Conversation with an Engineering graduate turned Linguist!

Conversation with an Engineering graduate turned Linguist!

Interview with Swathiga - Duolingo is one of the most popular app / website for learning languages


Millions of engineering students, or in any other field, pursue their programs, whether they are passionate about that or not. That shows up in placements, after their graduation. But if you happen to find your passion, sky is the limit.

Meet Ms. Swathiga, an engineering student with a chance encounter with a language app, that helped her find her passion and took her to a new career, that she hadn't planned on, before.

Swathiga joined Instrumentation Engineering in a college near Chennai, affiliated to Anna University. She went through the first group (Mathematics, Physics & Chemistry) in 12th standard, followed by engineering counseling and joined her BE in Instrumentation.

What follows is an excerpt of her interview with ACG (All Career Guru) team.

ACG: When you joined Instrumentation engineering, at that point, did you know what instrumentation engineering was, or whether that is what you wanted to do.

S: No, I did not. I joined because the college I was going to was a decent one, and this program is where I got placed.

ACG: How did you cope with early semester exams?

S: Right from semester 2, I realized that engineering was not my cup of tea, but couldn't give up, and didn't want to waste parents' money; and I was exploring other things, at my leisure...

ACG: What alternatives were you exploring?

S: I was doing electronics; doing programming course in Quora/Udemy for coding; then I came across a language leaning app, Duolingo, which I hooked on to, and I realized my passion then for languages.

ACG: Tell me about Duolingo.

S: Well, you could download from Playstore and I started learning German through that App.

ACG: Why German?

S: I was going through articles online, career in electronics, and the many opportunities in Germany; Though I was not sure of my engineering interest, if I was going for MS, it was likely going to be in Germany. Duolingo is a great app to learn language; since I couldn't afford private language training, I stayed with the app and YouTube channels for my German.

ACG: How did you know that you have a passion for this?

S: Using the app, I picked up vocabulary quickly. I had no difficulty in learning, and I can't say the same about my college courses. Also, now I am doing A1 in French, and learning Japanese through YouTube.

ACG: What were your next steps, while in engineering college?

S: I kept my interest in languages through Youtube. I managed to complete studies. I managed to pick up Java along the way and got my initial job. While on the job, I enrolled in Goethe Institute, the officially recognized institute, which conducts exams and provides certifications for language proficiency; there are similar institutes for other European languages and Japanese.Conversation with an Engineering graduate turned Linguist!

ACG: What are the different programs in German?

S: Any European language has 6 levels, from A1/A2, to B1/B2 to C1/C2, the last one is comparable to native proficiency; I have completed 5 levels in German.

ACG: How is the schedule for this program?

S: Mostly during weekends; each level is up to 3 months, and the last one, 7 to 8 months, 8 hours per week.

ACG: What is the requirement to register for the program?

S: These programs are rigorous; one needs to attend classes regularly, learn seriously so we can showcase the skills..

ACG: What are the fees?

S: Each level costs Rs 25000, 8 hours per week for 3 months; they run multiple batches. Last due to covid lockdown, classes have been virtual.

ACG: How are the job prospects for these programs?

S: Minimum Level B2 is needed for jobs, and every multinational company (MNC), including for example Amazon and Infosys, has requirements for translators and interpreters.

ACG: What does the work involve?

S: We work as translators; In my case, at the MNC, I translate the company catalogues from German to English and vice versa, and participate in meetings and function as an interpreter to communicate to technical teams on both countries, for projects.

ACG: Are there lot of jobs, in this field? Are they growing?

S: Yes, they are constantly growing; there are even opportunities teaching German at many universities, for students who want to go Germany for higher studies or for other reasons

ACG: Did all people in your batch get jobs?

S: In my batch, most students were going abroad for higher studies so that was their reason for being there. With 1 to 2 years of investment, one can reach the highest level of proficiency. I spend 2 additional hours per day watching news, official YouTube websites, etc...

ACG: How did you get your current job?

S: Through Naukri/LinkedIn channels, Goethe also has notice board that provides teaching openings. For entry level job, B level proficiency will be enough but for (part time teaching in) college, C1 level is usually preferred.

ACG: Besides proficiency, what else is needed if you want to be a teacher in German schools? Do you need B Ed for example?

S: No need for B Ed, only proficiency is required; Goethe institute provides that.

ACG: What are the career prospects after you gain entry level positions? You move up by taking higher level trainings?

S: It comes through experience and proficiency; extra level may not add much to career but provides confidence.

ACG: What are the salaries?

S: After B1 level, salary is easily around INR 30,000 take home per month for freshers, and more as per experience.

ACG: Thank you for your time Swathiga and good luck with your career.

S: Thank you. All the best for your readers and wish them to follow their passion.