Graduation Year: 2012
Major: Double Major in Russian Language and Literature/History
Why did you choose Russian as your major?
After taking a Russian Language course in the first semester of my Junior year at Rutgers, I became infatuated with the language. I started reading Russian Literature, fell in love with it, and wanted to be able to read it in the original. The literature courses and language courses fed into each other and bred my interest, and I decided I wanted to continue pursuing Russian after school. I was so obsessed with Russian that I stayed an extra year at Rutgers just to get the major in Russian Language and Literature!
What did you like most about it?
Learning another language, especially one with such an incredible culture, is rewarding in itself. Studying Russian helped me build skills in research, problem-solving, writing and communication. Learning about the history, literature, music and film helped form my worldview and life philosophy. It truly developed and matured me as a person, and it’s something I continue to take advantage of five years later.
What is your current position, what do you, and what do you enjoy most about it?
I currently work as a translator of Russian and Ukrainian documents into English. I work at a major translation agency, and most of what I do involves medical and legal documents. The experience has allowed me to put my reading and translation skills on another level. I have also learned a great deal about the subjects I translate, which has been a nice perk of the job.
What was your first job after Rutgers and how did you get it?
My first job after Rutgers was a position as a part-time Google Ads Quality Rater for Russian advertisements. It was helpful in developing my Russian reading comprehension, and prepared me for my future role in translation. I got the job simply through searching for work on the internet. I applied to as many jobs involving Russian that I possibly could, and this turned out to be a good fit.
How did you move from that first job to your current position?
I continued applying to Russian positions that popped up online, looking for something more permanent. All the while, I was practicing translation. I found it fun and interesting and potentially useful for my career to translate news articles, enter translation contests, and translate the literature that I love. Eventually, I was given a few tests for a position as an editor of Russian translations, and managed to pass them. I accepted the post and started editing translations, about 10,000 words per day, and this allowed me to get quite good at translating them myself. Finally, I took translation tests with this newfound knowledge and succeeded. That’s where I am today.
Looking back, what classes or experiences at Rutgers would you point to as contributing to your successes?
Every class I took at Rutgers in the Russian Department was very valuable to me. All the language courses helped me grow, and all the literature classes were incredibly interesting and helped improve my writing and research skills. The class that sticks out the most was one devoted to Russian poetry, taught by Emily Van Buskirk. I learned a great deal about poetry, in general. I felt like every poem we were assigned was a puzzle I had to figure out. The time, dedication, research, and language abilities necessary to truly comprehend the poetry made me appreciate it all the more. The skills I developed unlocking the secrets and beauty and life lessons in these works played a crucial part not only in my studies and work, but in how I approach things in life.
On top of that, the study abroad program in St. Petersburg was an amazing experience. I learned a great deal of Russian, made wonderful friends, managed to get to know a unique and beautiful city, and felt inspired to travel more and study Russian more seriously.
What advice do you have for our current Arts and Sciences students?
My advice would be to challenge yourselves. Throw yourself into the deep end and attempt things you don’t think you’re ready for. I tried translating Dostoevsky a year into learning Russian. While I didn’t produce anything to write home about, I found it fun and rewarding, and it helped me make great strides in Russian and translating. The same goes for speaking. I actually regret not putting myself in more uncomfortable situations and forcing myself to use my Russian speaking skills. The point is, making mistakes, whether in speaking or writing, is absolutely essential for growth. If everything feels easy and comfortable, you’re not learning effectively. Don’t be afraid!