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Minimum experience required: X years...
Thread poster: Ariadna Castillo González

Ariadna Castillo González  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 20:14
English to Catalan
+ ...
Mar 1, 2002

Hello,



That set of words \"minimum experience required: X years\" seems to be part of my every night\'s dreams, or I should better say, nightmares. I\'m trying to start up in this business, I have a degree in Translation and Interpreting but I have a lack of experience. Somehow I hate telling lies, but being honest doesn\'t seem to help. If nobody gives you the chance to prove yourself, how can you get the experience required???

I have sent out hundreds of CVs, I upgraded my membership to Platinum and I still don\'t have a job. The only people that seem to rely on me are the NGOs... but, of course, they don\'t have the money to pay you for the job.

I\'m Spanish but I currently live in The Netherlands, where getting an in-house position is out of the question, but becoming a freelancer isn\'t easier.



I guess none of you were born with experience. How did you get it? Do you think that there is still somebody out there that wishes to give non-experienced translators a little chance?



Any suggestions will be more than welcome.

Ariadna



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Nina Khmielnitzky  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:14
Member (2004)
English to French
Don't give up Mar 1, 2002

Hi,

It took me about a year to find contracts. I found them mainly by telling as many people as possible what I was doing and that I was looking for work. Eventually, someone who knows someone else, etc. was looking for a translator. I know it\'s not easy, but you have to advertise, and take every opportunity to make yourself known. You could also prepare a document to \"promote yourself\" and send it to as many companies, agencies and organizations as possible.



These are only a few suggestions, but I hope it helps.



Regards,

Nina


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lcmolinari  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:14
Member
French to English
+ ...
You may want to consider moving Mar 1, 2002

Hi, I can understand your frustration, I have experienced it myself, but I can tell you that persistence and creativity pay off. I don\'t know how long you\'ve been looking for a job or trying to establish yourself as a freelancer, but it can\'t be done overnight.



Here are some tips that I found useful. If you have little or no experience, don\'t waste your time sending CVs off to large translation agencies. They don\'t have the time to take a beginner under their wing, carefully proofread and edit translations, etc. They simply have a high volume of work and hundreds of qualified CVs on hand that it just isn\'t worth their time. When I first started out (about 3 years ago) I had a few things going for me. I was in a small country (Costa Rica) where almost all translation is done by small businesses, usually consisting of the owner and maybe one or two freelancers. So it was easy to make personal contact. The other was that despite my lack of experience, my education and the fact that I was a native English speaker in a country that has very few native Eng. speaking translators greatly helped. I started to work for two translation companies who knew I had very little experience and that they would have to carefully proofread and edit my work, and therefore we agreed on a lower than usual rate. You may want to approach very small translation companies and propose this to them.



The other thing to do would be to move somewhere where your language combinations are needed. When I was in Costa Rica, there was endless work into English for me. Since returning to Canada, I have been told the same thing by all agencies here: there isn\'t a lot of work into English from Spanish. I now work full-time in-house and I know this to be true. I have no idea what your living situation is or why you are in Netherlands, but the fact that Dutch is not one of your languages will not make things easier. You may want to consider going somewhere else for a year or two, if that is at all possible. If you want to stay in Europe, try looking into what the job market is like in Britain. Or try to arrange an internship with a translation company if you can. Where I work, we have translation students every summer who come to do internships, and now we just hired one full time. So... if your financial situation permits it, I think this is the best option.



Good luck and don\'t give up! By the way, I do work for NGOs too and they certainly should pay. Just because they\'re non-profit doesn\'t mean they don\'t have money. As long as they pay you at least enough to make it worth your while, keep doing it. You may have to take a different kind of job for awhile, but imagine how quickly time passes and before you know it, you\'ll be able to truthfully say you have XX years\' experience translating for NGOs.




[addsig]


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Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 13:14
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
Perhaps it is too early... Mar 1, 2002

Don’t give up and keep trying, Ariadna, but perhaps it is too early for you to become a freelance. Of course, no one is born with experience and you have to get some. One of the ways is to look for the in-house job – not necessarily as a translator but perhaps as an assistant or other junior staff. You mentioned that it is out of question in the Netherlands, but you didn’t tell why. You may think about finding a job in the area you are interested in and you would like to specialise as a translator – perhaps in the law firm, or trading company, engineering etc. Try to find an international firm where you will use your pair of languages at work and – what is most important, where you can learn some “real” stuff: for example after one or two years of being an assistant to international lawyers who provide services to Catalan firms operating in the Netherlands you can get invaluable experience. Yes, for one or two years you will be mainly making copies, pick up phones and send faxes, but believe me you will also learn a lot about law, doing business, etc. The law firm is just an example. Language and translation courses is not enough, you really need some ‘first hand” experience.

Another way for start up is to work for a well-established colleague who can “share” his/her assignments with you. This works well, if you have a very busy colleague who is willing to give you some of his/her work and still take full responsibility for the final result. This may be unlikely in current market situation where most of translators work for agencies rather than for direct clients. However, networking with other translators is one of the “musts”.

Third, do not give up NGOs! Yes, they don’t have money in most cases, but they offer opportunity to get real experience in some times absolutely fascinating areas and meet extraordinary people you would otherwise never met. Participation in some of larger projects, even for free or for very little can generate a nice income from other clients who will value your skills and knowledge gained there.

Myself, I have tried all of the above, with success. It takes time, but it pays, believe me.

Good luck and don’t give up!

Magda



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Pilar T. Bayle  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
Try in-house Mar 1, 2002

Why don\'t you try an in-house position for a while to earn that experience you are lacking? They don\'t pay as much as when you are on your own, but education has a price tag.



Good luck.



P.


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Egmont
Spain
Local time: 13:14
Afrikaans to Spanish
+ ...
Try NGOs Mar 1, 2002

You can help any NGO for a while. For example, SAVE THE CHILDREN, PLAN International and many more.

Also you can help the UNICEF too.



Best wishes,
[addsig]


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Susana Tejeda Taberna  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
It is not easy Mar 1, 2002

Hi Ariadna,

I have seen myself in the very same position. I am a native spanish translator, and I have also lived abroad for some years. As I was not able to find a job as a translator (either in-house or freelance), I did have to try other ways of making a career. I worked for a company which had nothing to do with translation for some years, and it did make get a glimpse of the industrial world, which helped me in two ways: first, I opened a different door and proved myself that I could work in something different if translating was not enough \"to pay the rent\"; secondly, it expanded my views, ideas and, of course, vocabulary!



I am currently trying to work a s afreelance translator, full-time, and it is not easy. We are many, and good professionals. I think that the best thing is to keep on trying and be patient. I have felt a bit desperate somtimes, but it did pay in the end.

Regards,

S.


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Fernando Galv�n
English to Spanish
+ ...
we all have gone through it before... Mar 1, 2002

Hi Ariadna,



My tip is very the following: never give up! You can probe the translation market for some weeks or months until you are entrusted a project big enough to settle up on your own. Sooner or later, it will arrive.



Unfortunately, I disagree with Pilar as I think that when you lack experience, it becomes much more difficult to find an in-house position than to get established as a freelancer, although it is still possible.



If you live in the Netherlands, you probably have heard of ISP (www.isp.nl), I think they recruit quite activly...



Good luck!


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Sven Petersson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 13:14
English to Swedish
+ ...
Try to look upon the world from the customers point of view! Mar 1, 2002

Dear A,



1. Work yourself up to the top 3 in the KudoZ-list for your main language combination (English > Spanish).



2. Don’t claim specialization in a wide range of subjects, \"Specialization: Technical Manuals, Social Related Subjects, Education, Marketing, Business & Finance, Legal\" (You don’t gain credibility by doing so, you lose credibility).



3. Don’t advertise that you live in a non-Spanish speaking country (Most customers think you can only do a good job if you live in an area where the target language is spoken).



4. Quote high prices (This is known as the Hasselblad syndrome: If you dare to quote high prices, you must be a superb translator!).



Best of luck!



Sven.







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Evert DELOOF-SYS  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 13:14
Member
English to Dutch
+ ...
And what about some of your colleagues working in your language pairs? Mar 1, 2002

I decided a while ago to give some \'less experienced\' translators a very serious try, as I felt that what you stated about \'lack of experience\' can indeed be a bummer.



I now worked on several projects with at least two such \'lesser experienced\' translators (and ProZ members) and am very happy with the outcome. They translate and I edit/proof.



So, why don\'t you contact some ProZ members in your SC\'s and propose to collaborate with them?

If you deliver good work on time, I\'m sure some will be more than willing to listen, provided of course they have sufficient work themselves.



Good luck



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Carolin Dierksmeier
France
Local time: 13:14
English to German
+ ...
From a "fellow-sufferer"... Mar 1, 2002

Dear Ariadna,



I am a newcomer too and my experience is exctly the same as yours. Actually I complained about the same problems and asked the same questions as you some days ago in another thread. I received some good advice and it was interesting to read how well others get on and that there are actually ways to make a good living on translation, but still all the answers boiled down to the same thing: provided you have experience.

So my question is the same as yours : How do you gain experience when nobody gives you a chance to get started? After years spent at university I don\'t really see myself doing another course or apprenticeship. I think that a degree should be sufficient to start working. I perfectly agree that continuous learning is very important for translators and I will certainly think about specialised evening classes etc. But apart from that, I think that now it should be learning by doing!!! Besides, it\'s a question of money, too, I just cannot afford to go on learning and learning, without working at the same time.

As for inhouse positions I would love to \"try\" an inhouse position, as somebody put it, but unfortunately you can\'t buy them in the supermarket... Seriously, there are no inhouse positions at all at the moment (at least in France, but it seems to be the same in the Netherlands) or very, very few, and none at all for graduates without experience.

Another recurrent situation: what is called \"translator\" in the job offer comes out to be a secretary job in reality.



Well, anyway, I\'m not totally desperate yet as I\'ve only just started in this business. But I would like to know, Ariadna, how long has it been that you are trying to get established? I have friends (translation graduates like me) who have been continuing to live on tedious students\' jobs for more than a year now because they couldn\'t find an inhouse position and didn\'t get freelance jobs either and this perspective makes me rather frightened.



Anyway, don\'t give up, I won\'t either.

Good luck to you and to everyone!!!



Carolin


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Silvina Beatriz Codina  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 09:14
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Network with other translators Mar 4, 2002

I agree with those who recommended working with other translators with the same language combination. Contact any colleague you know personally or look them up in ProZ, asking them if they need help with work. The usual arrangement is that you translate and they proofread. This worked for me; thus I was able to get experience with someone \"holding my hand\" in the process. Some people also get started working as secretaries in some company. I didn\'t try that out because I hate secretarial work, but it has worked for others I know.



I do a lot of work for NGOs and it is always paid work. Normally, it is true, they don\'t pay very high rates, but in some cases, they pay you better than some \"commercial\" clients.


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Ariadna Castillo González  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 20:14
English to Catalan
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Mar 5, 2002

Thank you very much to all of you who took a bit of time to give me some hints. I´ll keep on trying!!!



Ariadna


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ElsGray
Local time: 13:14
English to Dutch
Don't give up trying! Mar 6, 2002

Dear Ariadna,



I have to say I feel lucky when I read stories like yours. Because for me, things took off quite easily once I decided to go freelance. And I live in Belgium, not that far from you. Don\'t know if the markets in Belgium and Holland can be compared though.



My first job after graduating was a job I took in a company where one of my tasks would be translating. But it was like Carolin said before: \'... what is called \"translator\" in the job offer comes out to be a secretary job in reality\'. So I quit after 6 months and decided to start doing what I love doing, translating, on a freelance basis. But it doesn\'t happen overnight. First I started teaching at Berlitz in Brussels, a renowned language institute. Just to make sure I would be making a standard income still. After my teaching hours, I started up my translating business. There was one big help though, I got to know someone who owns a translation company and who was willing to give me tips on the business and to give me a fair chance at translating. As she was very pleased with my work, I started getting more worked and she started referring me to other agencies. In the same month, I consulted the yellow pages online and sent a fax to about 300 big, small and single-person agencies. I got a response rate of about 5%, which means I had work coming in of a few more agencies. After six weeks I had to give up my teaching job because I was full-time translating. That was in April last year. Now, not even a year later, I still have plenty of work to fill my days (and weekends and I couldn\'t be happier. It is the job I always wanted and it has come true already. And, I make more money now than I could make in an average office job. So, I am sure, if I can do it, then you can do it too!!



Good luck!



PS When they asked about my experience, I always answered \'yes, I\'ve got experience\', and when they asked how long I had been a freelance translator, I said \'for a while now\'. Pretty \'neutral\' answers, but I never lied.





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ElsGray
Local time: 13:14
English to Dutch
Forgot to add... Mar 6, 2002

... that I disagree with one thing Sven Petersson suggested: \'1. Work yourself up to the top 3 in the KudoZ-list for your main language combination (English > Spanish).\'



Personally, I don\'t think this should be your number one priority at all. For me, it is totally irrelevant. I like Proz for the forums, but that\'s about it. And I am so busy translating all the time that I rarely have the time to come and look at the message board. But if you want, you can base your freelance career around proz. But that\'s another issue altogether.









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