I spent most of my childhood in Ukraine. I am what you might call a
of Russian (and, to a lesser extent, Ukrainian). What can I do with them?
I have a BA in cognitive science and work as a research assistant for a research organization. My degree is in cognitive science because my alma mater didn't offer linguistics as a major field of study. The experimental research I assist with is only tangentially related to language. I like learning and learning about language and languages from almost any viewpoint: formal/theoretic, historical, anthropological, and humanistic.
I maintain my Russian by keeping up with the Russian media and press. My reading and spoken comprehension are native or near-native, my spoken Russian is more domestic than professional. I have worked on research teams with Russian researchers, and find it difficult to discuss statistics and experimental design in Russian.
I would like my Russian to be more than a hobby or a party trick.
I enjoy translating the occasional newspaper article, short story, or poem, and used to have a romanticized view of translators and translation. Having done a few informational interviews, I discovered two types of translators:
- boutique translators who chance upon and occupy a small niche, like a friend of a friend who was living in Germany and almost by accident became the translator for a local yeshiva, eventually developing that job into a legal/judicial translation bureau in Manhattan
- commodity translators, who translate specialized and mind-numbing material (e.g., melamine board manufacturing standards) under horrific deadlines; one person I spoke to advertised the fact that she lived several time zones ahead of her clients, thereby making it possible for them to send her work as they went to bed and receive finished product when they woke up in the morning.
I am horrified by the latter, and not on track toward the former.
I have gathered that interpretation is a specialized skill that requires talent and experience. I suspect that I'd find the demands of interpretation stressful and debilitating.
I have scanned lists of suggested jobs at my alma mater's career center, and most of them seem to require language as a secondary skill. I haven't given much attention to, and have no background or experience in, art history, international business, international development, international finance, or international public relations.
Finally, I'm not sure how much demand there is for Russian teachers/tutors. I have looked into teaching at Berlitz, and instructors there get about $12/hour. That's outrageous. For anything better, I suspect I would need a certificate or an additional degree. I'm not sure how convincing an instructor I'd be, since I'm not immersed in the language (i.e., I don't split my time between Russia and the US), so I'm not really an "authentic" speaker of the language.
I live near Washington, DC, which, I hope, should broaden my options. Thanks for any advice or suggestions.