From Translator to Localization Engineer Q&A With Certificate Grad Keely Byron
From Translator to Localization Engineer Q&A With Certificate Grad Keely Byron

Keely Byron had always been interested in foreign cultures and languages. After finishing college she moved to Spain, where she worked as a translator and English language instructor. But she was starting to feel hemmed in by her career options.

Keely Byron

So Keely began exploring other roles in the translation field and discovered the Certificate in Localization: Customizing Software for the World. The program opened her eyes to the array of career opportunities in the field of localization — and opened doors to good jobs. “Before I had even finished the program, I was able to get interviews,” she explained. “I would say the program was very instrumental to getting a job.”

After earning her certificate in 2015, Keely landed a localization position with a translation company. Here, Keely talks about her experience in the program and the career journey it made possible. 

Tell us a bit about your current job.

I am a localization engineering specialist at a company in Boston called LUZ. We specialize in life-science translation. Pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies submit their products or documentation to us for translation into different languages.

I prepare source files for translation, which involves sometimes manipulating the structure of the file itself, and convert the file into a translatable format for linguists to work with. I also help develop tools to streamline the localization process and automate aspects of the workflow.

What prompted you to choose the UW certificate program?

I realized the certificate in localization could be a great opportunity to combine my love for languages with my love for technology and learning new systems.

The UW program was really great because it encompassed everything I was looking for. The first course gave a broad introduction to the localization industry. Next, it went into localization engineering, which really piqued my interest. Then it finished off with a project management course, which was also super helpful.

What was it like taking the program online?

It allowed me to fit it into my schedule without having to uproot my life in Boston. The online format was easy to use, and those of us studying online could communicate with the professors and ask questions during class. Breakout sessions helped us interact with and work with students who were in the classroom or located in other parts of the world. This was a great networking opportunity, and it also gave me a glimpse into what it's like to work with a global team.

Do you think earning the certificate was helpful in getting a job?

It was extremely helpful. It's one thing to have language skills, and even to have worked as a translator, but having an inside view of the translation process gives you a serious advantage. Employers notice that — that you're invested in the industry and you've put in the time to educate yourself about it.

Did you have a software engineering background coming into the program?

I had learned a little bit about coding and programming on my own, but once I realized how relevant it can be to localization, that's really what motivated me to look into it more. The localization engineering class is where I really started picking up programming and learning other coding that's relevant for localization, and I knew that was the direction I wanted to go.

Are you using skills you learned in the program in your current job?

Definitely. We did a couple of workshops on Trados, which is a computer-aided translation technology that I use in my job every single day. I go back to my notes every so often from that class to look at how to translate different software files or to reference problem-solving exercises that we worked on in class.

What did you find most valuable about the program?

I entered the program not really knowing what I didn't know. Being able to open my eyes to all the different elements of the localization field — the technology used, the quality assurance measures, the relationships with linguists and vendor management — and how they fit together was really beneficial to my current career.

What advice would you give someone who's interested in this program or in getting into this field?

I would stress that there's so much with translation that people who aren't in the industry don't realize. There are so many different aspects of it. You shouldn't look at this program and think that you're locking yourself into one job. It really opens a lot of doors and there are a lot of different careers within the industry.


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