Asian Studies Alumni Spotlight with Melody Pan

Interested in what you can do with a degree in Asian Studies? In our Alumni Spotlight Interview Series, we ask our alumni about their career paths, how they became interested in Asian Studies and for any advice they would give to current students. This Interview features Melody Pan (BA 2014 Asian Language in Culture: Japan). Melody is currently a freelance translator.

Melody Pan1. How did you get your first job after graduating?

I attended the Annual BC Japanese Speech Contest in March, 2014 (thanks Kim-sensei) and just happened to be sitting next to someone who worked at Bandai Namco Studios Vancouver. We spoke briefly about video games and connected on Facebook. A few months later, he approached me and asked if I would be interested in applying for their new bilingual office assistant position. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity. The next week, I interviewed with them but ended up not getting the position. They were looking for someone with more work experience.

However, about a week later, my Bandai Namco friend sent me another message to ask if I would be interested in becoming a translator for them, instead. Being the ASLC (Japan) graduate that I was, this sounded like the perfect opportunity for me to put the Japanese skills I acquired at UBC to good use! I wasted no time in sending him another copy of my resume, which he forwarded to his boss. The company got back to me a few days later to schedule an interview date.

As this translator position was an unlisted one, it seemed I was going to be among a very small number of candidates. I was desperate to make things work out, and ended up being a nervous wreck going into the interview, but the company was pleased with my abilities and I ended up being hired. However, none of this would have happened if not for my fateful encounter a few months earlier.

2. What kind of work did you do at Bandai Namco?

I translated documents and interpreted meetings from Japanese to English, as well as English to Japanese. I’m not allowed to say more!

3. How is the Japanese-English translation industry in Vancouver? Are there a lot of opportunities? or is it difficult?

While there aren’t many job postings for in-house Japanese-English translators here in Vancouver, this isn’t to say there are no opportunities to do translation. Often times, translation is a component of another position, such as office assistant or producer. Strictly translator positions may be short-term ones, and positions with a translation component are more long-term.

4. What advice would you give to senior students looking for a job?

Go to networking events, do some volunteering. Set up a Linkedin profile and start connecting. The most important thing is to get out there and not just meet, but engage with lots of people – tell them a bit about your interests. Sending a resume to a company that has heard of you puts you ahead. Also, while it is entirely possible that you may not find the perfect job, the perfect job may find you through your connections.

5. What advice would you give to students hoping to enhance their university experience? Were there any things that you did that you thought put you ahead?

I’m sure many people think that university is anything but fun, and you’re not wrong! University in itself is not fun. Rather, it is how you engage with it that dictates whether or not it becomes a rewarding experience.

My advice is to get out there and get involved! Don’t just join a club and attend their events, see how you can become someone who plays a part in organizing those events. Also, find out how you can volunteer at university-run events. People will appreciate you for the time you spend, and new opportunities will come knocking. I assure you, this is not something I got out of a fortune cookie!

During my undergrad years, I was an executive of the Asian Studies Interest Association in charge of organizing academic events, such as professor luncheons and afternoon tea. I also attended and volunteered at several Asian Studies Department events throughout the years.

My involvement, allowed me to engage with a lot of students, professors, our department, alumni, and the local community, which subsequently resulted in my first job.

6. What do you have planned next?

I recently finished my in-house contract at Bandai Namco, and am now involved in a number of volunteer causes centering on Japan-Canada relations. I continue to have ties with Bandai Namco as a freelance translator, but am always looking for new opportunities to use my skills.