Phrasee pheatures: Trevor Beers
Senior Language Technician
3 minutes read time | 23 July 2020
For those studying linguistics, it can be tricky to find roles outside of academia. Trevor Beers, a Senior Language Technician at Phrasee was recently interviewed for the Undergraduate Linguistics Association of Britain’s online magazine, U-Lingua. In this Phrasee Pheature, Trevor share his insights on where different educational backgrounds can take you, the skills you need to know about and actionable advice for those looking to join the tech industry.
1. What is your current job?
I’m a Senior Language Technician at Phrasee, the AI-Powered Copywriting pioneer which is a London-based scale-up that uses natural language generation and machine learning to deliver high-performing marketing copy to customers like eBay, Groupon and Domino’s.
2. How did you come to be in your current role?
This was my first job after finishing my masters. It was the only job (that wasn’t translating) that came up when you searched for ‘linguistics’ on LinkedIn. Even though my job is a technical role, previous coding knowledge wasn’t a prerequisite for getting hired. Phrasee opts to fill its Language Team with people who come from linguistics and foreign language backgrounds instead.
3. What do you do in your current role?
I work on the team the builds bespoke language generation models. Every client has a unique tone of voice and marketing strategy, so each model is different. I was specifically hired to be an American English linguist as Phrasee hires native speakers for all languages we build models for.
Trevor with some of his Language Team colleagues at Phrasee’s 5th birthday party.
4. How did you first become aware of the field of NLP and got in contact with it?
My current job, actually. I used to think NLP was very far removed from linguistics (my impression was that it lived in computer science). I was never really in love with maths or tech, so I never went down that route. Plot twist—now I work with our Data Science team part time and love it. It turns out programming is really cool when you use it as a tool to do linguistic work.
5. What is your educational background?
I did my undergrad in English and Classics at the University of Texas at Arlington and my masters in English Language at the University of Edinburgh. At Edinburgh I studied all the fascinating (and arguably unemployable) subjects like Old and Middle English, Scots, Dialectology and History of the English Language.
6. How did you become interested in linguistics in the first place?
I took a History of the English Language course in the final year of my undergrad. I was always into grammar and writing in school, but this course made me realise there was an entire field I didn’t know about.
7. What advice would you give undergraduates looking for a career in your field?
If you work in linguistics (outside of academia), your job will likely involve Python coding. A good understanding of Python is a great skill to have alongside a formal education in linguistics. Also, keep your eye on the Phrasee careers page of course!
If you’re interested in joining the awesome Phrasee team, check-out our careers page to see if there’s a position that’s right for you!