An internship is a way to explore career options, network, and get work experience. The Career Development Center has hundreds of local internship listings. Linguist List maintains a linguistics-specific internship registry. Also, some businesses and organizations that do not offer a formal internship program may be happy to accept you as an unpaid intern if you approach them and volunteer.
Linguistics students sometimes get discouraged that few internship ads specifically mention “linguistics”. Don’t limit yourself! Many businesses and organizations need people with intercultural knowledge, language skills, and data analysis skills. You can apply for internships in a wide range of fields, with a great cover letter explaining what you have to offer.
Below are a few organizations that offer linguistics-related internships or volunteer opportunities. Please note that the Linguistics Department cannot vouch for them; these links are provided just to get you started on your search.
- The Institute for Creative Technologies, a research institute of USC, offers paid summer internships in Playa Vista. Usually a few are linguistics-related.
- The Natural Language group at the Information Sciences Institute (ISI), also part of USC, offers paid summer internships in Marina Del Ray. Programming skills are a must.
- Alelo is a commercial spinoff of ISI, located east of Marina del Rey. Their website says “Internships welcome!”
- The Center for Language and Speech Processing at Johns Hopkins has research workshops, including paid undergraduate positions, most summers.
- UNL-Web offers internships that can be done online.
- Other internships sometimes pop up on the Association for Computational Linguistics site.
- Lots of open software communities are interested in localization volunteers, such as Mozilla, Fedora, and Open Office. This can be a first step for someone with language skills but limited computer skills.
- The Linguistic Data Consortium offers part-time jobs in corpus development.
- One can occasionally find volunteer opportunities in corpus annotation, such as Quranic Arabic Corpus or Open Corpus (in Russian).
Language documentation / revitalization
- The Smithsonian occasionally has openings in the Recovering Voices Project
- The Rosetta Project
- Cultural Survival (Massachusetts)
- Language Hunters
- The Language Conservancy
- Where are your keys?
- Endangered Languages Project
- SIL (a religious organization)
- LEX America / Language Research Foundation (Massachusetts)
- Linguist List (Indiana)
- AES World Languages and Cultures Institute (Boston)
- These nonprofits don’t specifically mention volunteer opportunities, but you could ask: The International Research Foundation for English Language Education, Institute for Language and Education Policy, LENA Foundation, Indigenous Language Institute, Endangered Language Alliance, Lakota Language Consortium.
Translation / language specialists
There are numerous translation agencies in the L.A. area that you could approach for internships. Many agencies also hire freelancers.
- United Nations
- Appen (international)
- Intex Translation Agency (Los Angeles)
- WordExpress (Santa Monica)
- Language Scientific (Boston)
- Language Link (Vancouver, Washington)
- Linguist Connect (London)
- NWI Global (Vancouver, WA)
- The Translation Company
- The American Translators Association and Pro-Z both offer mentoring programs.
- The PanLex Project is building some kind of translation database, and recruits volunteers to work from home.
- The Boren Awards fund language study and study abroad.
- The Linguistic Data Consortium recruits language specialists to collect and review linguistic data.
- Many community organizations need translation volunteers.
- Concordia Language Villages offers summer teaching work.
Many government agencies offer internships for bilingual (and other) students, including:
- The Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP) offers research internships at about a dozen universities for undergraduates from backgrounds under-represented in graduate education, including minority students, first-generation college students and students from low-income families.
- The National Science Foundation has a program called Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), where undergrads do paid internships on specific projects. Some years there may be linguistics projects. They would usually be in the category of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences. Natural language processing projects would be in Computer and Information Science and Engineering.
- A number of universities offer other undergraduate summer research programs, including UCLA, Oregon, Dartmouth, North Carolina, Maryland, USC (DIA Jumpstart) and UC Irvine (SURF).
- The University of Maryland’s Baggett Fellowships fund a year of post-B.A. (but pre-grad school) linguistics research.
A few university research labs offer their own internships programs, such as:
- The Harvard Laboratory for Developmental Studies
- The Yale Comparative Cognition Laboratory
- The Johns Hopkins Laboratory for Child Development
- The Temple Infant and Child Laboratory
- The Hunter College Language Acquisition Research Center
- The University of Texas Human Abilities in Bilingual Language Acquisition (HABLA)
- The University of Pittsburgh’s Science of Learning Center
Other labs may also accept interns if you ask them. Here is a good description of how to approach a lab about an internship.
Examples of companies that offer internships in brand-name creation:
There are also quite a few marketing companies in the L.A. area that do brand-name development; you could approach any of them about internships.
- Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington D.C. has interns work on a variety of projects.
- There are dozens, maybe hundreds of think tanks and institutes that focus on various areas of policy. A student interested in language policy issues (such as bilingual education or minority language rights) might intern at an organization like the The Migration Policy Institute, the Institute for Policy Studies, the League of United Latin American Citizens, or the Manhattan Institute (which employs linguist John McWhorter). A student with a more international focus might look at the Center for World Indigenous Studies, Organization of American States, Amazon Watch, etc. These are just a sampling; you can find longer lists at other sites. Find an institute whose politics agree with your own, and explain in your application what you can offer them as a linguist.
- Educational Testing Service
- Pearson (U.K. – company also has U.S. locations)
- Also check these postings.
Publishing and writing
- A number of publishers offer internships, such as Pearson, Wiley, Cengage, Random House, and Scholastic.
- A number of tech companies, such as Microsoft, have internships in technical writing. See also this guide to entering the field.
- The Society for Technical Communication maintains a job and internship bank.