Below are summaries of five of the organizations I have investigated over the semester and how my skills as a linguist could make me a good fit there. My focus was web content development and writing, especially for organizations I feel I connect with on a personal level.
NPR (previously known as National Public Radio) is a non-profit public media organization producing news and cultural programming which is distributed to more than 900 public radio stations nationwide. NPR is based in Washington D.C. (and just moved to its new home on North Capitol St. -- very close to where I live, in fact...we're neighbors!) and also has an NPR West office in Culver City, CA. I believe that the skills of a linguist could be of use to NPR in numerous ways, but particularly in the realm of web content development. An understanding of framing and audience design, for example, could make for more compelling and engaging material. Understanding and implementing principles of narrative can make a linguist an effective storyteller. From a communications standpoint, these could make a linguist sharp in portraying the company's values and mission to the world, using the website as a place to tell NPR's story.
WAMU is a public radio station in Washington D.C., and represents the District’s primary NPR news affiliate. Based out of American University, WAMU produces the popular and nationally-syndicated Diane Rehm Show, among others. Having followed WAMU's web presence since moving here, along with its job openings, it appears that the station is attempting to build out a comprehensive and user-friendly website that is as effective and popular as WBUR's (Boston) for instance (continually a winner of national awards for public radio web presence). With this knowledge, a deep familiarity with WBUR's site, and my skills as a linguist, I think I could be uniquely suited to work for WAMU on this endeavor. In particular, my recent studies have made me adept at understanding certain elements about what makes a website effective from a narrative standpoint. For example, I would be able to see the extent to which the station manages to align itself with the larger NPR community, as well as how it positions itself as a unique station...and then to work on these using my linguistic toolkit.
UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning
This non-profit research, training and publishing center (one of UNESCO's six educational institutes ) promotes what it calls "lifelong learning policy and practice" by focusing on adult education and literacy, and non-formal, innovative education opportunities for marginalized and disadvantaged groups. This is an organization for which my education in intercultural communications would come in especially handy. Given that this is a branch of a well-respected and influential global organization, cultural "awareness" (which is how my current research has propelled me to frame the process of being sensitive to the possibility of cultural differences, as well as how to not react too quickly to them) would serve me well. Moreover, my ongoing research on Heritage Language Learners, and issues of their identity construction (see my annotated bibliography for more on this) would potentially be useful to the organization's work, giving me a head start.
- Lisa Mullins, former anchor and reporter for WGBH's "The World" and long-time public radio personality
- Tom Cole, NPR Arts Desk editor for NPR's news magazines Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, and All Things Considered
- Jordan Teicher, former NPR online intern now writing in New York City. Intro was made via one of my informational interviews -- need to follow up
- Lauren Landau, WAMU's art beat producer and announcer
- Jessica Alpert, associate producer for WBUR radio
Click here to find a list of recent job openings that caught my eye! I think these all represent jobs at which I could use some of my skills as a linguist and a writer.
American University: University Communications
American University is a well-respected private liberal arts and research university in Northwest D.C. I believe their communications department in particular – which is frequently posting new writing/content development roles – would find the skills of a writer who is also a linguist incredibly useful. I think this is especially true when you consider the concept of framing, given that American University has a position within the academic community that I know it would want to maintain even as its communications programs progress and improve.
For my Industry Research Report -- delving into one aspect of NPR coverage as seen through a linguist's lens -- please click here.
NeighborWorks America has a mission to "create opportunities for lower-income people to live in affordable homes in safe, sustainable neighborhoods that are healthy places for families to grow." It does this through strategic partnerships and outreach. This is a perfect example of an organization for whom compelling messaging is especially important. It has the potential to play an important role in a very necessary are of improvement in our country, but in order to grow its resources and its impact, it needs strategic and engaging ways of talking about itself as a company and what it does. Here is where the skills -- many of which I have mentioned above or discussed across my portfolio -- would aid me if I were to work for the organization, from constructing narratives that capture the essence of the organization to targeting its external communications to specific audiences. Relying on frameworks and lenses (like the idea of community of practice, for instance) might also be useful in conceptualizing the work the organization does when then relaying it to the public.