Determinations officer

Sarah Truesdale credits her Master of Arts in Linguistics for giving her the skills and understanding to work in the Department of Internal Affairs.

Sarah Truesdale

Key facts

Career: Determinations officer
Programme: Master of Arts
Subjects: Linguistics

“Ever since I was a small child, I’ve always been interested in languages. Studying linguistics gives you an overview of how language works in general and how it is intricately linked to our social and psychological behaviours. It’s also one of the most important ways human beings express their identity and identify with others, which I find fascinating.

“When I decided that I wanted to do a masters degree, I looked at a few different programmes. I ultimately decided that the University of Auckland had a better range of course choices for me and more researchers working in the areas of Oceanic and documentary linguistics, which was what I hoped to look at specifically.

“My dissertation was entitled “A critical reappraisal of discourses of Creolism: arguing for the strength of the substrate influence”. This involved looking at the fundamental patterns of development of Creole and Pidgin languages and examining and reassessing current and past thinking on this.

“Overall, it was a great experience. I had really supportive and knowledgeable lecturers who were only too happy to make time to help me when I needed it. The administrative staff were also very friendly and efficient. I was also very fortunate to have an excellent supervisor and mentor who has an amazing amount of knowledge in this field and was more than willing to help me develop my skills and understanding.

“I currently work in the Community Operations Team at the Department of Internal Affairs. In this role, I get to go out and visit community groups, go to (or help with) the provision of workshops and seminars, and interact with people I would not normally have the chance to meet. The role involves giving advice and support around the governance and organisation of community groups, their financial obligations, funding streams, meeting other groups, and discovering resources. Basically we help community groups to set themselves up properly and function effectively. There are so many great groups out there doing wonderful things.

“Although my MA does not specifically relate to what I do at the moment, it certainly helped in terms of my employability and my ability to write and communicate with people professionally. There are also some links between language identity and community development. In the future, I’d like to get into policy and research, hopefully using what I've learnt from linguistics and community development.”