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How do you get that all important experience?
Thread poster: Wendy Cummings

Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:28
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 25, 2003

I want to start a career as a translator. I already have some qualifications (BA, Diptrans, member of IOL), and am starting a Masters in Translation this autumn. These will all hopefully help me in the long run. In the meantime, however, it seems that experience plays a very important factor in getting work as a translator. But how do you break the vicious circle of \"can\'t get experience without a job, and can\'t get a job without experience\"?. How do you suggest getting the proverbial foot in the door?



Any comments and suggestions would be really appreciated.


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:28
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Work in an agency Apr 25, 2003

An advisable way to start gaining experience in the translation business is a period of work in a good agency.



I think that 2-3 years, perhaps in two different environments, should be sufficient to decide how to progress on your translation career: as a freelancer (not necessarily the best choice for all persons or situations) or in-house (some more relative security) or perhaps switch to project management or other similar parallel routes.



Good luck

Gianfranco





[ This Message was edited by: gianfranco on 2003-04-25 13:50]


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Kemal Mustajbegovic  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:28
English to Croatian
+ ...
Good question Apr 25, 2003

Every beginner in any kind of occupation faces, as I call it, \"magic circle\" - one cannot get a job without experience and experience without a job.



What I could suggest is in fact a basic rule to start any kind of career - make your portfolio.



In your case, make a few different translations in various fields (or one or two if you intend to specialize; it\'s always good idea to specialize by the way) that you can show potential clients or employers. And then you can say: \"This is what I can do.\"



Oh, and spend some time brushing up you profile page at proZ. It could be of some help.



Good luck and welcome!



Kemal



P.S. ...And then follow Gianfranco\'s lead.



[ This Message was edited by: kemmus on 2003-04-25 12:42]


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:28
German to English
+ ...
Suggestions Apr 25, 2003

I would advise against going freelance immediately. I went freelance after five years\' experience as a staffer, and would have liked to have had double that. I know that there are far fewer staff jobs around nowadays, but even so, if at all possible I would avoid jumping in at the deep end.



A preferable option, if it\'s open to you, is to go and live in one of the countries where your source languages are spoken.



If you find yourself in a non-translation job, but would like to build up experience, consider translating documentation for the open-source community. You won\'t earn any money, but it will give you experience, and because of the nature of the work, your name will be on it - all over the web.



Marc


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Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:28
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
open-source community = ? Apr 25, 2003

Thanks a lot for that advice Marc, but could you/anyone explain what is meant by \'open-source community\'?



Wleech



Quote:


On 2003-04-25 13:23, MarcPrior wrote:



If you find yourself in a non-translation job, but would like to build up experience, consider translating documentation for the open-source community. You won\'t earn any money, but it will give you experience, and because of the nature of the work, your name will be on it - all over the web.



Marc







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Pee Eff
Germany
Local time: 06:28
English to German
+ ...
The open source community... Apr 25, 2003

...the community of software developers that to non-proprietary software like, for example, Linux oder the web browser Mozilla. In contrary to proprietary software like Windows or MS Office this open source software is free of charge and its source code is free and can be modified by anybody. The people who develop and modify this source code and, thus, the software programs are the open source community.



You can find further information here:

www.mozilla.org

www.openoffice.org

www.linux.org



Good luck!

Patrick


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:28
German to English
+ ...
Open-source Apr 25, 2003

Open-source refers to software the source code of which is available and freely distributable. Being free, the programs are usually written by volunteers, the documentation is usually written by volunteers, and any translations are usually done, you guessed, by volunteers.



The most famous example is Linux, but Linux is only a tiny part of what is available. For the most part, the documentation is generally written directly in English and then translated into other languages, as most programmers, wherever they are, have (and have to have) some rudimentary knowledge of English. (Sometimes very rudimentary, judging by the documentation.) So, if (like me) you only translate *into* English, there is little actual translation for you to do.



There are exceptions, though. One notable example I came across recently was TkXMLive. This is an editor for XML texts, and I would have liked to have tried it. Unfortunately - for me - the documentation is only in Russian, and my Russian is nye ochen horrorshow, znayesh. As far as I know, that\'s still the case (about TkXMLive, I mean - my Russian certainly isn\'t getting any better.) So if you want to practice translation and make yourself useful at the same time, head over to



tkxmlive.sourceforge.net



and offer your services.



Marc


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Mónica Machado
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:28
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Work abroad for a reliable agency or company is a very good start Apr 25, 2003

Hello,



I think the best thing to do is trying to get a job in a reliable agency or company as a translator. This is not easy but may be you can start as non-experienced translator. Low earning but good way to learn and to make a start. Then if you work enough and show your abilities you can progress. This is best if you do it abroad in the country of your source language.



Without this it is quite difficult to make a start as a freelance translator. And without much experience you can only be offered low pay jobs which might get you off-track. This low pay agencies/companies are well-known in the market and mentioning them on your resume might not be good idea.



Don\'t give up either

Best of luck

Mónica





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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:28
Member (2004)
German to English
I did it Apr 26, 2003

I went freelance from virtually no experience and this is how - I bought Alex Eames book, read it, prepared a CV and then sent it to the agencies in his tranmail list. You start off with the agencies that will take you - usually the ones that pay low rates - and you get experience slowly. You don\'t earn much in the first year or two - I had to supplement my income in other ways. But over time you gain the experience and improve - then you send out your CV again and more agencies will take you on - and these pay better (but not necessarily quicker) and then you drop the lower paying ones. Now 3 years on I\'m making good money and working for agencies that pay good rates and contact me when they\'re in a squeeze because they appreciate my attitude. E.g. last night (Friday) at 4pm an agency called to say they had an urgent text that needed doing before 6pm. We were able to come to a win-win solution and everyone is happy. No doubt they\'ll come back to me again on another occasion. So you can do it - but it takes time, effort and flexibility. Go for it!

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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:28
Member (2004)
German to English
and Apr 26, 2003

you\'re better qualified than I was when I started - I didn\'t have my IoL Dip Trans at the beginning.

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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:28
German to English
+ ...
For Tayfun Apr 27, 2003

Quote:


If you mean that is software community I downloaded \"ForeignDesk\", a CAT tool, from there.

However as much as I know there is no other activities relevant to translation sector.





This is not correct, Tayfun. There is lots of open-source software available which translators can use, and it is even possible to manage as a translator using ONLY open-source software, if you are determined to do so.



Marc

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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 23:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
Don't overlook the local market Apr 29, 2003

A strategic plan for attacking the local market:



1. Design your business card.

There are quite a few sites on the internet with tips on how to design an effective business card that can give you ideas. Put yourself in the potential client\'s position, and think of what information you want her or him to have about you; i.e. what you can do for them, and how they can contact you.



2. Hand it out. In all your daily interactions with friends, acquaintances and people with whom you do business, the subject of one\'s occupation often comes into the conversation. This provides a natural opportunity for you to give them your card without beng pushy. If they don\'t need a translation, they might someday run into someone who does. If your card is there, you will be the translater they call. If any businesses or offices in your neighbourhood have a place where customers can display their business cards, make sure yours is there.



2(a). Any family and friends who are supportive of you may also be willing to carry a few copies of your card and hand it out at similar opportunities.



3. Start in your own city. Go through the yellow pages of your phone book. Phone each of the translation agencies listed, introducing yourself and offering to send a copy of your CV. You might also try an internet search on your languages including your city or region as a keyword to find more local businesses that could be interested in your language skills.


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Kay Fisher
German to English
+ ...
Don't forget direct customers May 12, 2003

Translation agencies are not your only source of work. If you have experience of working in any other field, use your contacts there to try and get some direct clients.

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Sara Whillance  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:28
German to English
+ ...
Dealing with knock backs May 13, 2003

I was encouraged to read Gillian\'s mail.



I have recently started out as a full-time freelance translator and just rang one of the agencies listed in London to ask if I could send my C.V. Unfortunately the lady I spoke with was very obnoxious and extremely discouraging. She asked about my experience and I said that I had used my language skills in employment for years and done various translation work and that I have a Masters degree from Cambridge University in German and Spanish. She asked if I had been employed as an in-house translator, doing nothing but translation, rather than in another position doing translation work. I said I had not been employed solely as an inhouse translator doing nothing else. Well she replied that I was jumping the gun a bit and should work for at least two years as an inhouse translator and needed to have more experience. I said that was a bit chicken and egg. Furthermore she said I needed to be able to translate 3,500 - 4,000 words per day and could not expect to charge more than about £45 per 1000 words without having much experience in the field. I had said my standard rate was £60 per 1000 words and that I could translate around 2000 words per day. I will work for less to get experience but do not want to bring the industry rates down in general. Obviously the number of words one is able to translate should also increase in time, but surely quality is equally important.

I came off the telephone feeling rather annoyed and decided to come to the discussion forum to air my views.



As far as I am concerned there is no one set way to enter the field of freelance translating... I would be keen to hear your views.









_________________



[ This Message was edited by: Sara Whillance on 2003-05-14 11:24]


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