Help my wife find a bilingual job
August 4, 2008 2:45 PM   Subscribe

My wife has been a Spanish teacher for 7 years. This year she said "no more" and quit. She wants to find a job where she can use her language or at least be in an environment helping Hispanics. We've done the online thing and are coming up with nothing. What else can we do

She has a major in International Business and her masters in Spanish. She's smart as a whip, very organized, detailed and can handle project/time management with ease. She doesn't want to deal with managing people or be in a disciplinarian setting.

We've already gone through Monster, Career Builder and the other major jobs sites and they just lead to nothing. We're in Atlanta and we're up for relocating if needed.

She DOES NOT want to be in an education setting. She'd prefer non profit or corporate however she has considered home schooling kids.

Any help?
posted by Hands of Manos to Work & Money (28 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Union organizer?
posted by HotPatatta at 2:49 PM on August 4, 2008

A wing of my family sells legitimate, for-profit-but-no-shenanigans auto-home-life insurance in a predominantly Hispanic area. They tell me most of their customers are constantly getting ripped off by others because they are generally uneducated and lack English skills (e.g. paying exorbitant rates for insurance packages they don't need and won't ever use).

Similarly, another friend of mine is a mortgage broker doing essentially the same thing -- honestly helping uneducated folks wind their way through a complicated process that most English-speakers find difficult.

They both like being able to help people and make honest money doing it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:59 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: HotPatatta, where would she even start to look for that? (and thanks for your response)
posted by Hands of Manos at 2:59 PM on August 4, 2008

Bilingual proofreading or copy editing? She could take a proofreading or copy editing class online; that would be a good way to make contacts with folks in publishing or communications who are looking for someone with your wife's language skills on top of proofing/editing skills.
posted by scody at 3:01 PM on August 4, 2008

The hospital I work for is almost always looking for translators. It's not just about fluency, though; there's normal fluency and medical terminology fluency. There seems to be a decent amount of advocacy involved in helping patients get to the resources they need. To find these jobs, you'd want to look at the local hospitals' employment sections; here in CT they don't often advertise on third-party sites.
posted by cobaltnine at 3:02 PM on August 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Your profile says you live in Mexico, so I don't know if this will work, but health care providers my state (NM) are always hiring spanish translators and educators. Here's an example.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 3:08 PM on August 4, 2008

Localisation Project Manager
posted by slimepuppy at 3:09 PM on August 4, 2008

Dur, you say you're in atlanta.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 3:10 PM on August 4, 2008

With those degrees, she should be able to get into the Spanish-language business market, such as handling communications for companies that have offices in Latin America or helping English-only companies reach Hispanics. This doesn't have much save-the-world goodness, though.

Re HotPatatta's idea: I just searched Monster for "fluent Spanish labor organizer" and got several relevant hits. It looks like "community organizer" is a better search term.
posted by PatoPata at 3:10 PM on August 4, 2008

Response by poster: wow thanks for these great responses!

Yeah we used to live in Mexico but have since moved. I just never update my Mefi profile, guess I should
posted by Hands of Manos at 3:15 PM on August 4, 2008 hs a great search engine for non-profit jobs of all levels (entry to executive). it also lets you narrow a search by language. i'm a former community organizer who got great leads from there in he past.

in general, spanish skills are highly valuable for jobs at social service agencies in areas with large Latino populations.
posted by jk252b at 3:17 PM on August 4, 2008

When you say she doesn't want to be in an education setting, do you just mean not in a school-type environment, or that she doesn't want to use her teaching skills at all? If it's not the latter, I'm under the impression that bilingual Certified Health Education Specialists are in some demand. People with CHES certification can teach, either, but also work in Government, Healthcare, Non-profit (particularly outreach programs), and other environments.
posted by j-dawg at 3:20 PM on August 4, 2008

I priced getting some legal documents translated into Spanish and was surprised by how expensive it was. I'm not sure how much of that funnels down to the translators, but you might try applications to various translation services (particularly legal ones if she has the aptitude for this -- the translations of legal terminology might get more money) Alternatively she could offer herself out as a translator on Craigslist, which I also tried pricing out -- translations priced through Craigslist were notably cheaper but still (to me) surprisingly expensive.

She could also try to apply for a job as a legal assistant at a law firm, which oftentimes just requires interest and a college degree. The Spanish translation skills could come in handy there; some firms consider this as part of their hiring decision.
posted by onlyconnect at 3:21 PM on August 4, 2008

Response by poster: j-dawg, yeah classroom teacher. She's fed up with the politics, administration and children so nothing there.
posted by Hands of Manos at 3:23 PM on August 4, 2008

It's still in the education field, but what about working with textbooks and educational software training? The textbooks in my school often have ELL or Spanish language components in them. Seven years of classroom experience should be plenty to get her started.
posted by lemonwheel at 3:25 PM on August 4, 2008

This is kind of a weird idea: how about being on call as an interpreter for the police and courts?
posted by Class Goat at 3:44 PM on August 4, 2008

Every court system in any decent-sized city needs good translators.
posted by mmf at 3:46 PM on August 4, 2008

seconding Class Goat's suggestion of court interpreter...a relative of mine is a county prosecutor, and she has a lot of very minor cases that involve people who don't understand English very well. I think the court pays around $30-40 per case (and sometimes they go through 2-4 cases an hour) for interpretation services.
posted by Mimzy at 3:51 PM on August 4, 2008

What about helping local Spanish-language business owners apply for loans and other assistance? Perhaps banks and credit unions need someone with business/financial experience to translate their materials and provide services to an underserved community?

And a random idea for a place to live/work: Puerto Rico?
posted by mdonley at 3:56 PM on August 4, 2008

Seconding localization project manager. She's perfect for it. I manage a localization group - drop me a mefi mail if you want to chat more about it.
posted by Wolfie at 4:00 PM on August 4, 2008

Also, you might want to check out legal aid societies in your area. They often need translators/paralegal type help.
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:39 PM on August 4, 2008

Best answer: Re: the union organizer suggestion, she can look at to find jobs and get a sense of requirements. SEIU, which is the fastest-growing union in the country, serves a large Spanish-speaking constituency, has a training program for new organizers. Anyway, it does sound like a good possibility for your wife - it's a hard job, but rewarding and requires the kinds of skills your wife has. It pays a bit better than teaching and there is lots of room to advance. With her business background, she could become a field rep, or a trainer with her ed background. As you can probably tell, I have an organizing background and have worked with unions a lot. If your wife is interested and gas more questions, have her MeMail me.

Also, my cousin used to be a court translator, it pays very well, but requires really exceptional, simultaneous, translation skills.
posted by lunasol at 6:40 PM on August 4, 2008

Any area that relies heavily on migrant agricultural workers needs interpreters for advocacy & healthcare...most of the western US.
posted by kattyann at 8:06 PM on August 4, 2008

I'm in a similar situation, looking for a job where I can use my native Spanish, years of experience and post grad education. A lot of the healthcare and legal interpreter jobs in my area (Bay Area) require specific training and certification. Other jobs where Spanish are a central requirement unfortunately do not pay enough to cover my current level of expenses (i.e. retail jobs, case worker positions etc). I'm currently applying to several project management positions, we'll see how it goes. Best of luck!
posted by papalotl at 9:04 PM on August 4, 2008

bi-lingual library employee, specializing in outreach services for at-risk children and families.

I'm interviewing applicants right now, and it's difficult to find someone.
posted by bradth27 at 9:54 PM on August 4, 2008

This would not likely be her Dream Job, but the VR telephone captioning co. I work for is constantly looking for Spanish speaking captionists (who are paid more than English-only). I don't happen to be a Spanish speaker, but I love that a super underrepresented group (Hisp., hard of hearing) can now talk on the telephone like just about everyone else.

Might there be something similar to Centro Hispano in your community? Bilingual workers are regularly needed in state health and social services or dept. of workforce development. And on hospital staff.

I might be a little off-base in thinking of possibilities for which she is likely overqualified or might be underpaid given her qualifications, but nothing like a good brainstorm to shake loose ideas that will be useful for her. Good luck.
posted by mcbeth at 11:41 PM on August 4, 2008

I would suggest court interpreter. Atlanta has a substantial hispanic community. In order to work for the federal courts she would have to take and pass a test. However, if she has a degree, she can work in the state system to start. There are different court systems for the counties ringing Atlanta (this is a simplification); what that means is that if she can't get a position in Cobb county, she could try DeKalb. I'd try the federal system first. Call (spend time on the phone) or go to the Clerk's office in Atlanta. Ask for the number of the court interpreter's office. If there isn't a permanent position you could ask to be a substitute. The substitute concept also works as a way to get your foot into the door in the state systems as well. Note that appellate courts do not use interpreters.

It's difficult to find regular translation work, even if you're working for an agency. I don't remember if there's a Spanish newspaper in Atlanta; I think there's a weekly. Getting on as a reporter is probably out of the question, but the business side would usually be receptive to a sales position, especially on a commission basis.

Good luck.
posted by tesseract420 at 1:08 AM on August 5, 2008

Coming in late here, but how about Language Line?

A friend of mine works for them and is basically on call for people who need translation. You can pick your hours.
posted by SallyHitMeOntheHead at 10:48 AM on September 19, 2008

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