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Young Translator- is is possible?
Thread poster: Bob_Wind
Bob_Wind
Local time: 00:25
French to English
Apr 2, 2006

Hello,

I'm English and 17 and am looking to earn some money over the summer. Do you think translation is a worthwile idea for me? I know what you're thinking- teen looking to cash in by doing some easy work. But I know I can do this job, and do it well- I've been living in France for four years and I'm fluent in French, not only in conversational French but the serious sort. I'm something like the second best pupil in my college and I aced my French literature exam. I'm not showing off here, just trying to show I know what I'm doing. I also have a, ahem, very good command of English; I write novels and poetry.

So I'm looking to translate from French to English, just to tide me over the summer. Looking at some of the fees professionals charge it seems quite worthwhile, even if I earn nowhere near that much.

Is this worth a try? Would I get any jobs, seeing as I have no official qualifications apart from my Baccalauréat? Would I have to charge such reduced fees that I'd earn too little? Would I have to stay up all night every day to earn enough?

After all, it is so much more of a compelling alternative than serving beer to Liverpudlian pubgoers.


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Stephen Rifkind  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 01:25
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Age versus knowledge Apr 2, 2006

First of all, I wish I had had the idea you had at your age. Second of all, nobody asks you how old you are. Your "age" affects your lack of credentials and your knowledge base.

First of all, translate only into your native tongue.
Second, consider what field you really understand. Do you cook, hike, collect butterflies, or anything specialized?

Then make a simple a resume showing your language combination and giving "credentials" for your confidence:
Studied in chemistry. Don't lie. Show the resume to someone who can edit your resume.

Send your resume in internet sources and any local sources: govenment office, travel agencies.

If you want to be treated like an adult, act like one. Read the document before saying you can translate it. If your gut feeling is negative, don't take the job. Give yourself a wide deadline. Proofread and get others to check your work. Quality is more important than quantity. Every happy client is a steady source of income and a referral basis for new clients.

Payment: See about internet options, i.e. paypal to get around the bank problem.

Finally, patience. It can take a long time to get a first client, unfortunately.

Yours truly,

Stephen Rifkind


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Robert Zawadzki  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:25
English to Polish
+ ...
provided you need a holiday job Apr 2, 2006

I guess you do not have enough time to wait for jobs (as Stephen pointed out, you may have to wait long before the first client), I think translation is not an option. Perhaps you can make it as an escort interpreter for some foreigners, but I do not know how to find them.

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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:25
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Good solid advice Apr 2, 2006

Yes, I wish I had been able sell my skills when I was a language student, because I already had an excellent grasp of two languages as a teenager.
Sadly, it was in the Stone Age and no computers and no internet meant it wasn't possible, so I served a great many aspiring drunks and wiped a great many greasy bartops ...
But you have skills and you have resources. Make your approach professional, as Stephen says.
Good luck
Angela


Stephen Rifkind wrote:

First of all, I wish I had had the idea you had at your age. Second of all, nobody asks you how old you are. Your "age" affects your lack of credentials and your knowledge base.

First of all, translate only into your native tongue.
Second, consider what field you really understand. Do you cook, hike, collect butterflies, or anything specialized?

Then make a simple a resume showing your language combination and giving "credentials" for your confidence:
Studied in chemistry. Don't lie. Show the resume to someone who can edit your resume.

Send your resume in internet sources and any local sources: govenment office, travel agencies.

If you want to be treated like an adult, act like one. Read the document before saying you can translate it. If your gut feeling is negative, don't take the job. Give yourself a wide deadline. Proofread and get others to check your work. Quality is more important than quantity. Every happy client is a steady source of income and a referral basis for new clients.

Payment: See about internet options, i.e. paypal to get around the bank problem.

Finally, patience. It can take a long time to get a first client, unfortunately.

Yours truly,

Stephen Rifkind


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
getting clients Apr 2, 2006

Stephen Rifkind wrote:


Finally, patience. It can take a long time to get a first client, unfortunately.


Stephen Rifkind


This is the major problem, as far as I can see, all the rest is subjective, you could be a great translator irrespective of age, experience, etc.

It's not like a pub job, too right! To find a pub job you walk around half a morning, and by lunchtime you'll have a job.

Translation doesn't work that way. So the best thing would be to get moving now, making contact with agencies, and hope you can try to squeeze in work as a part-timer on the offchance that you get to work more as a fulltimer in summer.


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:25
Member
English to French
ahem Apr 2, 2006


teen looking to cash in by doing some easy work


I don't think anybody here think translating is easy money! But as we all know, as long as you can speak two languages, you can be a translator...
Just as as long as you have two hands, you can be a bartender.
(sigh)

Now, you can give it a shot and maybe you will find yourself a vocation! But don't expect it easy, it is not.

Philippe


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ahmadwadan.com  Identity Verified
Kuwait
Local time: 01:25
English to Arabic
+ ...
Why not! Apr 2, 2006

I see you have the gut and knowledge (at least in some domains). Go ahead!

Best wishes
www.arablish.com


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Daniel Bird  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:25
German to English
Alternatively... Apr 2, 2006

...why not consider approaching agencies in France who might be looking for assistants or stagiaires during the summer? It might even pay as much as bar work.
I agree with the point about starting the groundwork now as it can take some time for clients to begin to take notice of your job bids, cv, etc.
Good luck
DB


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Shera Lyn Parpia
Italy
Local time: 00:25
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
an idea... Apr 2, 2006

if you need to add accomplishments to your resumè you may be able to find voluntary organizations who need free translations. This will help you get experience and have someone else evaluate your work. Obviously they are all different, but some organziations have a great revising services which are practically tutorials. I know, I do this myself occasionally.

And when you put it on your resumè you don't need to tell anyone you did it for free.


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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 00:25
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Intern job, maybe? Apr 2, 2006

I agree that the time frame is too short to find as many clients as you would like.

Daniel has a point though - I suppose if you apply as an intern to some translation agencies, you might have a chance. Even if they will not pay you much, you might get some valuable advice from more experienced translators/proofreaders, which would be worth as much (if you plan to follow that path in the future).


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Vauwe
Local time: 00:25
English to German
+ ...
Investments? Apr 2, 2006

Becoming a freelance translator involves also some investments before you can start. Maybe a CAT tool, some dictionaries etc. That may cost more than you could earn during the holidays.
Good luck!


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Aleksandr Okunev
Local time: 01:25
English to Russian
Try to find something where you language skills are an advantage Apr 2, 2006

Bob_Wind wrote: So I'm looking to translate from French to English, just to tide me over the summer.

I would try to find a summer job as a guide
at home (inthe home country).

Or join a program like Work Experience USA,
where your language skills would be a great
advantage.

I think you should concentrate on interpreting.

I don't think you have enough time to "run-in"
as a translator during summer.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:25
French to English
Administration Apr 2, 2006

Age per se shouldn't be a barrier, but as with so many other jobs, experience can be. And in translation, this does not just mean translation experience, living in a foreign country etc., but also experience of life itself, and experience in a particular field or subject area useful to potential clients, be that engineering or accountancy or law or IT or agriculture or...well, any of the subject areas you see listed on this site, basically.

I would venture to suggest that at your age, your experience in such practical fields is limited, with the possible exception of education (since you're going through it now). Of course, if you grew up on a farm or have been actively involved in a family business, say, this is all valid experience. Good clients like to see some evidence that you "know what you're talking about", to put it bluntly.

Not that this should stop you, necessarily, from applying for positions as an employee. Everyone needs to start somewhere, sometime.

However, if you were thinking of going it alone, and if you live in France (which "I have been living..." would imply) and you're planning on doing this legitimately (and no good client would give you work if you aren't), then you will need to register with URSSAF and this in turn will lead to you needing to pay social security contributions and you'll need to set up your own admin system to deal with purchase orders and invoices and keep track of your jobs and so on and so forth. I hate to tell you this, but freelance translation does not equate with "summer job" if you're going to do it properly.


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Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 15:25
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Rough start Apr 2, 2006

I started when I was exactly your age. I had just graduated from technical high school and had a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Sciences - Major in Data Processing. Days after my graduation, I started working at a language school as an English teacher. I started doing translations on the side, mostly for people who would walk in and ask for "help" at the school, but also for some older friends who were going through their Master's Degree studies and needed to understand some of the material, which was in English, in order to take a test or write a thesis. Well, I had an income, so I would always say "yes" to this kind of friendly and informal jobs and practice my skills. The first couple of times I didn't get paid at all or the "friend" decided to pay what he/she thought the translation was worth it...

Well, my advice to you is to go ahead and do your best to market yourself. Now, over the internet, no one knows what you look like or how old you are, so you can take advantage of that. But try to work only with serious people and companies, so that you're taken seriously too.

Another good idea, that is, if you're not specifically trying to make money, is working as a volunteer. I'm sure there are a lot of French organizations that are not for profit and must dedicate themselves to a cause that is close to your heart. Or, if you're good with computers (on a higher level, not only as a user), I know there's tons of open-source programs and utilities being written by French developers and I'm sure they'd be happy to have someone like you translate the material into English so that their user base can expand.

Well, these are just two ideas. If you're really passionate about it, you should stick around and wait for your turn. You'll be disappointed in the beginning, but if you really want to be a professional, keep on studying, specializing, and dedicating part of your time to marketing your services. Eventually, you'll find your niche.

Good luck!


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Selcuk Akyuz  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 01:25
Member (2006)
English to Turkish
+ ...
Yes, investments Apr 2, 2006

Vauwe wrote:

Becoming a freelance translator involves also some investments before you can start. Maybe a CAT tool, some dictionaries etc. That may cost more than you could earn during the holidays.
Good luck!


Hope you are ready to spend one or two thousand Euros for the beginning.

Interesting but my wife, she is a translator as well, always wanted to be a barmaid. Easy work she thinks


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