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Alumni Stories: Mary Fox, ‘16, TESOL

Question: What has been your career experience since graduation?

I began my career adjuncting at TCC, as well as working as an analytical linguist for Treato, an Israeli social media data analytics platform. I quickly realized that working in industry was much more lucrative, so made the full switch to working in healthcare insights research by 2018.

Question: What is your current job?

I live in San Diego and just started my 4th year working remotely for Sommer Consulting, a primary human insights research company for healthcare & life sciences companies, both in the US and globally.

As the Vice President of Strategic Growth, I am the team lead for Sommer Consulting's insights research recruitment platform, TheInsighters.com.

Our customers are healthcare & life sciences companies—from Fortune 100 pharmaceutical giants launching the latest COVID products, to about-to-be-acquired start-ups innovating the latest genetic solutions in oncology. We partner with these companies to first identify their people & perception problems, and then uncover user-generated solutions. For example, why are physicians still so slow to prescribe a new COVID treatment despite plenty of product availability? When shown several TV ads, which do MS patients think is the most respectful & representative of their condition? Which set of medication dosage instructions is the easiest for the elderly & low-health literacy populations to understand? We partner with each customer to tease out the answers to complicated questions like these. We design the research, run the research, and now with The Insighters®, recruit exactly the right people to participate in the research.

The Insighters® platform matches you with paid research opportunities that are tailored to your insights. We make it easier for you to be at the forefront of industry, share your expertise, & get paid. Sign up at theinsighters.com or follow us on social at @theinsighters_.

Question: How has ODU's MA in Applied Linguistics program helped in your career? For example, assignments that have helped you outside of school, mentorship relationships from the program, etc.

Dr Zareva and Dr Scheibman are two of the most important mentors of my working life—both in training my brain how to think, and for teaching me how to use specific language analysis tools. Dr. Zareva taught me how to quickly and accurately diagnose and fix a language problem. Dr. Scheibman taught me how to critically approach language from a semantics, gender, and discourse analysis lens. I synthesize these skills they taught me every day in my work.

Question: Do you have any favorite memories from the program? For example, a favorite class, professor, a funny experience with your peers, etc.

I enjoyed how much the program encouraged paper presentations at conferences. They were fun and great growth opportunities, and a great way to stay up to date with new knowledge in the field.

Question: What was your favorite thing about ODU's MA in Applied Linguistics Program? For example, something you learned, the atmosphere of class, etc.

I loved learning in such an intimate and supportive environment. I was never just a number—the professors always had time for me when I had a question or an idea!

Question: Do you have any advice for grad students interested in applied linguistics, or for students who are currently in the program?

Please consider a job in industry! Tech, Market/Insights Research, Social Media Platforms, Syndicated Research—these are all industries that hire skilled linguists all the time. Check out their job postings and the skills they want, and then see how you can tailor your Applied Linguistics MA experience in a way that will get you that well-paying, post-grad job that you want. Apply your research to a variety of non-academic language situations while you are in the program. Find a class outside the program that you think could add value (such as marketing or digital strategies) and make the case for it to apply to your MA degree. Being able to understand how another department might think about or approach language is important training for your future in industry. Finally, If you aren't checking LinguistList's job board, you should be -- every day! (It's where I found my first job with Treato.) Follow linguists in industry on Twitter and Linkedin. They share job posts and important information on how to get a job in industry.

Tech, Market/Insights Research, Social Media Platforms, Syndicated Research—these are all industries that hire skilled linguists all the time. I synthesize the skills I learned in this program every day in my work.

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