech. Is there a way in?

Rakuten / Ops

Rakuten Ops

Rakuten USA
Obligatory: YoE 20, TC 41k. Such is life for us non-SWE office monkeys!
Oct 18, 2019 51 Comments

Got my master's and PhD while working over many years. A lot of my colleagues became adjunct professors, or worked in international relations in countries whose languages they researched. I'd like to get into tech - make the minority languages I worked on usable on computers; design fonts and input editors; work on speech recognition.

Is this realistic? My programming skills would be laughed at - I know some basic C, Python, and Java - but I designed fonts and IMEs as part of my thesis. I applied for language-related positions at Apple, Microsoft, and Google, and speech scientist positions at two more companies, but couldn't get a reply.

I'm not unemployed so I'm hardly desperate like some folks, but the job I've got isn't very special and doesn't even require a bachelor's or even a single YoE. The pay is in line with those conditions.

Is it worth attempting to somehow get into tech? If there isn't, I'd still gladly donate my research to someone who is working in the field, just so that it will have some impact. I hate to see it die. But ideally I'd be doing the work myself!

My TC is low enough, and I have enough savings, that I'd take any low-paying or even unpaid internship to get into the field.

Any thoughts or ideas would be very much appreciated!


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