“Walk-in for Amazon” for the job title ‘Digital Content Associate,’ read a recruitment poster just outside Hayakawa Japanese Language school in Chennai. You could see similar posters in Max Mueller Bhavan (German Language Institute), including the one in Delhi, and probably across other foreign language institutions.
Companies, it turns out, are now looking for talent that is not in just professional colleges and universities. They are hunting for talent and are willing to pay competitively for foreign language students as well.
The recent recruitment drive conducted by Amazon is a case in point. At the Hayakawa Japanese Language school, Amazon was looking for Japanese language students who have completed their advance Japanese level (JLPT N3/N2). Previously, it was looking for people who had just completed a basic level (JLPT N5).
The pay package the company was willing to offer ranged between Rs 5 lakh and above per annum for the former, and up to Rs 2.6 - 3.6 lakh for the latter. The jobs are based in Chennai.
Yuko Shimizu, who runs the Japanese language school said, “First time they (Amazon) recruited, 3-4 months back, they were looking for freshers’ with basic Japanese language skill to do spell-checking for Japanese products and such. Around six people were selected out of the 40 who appeared."
In the second drive, Amazon was looking for a more sophisticated skill set. Now the e-retail giant wanted candidates who could speak, read and write Japanese. So apart from just proofreading, these candidates will also edit Japanese content such as book reviews on Amazon Kindle.
Gayathri Raghavan, 45 and a homemaker, was one of the two selected among the 10 who came for the job interview.
An excited Raghavan, who is getting back to the workforce after a gap of seven years, said, “I could not believe that I was doing so well in the interview. I took the Japanese language as a hobby when I was 42 and did not expect the chance to work for a company like Amazon.” Raghavan is a mother of two and was a school teacher seven years back.
Though Raghavan is not clear about her job profile, she explained that she will be editing Japanese content for the Amazon Kindle.
You could find similar stories for other foreign languages such as German and French going by the recruitments ads posted by the company on various platforms such as Linkedin, its own website and on other job search platforms.
A few years back the only job opportunities available for foreign language professionals like Raghavan were translation and interpretation. However, things are changing as localisation gains prominence with technology companies willing to invest to acquire more customers.
This means there are more options now for foreign language students and hence, more students enrol in foreign language courses now.
According to a 2016 report, the demand for foreign languages has accelerated due to adoption of technology-based products. This has resulted in three million foreign exchange students and is expected to add another 2.6 million, the report stated.
The data might not be too much of a stretch. Amazon has been on a localising spree for its products such as voice-assistant Alexa and deploying customised language site in each region. Apart from bigger companies entering the fray, we have also recently seen mushrooming of start-ups in the linguistic space such as Uniphore and Reverie.
Experts say at a time when job markets are down, burgeoning language industry opens up new opportunities for freshers and experienced people.So how much money and time do you need to get an advanced degree? Anywhere between Rs 50,000 to 70,000 depending on the school you enrol in, and a couple of years to have a mastery over the language.