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Thread poster: Richard Bartholomew

Richard Bartholomew  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:02
Member (2007)
German to English
Jun 2, 2008

For those who left a different profession to become full time translators, how difficult do you think it would be to acquire work at the same level in that profession again? That is, how difficult would it be compared with the difficulty of switching jobs never having been a full time translator.

Do professional skills in some fields decay more rapidly with disuse than in other? Do you think your professional translation experience would actually make it easier to reenter your previous profession?

Just curious


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:02
English to Spanish
+ ...
Didn't look back Jun 2, 2008

When I left my last job 22 years ago I never looked back. It was just another job in a bureaucracy.

I could be just "retired" now, but I can still translate and live the life of a retired man anyway; I'll never have to go back. And as a profession, translation is much, much better.

[Editado a las 2008-06-02 22:09]


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The Misha
Local time: 00:02
Russian to English
+ ...
Depends on the subject area Jun 3, 2008

I hate to ruin the fun for you, but your ship may have sailed. If you are talking about anything remotely technical, such as finance , computer programming or engineering, you may never be able to get back in - unless someone in the right place gives you a gentle kick in the back on the way back in. Especially, if this is a hot area that attracts "the best and the brightest" in droves - such as high finance. Of course, a lot also depends on how badly you want it and what length you are prepared to go to in order to get it. In any case, be prepared to take a substantial cut in salary and status just to get in.

In business, finance and law (these are the subject areas I am most familiar with) your experience as a business, legal or financial translator wouldn't go too far in helping you secure an actual position in one of those areas. I would assume the same would apply to engineering and some such. Sorry, man, but for the most part we all have to live with the consequences of choices we made long ago.

P.S. If you haven't done so yet I suggest you read "Fooled by Randomness" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. One of the sad truths set forth there is that you may do everything right and follow all the rules - and still never make it. It is statistically inevitable and there is really no use trying to discount the possibility.


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Ivana Friis Wilson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:02
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
Now there's a book I'll never read! Jun 3, 2008

"P.S. If you haven't done so yet I suggest you read "Fooled by Randomness" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. One of the sad truths set forth there is that you may do everything right and follow all the rules - and still never make it. It is statistically inevitable and there is really no use trying to discount the possibility. "

My God! That's got to be the worst book recommendation I have ever seen.

You translators really are a depressing bunch

On topic: I think that having been a self employed freelance translator you have aquired lots of important skills that any employer would benefit from - you have learned to discipline yourself, make deadlines, work independently etc. - and you now understand the boss-situation. A friends of mine has just decided to look for "a prope job" after beeing a translator for a few years and I think her job chances have improved massively.

You need to look at the positive skills you now have - and there are tons. The fact that you have been away from your other specialisation just means that you now have a different perspective - you can see it from the outside and you now know how you could approach it differently - maybe even better.

I would advice that you read "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" (read about it on wikipedia) - now that's a book that will get you going, very much word a read. I reread itevery now and again, just to remind myself of how great I am


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:02
English to Dutch
+ ...
Agree with The Misha and Henry Jun 3, 2008

In certain areas, changes are so fast, any experience and knowledge is outdated in only a few years.
If you're talented and willing to do courses, trainings etc. you may be able to crawl back. But if there are other applicants for the job, this is going to be a serious point to consider.
You need to see this from the employer's point of view. Do you have what they want? That depends on the subject area indeed, both the subject area you worked in as a translator and the area you want to work in.

I can imagine secretaries, teachers, tour guides, business and legal consultants etc. could step back in with relative ease.
Software engineers, civil engineers, architects, chemical engineers and such will probably have a much harder time.

But then, why on earth would you want to?


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:02
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Two years of intensive training... Jun 3, 2008

...is what I'd need today in order to enter the world of computer programming after nearly 13 years working full-time in localisation and translation. So the only difficulty would be that I'd need to have enough money to live for two years while I retrain... and after that I'd need luck to join some interesting project or team.

But I am really happy with translation after all this time (I have been active longer in translation than in programming), so I really doubt I will be a programmer again apart from amateur things or tools for us here.


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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 05:02
French to English
+ ...
No way back in IT Jun 3, 2008

Tomás,

Let's look at the numbers. You've been translating for 13 years and that is longer than you were programming. Let's assume you were programming for 10 years. Let's also assume you started right out of university at age 22. That makes you approximately 45 now. Add two years for the training and you get 47.

Do you honestly think any company is going to hire a 47-year old programmer with entry-level skills?

If you know of such a company, I would love to hear about it because I'm a 52-year old ex-IT director who can't even get an acknowledgement that my CV was received.

Terry


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Richard Bartholomew  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:02
Member (2007)
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
So you've tried it. Jun 3, 2008

Terry Richards wrote:

If you know of such a company, I would love to hear about it because I'm a 52-year old ex-IT director who can't even get an acknowledgement that my CV was received.

Terry


Have you been pursuing direct position or have you also looked for subcontracting work?

Occasionally I get calls or email from headhunters who've come across my resume somewhere. Some of the assignments they describe match my former skill set pretty closely. When I tell them I'm presently working as a technical translator, some of them still try to convince me to take their client's assignment.

I have a feeling that age discrimination is more a function of issues like bloated salaries, health insurance burden and immobility than of atrophied professional abilities. As a subcontractor, the contracting agency handles those nasty little social benefits problems for the client. You just dig in and solve the client's problems. The client can also get rid of you pretty much any time he or she feels like it: no muss, no fuss. Try that with a direct employee, especially if there's a union involved.

Translation agencies and subcontracting agencies have plenty in common. If you've worked with one, you'd feel right at home with the other.

The employment market is also an important factor. During the dot com boom in the late 1990s, I sometimes had two or three recruiters per week call me practically begging me to jump ship and work for their clients. After the bust, on the other hand, I couldn't find work to save my life. Unfortunately, the current US market resembles more the later than the former.

Naturally, this is all academic; I haven't tried interviewing for a technical assignment since taking up translation. Why would I? Two reasons:

o money and
o to improve my translation ability.

Honestly, though, I'm significantly happier as a translator than I had been for years in my former profession.


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:02
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Alternatives... Jun 3, 2008

Terry Richards wrote:
Do you honestly think any company is going to hire a 47-year old programmer with entry-level skills?


Terry, precisely the two-year training would take me to a level above "entry-level"... Otherwise 3 months training would be enough I reckon...

But I know it would be difficult. That's why I never consider it seriously. I am working along another line of business, and a very different one: becoming a producer (namely almonds). My intention is not leaving the world of translation, but adding some income from something that is enormously fun to me.


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Laura Tridico  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:02
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
It really depends on your career... Jun 3, 2008

as others mentioned. In most cases, I think it's possible to either return to a former career or start something new, but it isn't necessarily easy and might require extensive retraining and sacrifice. I can imagine it would be extremely challenging to get back into the IT world, given how quickly technology changes. The nice thing is, as a freelance translator, you could pursue the necessary training while continuing to work. For me this is one of the biggest benefits of freelancing - you can fit your work around your life (rather than the other way around).

In my case it would be tough to go back into law. I worked at a large corporate law firm, and once you step off that advancement track it's pretty much impossible to hop back on. Fortunately there are plenty of ways to practice law without working for a big firm, but I wouldn't be able to jump back in where I left six years ago. I imagine I could work as a contract attorney for a while to regain my skills before finding something permanent. Luckily, I don't have to worry because I plan on translating for a long time - it's interesting, the pay is decent and the flexible schedule is fantastic.


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:02
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Forget IT Jun 3, 2008

From your resume, it looks like your last experience with IT was 2007? So your skills are more or less up to date... Never mind you missed a few updates in the impressive(!) list of programming languages.
However would somebody hire you after a couple of years of being a freelancer, would they think that you would be too "free sprited" to go back into the office life, (not being used to bosses anymore, making your own decisions, determining your own working hours)...
They would probably suspect you to start your own business as soon as opportunity knocks again...
...and people would probably prefer a young university graduate who works for peanuts anyway...
You could probably become the manager of an IT-department, or something more commercial....You probably gained some skills in those areas during your freelance life...

Theoretically, you should be able to go back into your old job (within 1 -2 years) , even if you would become an independant consultant, programmer or the like...
But hey, who would want to?

Ed Vreeburg
Translate.ED


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Stephanie Sirot  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:02
English to French
+ ...
Depends on the career, depends on the country you live in Jun 3, 2008

Terry Richards wrote:

Tomás,

Let's look at the numbers. You've been translating for 13 years and that is longer than you were programming. Let's assume you were programming for 10 years. Let's also assume you started right out of university at age 22. That makes you approximately 45 now. Add two years for the training and you get 47.

Do you honestly think any company is going to hire a 47-year old programmer with entry-level skills?

If you know of such a company, I would love to hear about it because I'm a 52-year old ex-IT director who can't even get an acknowledgement that my CV was received.

Terry


I guess living in France makes it very difficult due to the high unemployment rate and our culture based on pure discrimination when it comes to hiring.

In other countries, things can be very different. I agree with Laura. It also depends on your career. With courses and training, it should be possible to get back into a career, whatever it is. However, you shouldn't expect to be at the same level than when you left it.

Stephanie.

[Edited at 2008-06-03 21:40]


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