Community

Traveling in Africa in 2021

Creating a Successful Career in AI Translation

By Blanca Vidal

E

mbarking on a career in artificial intelligence (AI) is an exhilarating journey that demands constant growth, and technical know-how is just the beginning. In this essay, I share the path that led me to a fulfilling career in AI translation, as well as my advice for forging a successful career of your own in the field.

Advertisement

My career story

I attended a university class on machine translation (MT) when it was first emerging. We dove into programming machines to replicate human language analysis. I was interested in being part of a highly specialized field and seeing how human linguistic processing was trying to be emulated in machines. Even though, at the time, the typical career path for linguists was to teach, I saw an opportunity when I discovered this emerging area of study. And it changed the course of my studies and then my professional life.

My focus on natural language processing (NLP) quickly evolved to training machines to do language tasks, as well as the categorization of terms according to meaning or semantics. After some years as a junior programmer, I then focused on quality assurance and project deployment, serving as the bridge between sales and technology. My managers were my mentors; they helped me forge my path to a career that aligned more closely with my interests and skills.

Today, I am a senior member of a team at United Language Group (ULG) delivering MT and AI solutions. It’s a position I find enjoyable and engaging, and it allows me to utilize language-focused tools every day.

Advertisement

Technical skills and expertise

If you are interested in pursuing a career in AI translation, training on machine learning and deep learning is a direct path to AI projects. Data management and data engineering are other key areas in AI. I recommend diving into programming, with a particular emphasis on Python, given its current dominance in the field. It is also important to build a foundation in mathematics, especially in statistics.

Additionally, acquiring specialized knowledge in areas where AI can be applied — such as NLP, computer vision, robotics, or biology — will further enhance your expertise, making you an attractive candidate or strong employee. AI is a piece of the puzzle, not the be-all and end-all. Engineering, project management, and other subjects will keep you on top of the field and will support your global career.

Essential soft skills

Besides technical expertise, don’t forget to invest in other qualities for a successful career in AI translation. It’s important to stay curious, adapt to trends, embrace creativity, and cherish collaboration with your peers.

AI is continually and rapidly evolving, so it is crucial to stay updated and learn the latest technologies and methodologies. What works one day may not be in fashion the next, so trends, education, and market research are critical. AI professionals must engage in continuous learning through online courses, workshops, conferences, and research papers. This not only provides learning opportunities, but also opens doors for collaborations and career advancements. Networking formally and informally is a way to keep up with trends and technology, as well.

Technology only works as well as the human who is using it. To be successful, you must be able to collaborate well with humans and technology, bridging gaps and finding opportunities to connect dots. Teamwork is a part of most projects, which involve a multidisciplinary approach. You must be an expert in your field who is comfortable in your role and knows how to connect people and things.

Lastly, a solutions-oriented, forward-thinking approach is important in an AI career. AI involves pure research, which means that many ideas don’t work on the first try and new solutions must be brought to the table again and again. A positive outlook will get you far in life and at work, so find the good in each day and learn from each project.

Advertisement

Empowering women in AI translation

Fostering gender diversity is critical to AI development, so we need to band together to engage and empower women, starting early. Professional groups and networking opportunities centered on women give space for young professionals to learn and grow together in community. These opportunities need to happen in the classroom and at the office. We must ensure that they have the training and support they need to thrive, no matter their level.

Finally, showcasing female-identifying workers in the field is a way to make sure their stories are not only told, but also held in high regard. Visibility is critical in supporting empowerment. I look forward to seeing the next generation grow.

Blanca Vidal is the MT Production Manager at ULG, a leading global LSP. She began her career in computational linguistic studies and has enjoyed growing within the AI industry.

Related Articles

careers, Database, niche skills, Questions for LocPros

What niche skills make your job easier?

By Stefan Huyghe

Have you also found that, very often, it is not your basic educational credentials but specialized niche skills that can make the biggest difference professionally?

→ Continue Reading