Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Stephanie Huston

Name: Stephanie Huston
Age: 23
Major while at UR: B.A. in Linguistics, University of Rochester, 2010
Occupation: Senior Linguistic Analyst
Current city/state of residence: Philadelphia, PA
Community activities: Crisis counselor for a suicide prevention hotline, hiking

When and how did you choose your major?

I actually chose my major before entering college—I believe I was a junior in high school. The way I chose linguistics originally was from watching an episode of Law and Order in which a psycho-linguist was brought in to analyze interrogations. While this was a misguided representation of linguistics, it sparked me to do further research on the science and find my niche.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

Two weeks after graduation I started with Verilogue Inc (a pharma market research company) as a Linguistic Analyst. I had originally planned to do grad school at Georgetown, but was unexpectedly offered this “perfect” job, so I decided to defer my acceptance to Georgetown and work for a year. I chose this path to ensure that when I went to grad school, it would be in an area I could maintain a long-term career.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

Right now I still work at Verilogue Inc. I decided not to go back to Georgetown yet because I absolutely love my job and receive a lot of empowerment to create new analyses and take on management roles. I still plan to go back for an advanced degree eventually, but I have a job I love and I make a very good living, so right now I am completely satisfied.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

I am one of the fortunate few who have found a job using their degree. I use a lot of skills and knowledge from my years at UR and from my linguistics major. Most specifically, I use concepts from psycholinguistics, pragmatics, and corpus analysis (on which my honors thesis was based).

How do you balance your work and professional life?

That is certainly an area of constant struggle. I used to think I was busy in college, but that was nothing compared to the work I put in now. I love my job, and I am fascinated with the analyses and projects I have, but I certainly put an exceptional amount of time in. The most important thing for me is to put a cut-off time every night and stick to it. 7pm the laptop has to close and I go to the gym to unwind.

Where would you like to be in five years?

This is an interesting question. While I am still evaluating aspects of my life, from a career standpoint I would like to continue in the field of medical linguistics, progressing in the pharmaceutical industry for a while.  I can see making my way into forensic linguistics and governmental work, but that may be more than five years down the line.

What advice do you have for current students?

You don’t have to know what you want out of life when you’re 20 years old and it is counterproductive to stress about it throughout your college experience. Understanding yourself, and understanding what you don’t want is just as important as figuring out what you do want. Take a deep breath, enjoy your time, and learn as much as you can—I can genuinely say I miss learning in a classroom (never thought I’d say that).