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In-house vs. freelancer (very personal and detailed situation)
Thread poster: Leonardo Parachú

Leonardo Parachú  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:02
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 16, 2004

Dear all, (specially my friends from Argentina):

I´ve been working in-house for up to 1 year now, mainly as a translator/editor and assistant PM for a local agency in my hometown (Rosario, Argentina). It´s represented quite a change to my rigid and boastful I-can-do-it-all-better-than-anyone-else-narrow-minded attitude, to which I must admit I still adhere a little.

Thing is that in the last 10 months I´ve "learned" to use an average of 1 CAT + editor´s interface per week, the hard way, of course, I´ve become more and more of a 2nd/3rd/4th/Nth-look lover, and, most important I finally get some kind of recognition for my abilities. For the moment I don´t even own a good enough machine to even work for this agency at home, let alone go freelance... Not to mention that I´ve never been out of work for more than a week and collected quite a sum (see next paragraph for money matters) for which I´ll be forever in debt to BG, LR and FC, managing partners.

Question goes like this: I´m missing a few subjects (7 in all) to get my degree, I´m more than clumsy when it comes to negotiating rates and deadlines, I really admire anyone whose job is to handle those itchy subjects, I´m getting paid an average of U$S 0.03/U$S 0.001 x word translated/edited (consider I don´t own any Internet connection at home, I receive and hand in all of my work in the agency´s office, and that I can translate 2500-4000 a day and edit 5000-8000 a day, which all leaves me with some U$S 100 a day´s work [10 hours max]). Let us take 15 net working days a month, bingo: U$S 1500 a month. Ideally that should be my maximum "salary" as an in-house translator/editor (I have never rounded up to less than U$S 400).

As you can imagine, those above are the in-house pros, now the cons:

Working 9 to 5+: I just happen to translate better at night, preferably with a glass of wine or beer beside me (don´t pick on me on that, only one) and listening to hard rock/heavy metal/classic rock and the like as inner fuel. Not that I depend on them to do my job but they certainly help my mind get to that special state where words seem to come out hellishly naturally (I´m pretty sure you know what I´m talking about). Obviously I cannot enter the office with a "porrón" (1.7 pints beer) or get abstracted into my walkman´s earphone jacks (I would be more than rude to my peers, even more rude than I naturally tend to be).

Having to respond to end client only through my "immediate client" or "boss" or even "representative", sometimes (very rarely indeed) leading to misunderstandings or de-personalization of my work.

Realizing I have translated/edited 70 projects (some 1,500,000 words) which bear no signature at all (thank God for some were nearly dreadful) but the agency´s (I guess this would also be the case as a freelancer).

Working at the agency´s pace. They surely know how to fly. I surely know how to walk, maybe run a little.

Having more money than I can handle (or am accostumed to handle), and having to meet people who naturally spend sums I could just now afford and not mixing, I mean: they take taxis, I walk home, they travel abroad, I watch a Charlie Chaplin film.

I don´t expect any saviour reply with the one and only solution/way out from you since I don´t consider this a problem. Just looking for comments on your experience as in-house translators/freelancers, specially when it comes to dealing with clients (working out job estimates, deadlines, etc...)

Many thanks in advance,
Leonardo Parachú

[Edited at 2004-07-17 01:11]


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Kathinka van de Griendt  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:02
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
Many views, many answers Jul 17, 2004

Hi Leonardo, the fact that (at this stage) 146 people viewed your comment but didn't give a reply speaks volumes to me: your query is a common one, but the answer isn't to be found with others. You have to decide for yourself what you really want. I can only make a vague attempt to assist you in your decision by telling you that I have done both in-house and freelance. You know the pros and cons, your list is very detailed and I agree with you on most. However, I made the final decision to go free-lance. I went to my bank, talked to them about a credit which I could afford, gave them my business idea (translation linked to website construction) and got all the (financial) help I needed from the government, which in Germany means quite a bit. Once I realised that I could live off that at least for six months, even without any jobs, I went for it and have never looked back.
It's up to you. "Ensure your living-costs", is my first commandment (I have a family to support)!
Rates, line or page prices I got from ProZ (thanks, guys) and from the advice of other transators. PC, CAT tools etc, I paid for with my credit (tax returnable).This doesn't mean that I refuse ALL in-house jobs. If the client agrees to pay for transport and accommodation, I am quite willing to join them for a while, wherever, to do the job they ask of me.
So, make your decision and live easy)
Regards, and the best wishes possible,
Kathinka


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Elizabeth Adams  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:02
Member (2002)
Russian to English
+ ...
I think it's a 'time of life' question Jul 17, 2004

I've done both, too. I think you have to see your career in the long term and stay flexible - maybe working in-house is the most fulfilling thing for you right now, but eventually you may find that you have a couple of really good customers on the side and want to quit your job and focus on the freelance work. Then later on you may get a great offer to do something in-house...and the wheel keeps turning.

I guess what I'm saying is that in my experience you can never satisfy all of yourself all of the time, but you can try to vary the mix and keep growing.

I think it sounds like you have a pretty good job. Enjoy, but keep your eyes open.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
Both, in turn Jul 17, 2004

Hi L

I didn't quite get all the points you were trying to make, I'm afraid.....nonetheless, I will give you my perspective as someone who never worked in-house yet wishes she had had the opportunity.

Being in-house gives you an important insight into what is expected of translators and editors, and also gives you the oppotunity to aquire technical knowledge and skills.

It seems logical that one spends one's early years as a kind of apprentice, and an apprentice needs a 'master', a person or organisation in which he/she learns from others.

A couple of years of that and you are really well set up to work as a freelancer.

HTH:-)


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:32
English to Tamil
+ ...
Be sure of parachute before making the jump, lest it should turn into a plunge Jul 18, 2004

I was an inhouse translator for 12 years. My official designation was "Senior Design Engineer cum French translator". I am not kidding. I did both work, getting 12 years' experience as Engineer and 12 years' experience as French translator, total 24 years over a twelve year period. Talk of overtime!

Inhouse work has got its own advantages. Dictionaries and tools of the trade are procured by the employer on your requisition. You get immediate feedback- bouquets, brickbats - for your work. You are on your toes. Disadvantages too abound. I saved my company many times my salary in terms of translation fees, had it outsourced the work. In other words, there is potential loss of revenues for me. Sigh. The translation work too becomes monotonous but easier at the same time.

But then I had enough leisure time to work on the side and slowly build up my client base. So at the time of my taking voluntary retirement, I had perfected my client list. From the side earnings I equipped myself with the necessary dictionaries and I came out confidently and started a very good practice.

Now here I am, ten years after the event, earning many times my projected salary had I continued my job. No regrets. My cup runneth over.

Regards,
N.Raghavan

[Edited at 2004-07-18 10:32]


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:02
Portuguese to English
+ ...
I prefer being a free-lancer Jul 18, 2004

As other posters have said, this is a very personal issue. I live in Brazil, and was once offered a job as an in-house translator, but I didn't take it, for the following reasons:

The pay was lousy.
I hate getting up early in the morning and having to go somewhere to work.
I love the freedom of being at home, setting my own hours, working late at night if I want.
I can arrange my career so I have time for my other interests.

For me, being a free-lancer is ideal, even though I know it's not everyone's cup of java.

Cheers,
Amy from Rio


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Sarah Downing  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:02
German to English
+ ...
I feel the same Jul 18, 2004

AmyD wrote:

As other posters have said, this is a very personal issue. I live in Brazil, and was once offered a job as an in-house translator, but I didn't take it, for the following reasons:

The pay was lousy.
I hate getting up early in the morning and having to go somewhere to work.
I love the freedom of being at home, setting my own hours, working late at night if I want.
I can arrange my career so I have time for my other interests.

For me, being a free-lancer is ideal, even though I know it's not everyone's cup of java.

Cheers,
Amy from Rio


Although I too would initially have appreciated gaining experience "from the horse's mouth" by working at an agency, I definitely prefer freelancing.

I'm not a morning person either and tend to be more productive at night - This can be a bit of a pain when customers ring you at early hours - some ring as early as 8 - but you get used to it:-)

I also like the freedom and flexibility of freelancing, although I think that it does entail more responsibility and the admin always takes up a lot of time. However, I still wouldn't swap for salaried employment, not least because I think it pays a lot less in the language field and as a freelancer you can potentially earn a lot more.


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Leonardo Parachú  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:02
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you people... Jul 19, 2004

... this is exactly what I needed: facts of life. I really appreciate and treasure them. I guess that, for the time being, I´ll stick to what I´ve got (I worked my ass off to get here), try to find ways to organize myself, keep up (and better each day) the good work, and don´t make too many mountains out of molehills. After all, I haven´t screwed up too much in life not to trust my instincts.

Thanks again,
Leonardo.


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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:02
English to Spanish
+ ...
way to go... Jul 20, 2004

Leonardo Parachú wrote:
After all, I haven´t screwed up too much in life not to trust my instincts.



...me so envious I turned green

In-house vs. freelancer...done both at length at different times in my career. As has been pointed before, there is much to learn and benefit from in either situation. I get the sense you value your efforts enough to make the best of any transition you will at some point choose to make. That is to be admired

Cheers,

Susana Galilea
Accredited Translator EUTI
sgalilea@ispwest.com
www.accentonspanish.com


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