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Global Career Roadmap: Right Time, Right Place for a Perfect Job Fit

By: Stephanie Gabriel, Global Business Consultant

11 December 2019

Few people graduate from university and land their dream job right away. Sometimes, though, things just fall right into place in a brilliant example of the famous quote attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca, “luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” Speaking with Amy Grace O’Brien, you get the feeling, she has lived this motto.

Like many of us, Amy studied language in school and at the university, majoring in French and Spanish at the University of Nottingham. She had an eye for detail and decided that she wanted to go into translation. She continued on to do a Master’s in translation and interpreting in her home town of Manchester, assuming it would be excellent preparation for this kind of career. Like many in an academic setting, she was preparing for a translation career in what she assumed would be literary translation or interpreting for government agencies.

Toward the end of her Master’s program, she had the opportunity to apply for and secured an internship doing product marketing for a financial company.  It was a dream job for someone just finishing college and a great way to get exposure to the corporate translation and localization industry. It was during her internship that she realized there were many opportunities beyond literary translation and that her value as a native-English speaker with language skills were treasured in this space. After finishing her internship she felt prepared to start applying for translator positions to launch her career in translation. She started her first full-time role at an email marketing company called Neolane, doing technical translations from French into English. While this wasn’t what she had prepared for at the university, she had taken the time post-graduation to get the skills needed to be successful in this role. The opportunity was fortunate and her years of preparation were paying off. What luck! And she got luckier.

A short 6 weeks after starting full time at Neolane, the company was acquired by Adobe. Those who have been through an acquisition know that this can be a very uncertain time, especially when you have just recently started a job. There are decisions made about structures, teams and goals that you have no influence over. But that didn't stop Amy from continuing to do her work.

After the acquisition, Amy leaned into the new role, exploring areas where she could further develop her interests in the technical side of localization. She created a 2-way algorithm that detected consistency between the source and target languages that saved time and money for the team and led to a much more consistent experience. Soon, opportunity presented itself again in the form of a promotion to terminologist in the globalization team at Adobe. Amy’s continued focus on learning and preparation fit right into the opportunity. She is now an international experience manager under the title of Language Intelligence Manager at Adobe and continues to develop her career and help others do the same.

Aside from her personal growth, there were several other key areas that have contributed to her success at Adobe. Having an informal mentor, her manager Guta Ribeiro at Adobe, was critical to her success. She helped Amy navigate the large organization and got her involved in initiatives where she could be recognized for her contributions. Also, Adobe, as a company, supports women in technology fields through partnership with organizations like Women Unlimited and actively sends employees to speak and attend conferences in their field. Being in the right place at the right time with the right people and the right preparation were all very important in her journey.

What does the future hold for Amy? She said that the most gratifying part of her role is showing people the things they hadn’t seen and hadn’t thought to look for. Amy enjoys opening up people’s perspectives and seeing them make realizations. In the future, she would like to see localization and globalization be right there with feature and product creation. For her the immediate question should be how to reach international audiences through language and cultural considerations which should happen at the development stage. For others who are building their careers, she recommends looking for areas that interest them, preparing for future opportunities and reaching for them when they show up. She believes everyone can turn their passions into a dream job.

Stephanie Gabriel

Growing up in Hawai’i, surrounded by diverse cultures and languages, I developed a natural interest in transforming words. After studying French and German in Portland, Oregon, I moved to Europe and worked as a translator there. This early experience, along with my desire to help and teach, have prepared me very well for my 15+ year career in localization. In addition to working with clients, I enjoy writing, swimming, walking and traveling.