Alexandra NymanMajor(s) and Minor: Linguistics, Individualized Major in Cognitive Science, and Visual Art

Why did you choose Linguistics as your major?

When I first started school, I planned to major in Art. I was terrified of math and thought it was not for me. Then, by chance, I took introductory logic. I really loved the course and was surprised to find that it made sense to me. After talking with some classmates, I learned logic is used quite a lot in Linguistics, so I took Linguistics 201. I was hooked on Linguistics after that!

What did you like most about it?

My favorite aspect of Linguistics is that it is so much more interdisciplinary than I thought at first. In fact, it seems like every day I find more ways in which it connects to other fields of research!

What is your current position, what do you, and what do you enjoy most about it?

Currently, I work as a Software Developer for Lionbridge, Inc., and will be starting the doctoral program in Linguistics at UMass Amherst in this upcoming fall (2018). I am really happy about the position I’m in; the work I do on a daily basis is challenging and directly related to what I studied in school, so I learn while I work!

What was your first job after Rutgers and how did you get it?

After graduating, I began applying to positions in computational linguistics and, over the summer, applied to every open position (40+ job openings) posted on I was hired by an AI company called Digital Genius; my title at that job was “linguistics architect” and I helped design chat bot software.

How did you move from that first job to your current position?

Since graduating, I have worked in multiple tech-oriented positions, but my goal was always to become eligible to apply to graduate programs. Over the years, at work, I’ve learned to differentiate between the technical and social levels of things. What companies say they do, and what they actually do are two different things! I like the job I have now, but it took awhile for me to find it.

Looking back, what classes or experiences at Rutgers would you point to as contributing to your successes?

I think working as a research assistant in Dr. Syrett’s developmental language lab was a key experience for me. I not only learned how to conduct research, I also learned that the research environment is a really exciting place, and that I am particularly interested in language acquisition and early cognition. This pushed me to take myself more seriously as a linguist and work towards conducting research of my own. After taking the course “Linguistics and Cognitive Science” with Dr. Tesar, I knew I wanted to focus on language acquisition and computational linguistics. Throughout my time at Rutgers, I was given so much support and encouraged to pursue a future in academic research!

What advice do you have for our current Arts and Sciences students?

I would say: stay passionate even when you feel lost, and read a lot! I would also recommend applying for research assistantships and other positions that interest you during your time as an undergraduate.


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