Aug. 15, 2015

Alumni Spotlight: Michael J. Burak, BA'12 (Spanish, Linguistics and Languages)

Arts alumni are an accomplished crew. They have great advice for students and fellow graduates, and know that arts degrees teach skills that are sought-after in the professional environment.

Michael J. Burak graduated in 2012 with a BA in both Spanish and Linguistics and Languages. He is the founder and CEO of Languages in Motion Ltd., a company dedicated to providing industry specialized, certified-level Translators and Interpreters for individuals, small-medium size businesses, and large corporations. Burak first started working in translation when we founded the University of Calgary Translation Association, an undergraduate student club that became the inspiration for the business. While president of the club, Burak noticed there was a need for certified translation services in the city and found a niche to develop a Language Translation company that provides service in 65 languages. He also founded the International Translations and Interpreters Foundation, an organization that works to bridge the gap between the private and public sector while offering educational programs and seminars to aspiring translators and interpreters.

What is your favourite University of Calgary memory?

Among many things, the highlight was definitely winning the Club of The Year Award with the University of Calgary Translation Association in our first year of operations.

What was your favourite campus hang out spot?

Definitely the 10th floor or basement of MacKimmie Library until it was shut down – then TFDL in the offices or in the lounge area

If you could give one piece of advice to a student completing the same degree that you did, what would it be?

Go on exchange or study abroad for at least a semester or two. The experiences you gain and the people you meet, for roughly the same cost of doing school here, is unparalleled. Living in a different country with different language, culture and food will top the list of your best experiences in life.

What is the best thing about your job?

Truthfully, the best thing about my job is that daily, I get to be surrounded by people that speak so many different languages and are from many different cultures. Additionally, being part of an industry such as the Translation and Interpretation Industry, that is growing and beginning to be recognized as a legitimate profession, is exciting.

How did your arts degree help you get to where you are now/your current career?

It has helped me understand what it takes to be a translator or an interpreter. It has helped me to realize that not only do translators need to learn a second language, they need to master it with near-native fluency to effectively read and understand the text to be translated. It has also helped me make fantastic connections within the university, both as a student and as a grad.