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No experience translating - provide samples?
Thread poster: Tiffany Hardy

Tiffany Hardy  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:31
Spanish to English
Sep 3, 2005

Hi everyone! I'm new here and new to the translation world altogether. I am North American (U.S.) living in Spain and would like to start translating. I have never done any kind of translation work before - so I am going to start the certificate program at NYU in October. In the meantime, however, I would really like to get as much experience as I can. I have sent CV's to some non-profit/NGO's to volunteer and have not heard anything yet. I would like to approach some agencies here in Spain to see if they would be give a rookie like me a job or two. So, I thought it would be best if I comprise some samples of translation work done by me - but it would all be made up, nothing that I was hired to do. Has anyone done this? In terms of taking someone else's work (like an article from a social science journal, or some company's marketing materials) and translating it as an example of my work, am I allowed to do this without permission? That is, I would be translating something that no one has asked me to translate just to provide some sort of demonstration of my abilities to these agencies. Let me know what you more experienced translators think of this as a way to get my foot in the door at an agency. Thanks!

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 17:31
Dutch to English
+ ...
Some suggestions Sep 3, 2005

Some suggestions for starters:

1. Approach agencies, indicate the fields you feel comfortable translating in and ask them to send you relevant test pieces to do, rather then sending them unsolicited samples. Be aware that some agencies will not answer. Some will answer, send you a test but perhaps not let you know how your test panned out for a while (they often have more pressing things to do than evaluate a test) or they may confirm that you meet their standards but will only contact you again when their regulars are not available - you need to give yourself time and not get overly discouraged.

In your position though, I think the test route will be more profitable than sending samples. Agencies receive countless applications and very few will look at them and will send you a test anyhow - after all how do they know you actually translated the sample? Sometimes they will send you a test and impose a time limit, so be ready for that.

2. Read the articles in the Article Knowledgebase here on ProZ on how to boost and complete your profile - at the moment your profile is empty and so it's not going to attract traffic/interest/trade enquiries.

Visit some profiles on site on how to do this too - there are some really good ones. Since you have a lack of direct translating experience, you'll need to highlight your other skills, educational background, etc.

3. Follow and participate on KudoZ, it's a good way to see whether your skills match up in your chosen language pair.

Good luck with your course - this isn't an easy business to break into and many newcomers underestimate what translation involves but if you have another strong background (e.g. law, medicine, engineering, business etc) and can get into a niche market, have the linguistic aptitude, enjoy research and are comfortable working in what is a very solitary profession at times with unsociable hours - then go for it.

There are many advantages to it as a career and a degree of flexibility that other careers don't offer - but be realistic and be ready for a 12-18 month period to determine whether things are going to work out.

Keep well
Debbie

[Edited at 2005-09-03 19:18]

[Edited at 2005-09-03 19:27]

[Edited at 2005-09-04 16:38]


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Trudy Peters  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:31
German to English
+ ...
You could translate newspaper articles Sep 3, 2005

I see no reason why you couldn't translate a newspaper article, for instance, provided you cite the source (AP, Reuters, etc., or the local newspaper.) Don't know about journal articles.

Trudy

I agree with everything Deborah just said.

[Edited at 2005-09-03 19:21]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 19:31
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
What actually CAN you do? Sep 3, 2005

Is there a speciality which you know exceptionally well, a trade ore a hobby? You could search a web-page for that speciality in the source language and translate it into your native language. And show it to someone who could tell if you have done it well enough. It could be feature articles from the newspaper or subtitles for a dvd, anything.
Regards
Heinrich


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Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 10:31
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Open-source projects Sep 4, 2005

Dear Tiffanny:

A great experience would be translating open-source projects, that is, all materials related to those freeware and shareware programs that are developed by individuals and distributed for free over the internet. (Don't mistake then with piracy, since the creators of these program are the one distributing them online.)

Some of these programs can even be bought by large corporations (such as Yahoo) and start being commercialized — and if you have translated it and have your name attached to it, such voluntary project may become a very profitable one, because then these corporations may hire you to translate other related materials in the future. Besides, you'll have lots of samples and references to show your potential clients.

A great place to start looking for these projects (besides typing "open source" at Google) is the wonderful "geek site" Sourceforge.net. Browse through the site, find a project you like, get in contact with the developers and offer your translation/proofreading services for free in exchange of having your name displayed in the production team.

Good luck!


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Tiffany Hardy  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:31
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all for your help Sep 6, 2005

I really appreciate all your tips, especially on how to boost my profile and tips on where to get on as a translator to get my name out there.

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Johan Jongman  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 18:31
English to Dutch
+ ...
Open source Sep 6, 2005

Rafa Lombardino wrote:

A great place to start looking for these projects (besides typing "open source" at Google) is the wonderful "geek site" Sourceforge.net. Browse through the site, find a project you like, get in contact with the developers and offer your translation/proofreading services for free in exchange of having your name displayed in the production team.



Good advice. Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.com) is a good place to look as well.


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