| by Jihong Zhou MATLM ’23


Zhou Jihong
Jihong Zhou MATLM ’23

Middlebury Institute graduates discuss where they are working today, how the Institute helped them get there, and what advice they’d give to current and future MIIS students.

My name is Jihong Zhou and I graduated with an MA in Translation and Localization Management from the Middlebury Institute in 2023. My language pair was Chinese-English. I am now a localization specialist working remotely with Mighty Media Studios, which is located in Bellevue, Washington.

In my new role at Mighty Media Studios, my main responsibility is to closely collaborate with colleagues and oversee the localization of video materials for Microsoft’s Xbox team, including live broadcasts, airshows, documentaries, events, and TV shows, in over 35 languages. This involves subtitles and dubbings, as well as quality control and troubleshooting. I also manage localization project budgets, coordinate with distribution teammates and vendors, present progress reports to peers, attend meetings to represent distribution services, provide localization guidance to marketing partners, and keep up-to-date with video game industry trends and news.

I first found this position on Indeed and applied with my résumé and cover letter. I then connected with the recruiter immediately on LinkedIn and right after I submitted my application through email. During my job search, I used a Google Sheet to track the status of all the positions I applied to; altogether I applied for more than 80 positions.

Several elements of my graduate school experience helped me launch my career:

1. Coursework

  • Advancing Your Localization Career, taught by Professor Eva Klaudinyova, where I practiced mock interviews and negotiation with teammates, enhancing my interview and negotiation skills.
  • Audio-Visual Localization, taught by Professor Max Troyer, which equipped me with the basic competencies and qualifications for this position in a video production company.
  • Advanced Localization Project Management, taught by Professor Yelena Proskurin, which gave me enough insights and concepts of project management to help me ace my interview questions.

2. Center for Advising and Career Services

Career advisors Winnie Heh and Edy Rhodes provided advice, résumé proofreading and editing, and mock interviews.

3. Practicum Project

Through my practicum project, LocReady, I built connections with professionals from the industry, as well as alumni. In my role as a social media manager, I became a content creator and contributor, whose work and posts were published and therefore public for interviewers to review.

4. TLM Mentorship Program

My mentor from Amazon helped me prepare interview questions for my mock interviews and even assisted me by being one of my professional references.

5. Reputation of the Middlebury Institute TLM Program

Our program enjoys a strong reputation in the video localization industry. The interviewers had connections with Institute alumni who strongly endorsed the graduates from our program.

Network, Prepare, Impress with Your Energy and Commitment

As far as advice for current students, from my own experience I have seven tips to share:

1. Quantity is important. Apply for as many positions as you can. I applied for more than 80 positions in two months and only got two interviews and three phone calls.

2. Categorize the positions you applied for or have an interest in, and don’t start out your practice interviews with the company or position(s) you are most interested in.

3. When doing mock interviews, listening to feedback, reflecting, and tracking your improvement are more important than just practicing. Try to step out of your comfort zone and find someone you are not familiar with to do mock interviews with, because you won’t know the real interviewers.

4. Do not assume that every interviewer has the same knowledge or background as you. The interviewers I have met with may have limited knowledge of localization and translation.

5. Your interview with a company starts with the very first contact (email, LinkedIn reach out, phone screen)—maybe not in a formal way, but it’s still worth your full attention. Practice interviewing and communicating using your cell phone or LinkedIn as well as on Zoom.

5. Try to sync with the vibe of the HR staff and hiring team in your first contacts with them. Show them your passion, energy, and willingness to learn more. You could even ask the HR representative who it is that might be on the next-stage interview so that you can research them.

6. Keep track of all the details related to each position in your job search—job title, start date, company, remote or on-site, application status, materials required, etc.

7. It’s not an individual or solo effort. Try to get help from everyone around you—your MIIS professors, industry mentors, classmates, career advisors (even from other programs), alumni, connections on LinkedIn, workshop instructors, guest speakers, senior students, and roommates, etc. And remember that they might become professional references later on if you reach the final round of the interview process.