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Just graduated from university....what next?
Thread poster: Adam Hardie

Adam Hardie  Identity Verified
Serbia
Local time: 03:07
Member (2010)
Serbian to English
+ ...
Jul 26, 2007

Hey everyone,

I'm a recent (last month) graduate from University and I studied Serbian/Croatian language, achieving a BA (Hons) Serbian & Croatian Studies.

I would very much like to pursue a career in translation and I have moved to Belgrade, Serbia as I have a partner here.

I just don't know what to do now! I can speak, write, listen and read Serbian language and completed a number of translation classes at the university during my degree. However, I don't know how I go about getting that first job, HOW do I gain experience? HOW do I get on the first step of the ladder? It would seem to me everyone would automatically go for the translator who's been doing it for years and built up a good portfolio and just overlook little me!

Regardless that I live in Serbia, I would like to hear advice that can generally be applied to any country....please help!

Regards

Adam


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Wibecke Syversen
Norway
Local time: 03:07
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Use proz.com! Jul 26, 2007

Hi Adam,

I got my first translation job here on proz.com 2 1/2 years ago. I had the same problem, no experience. However, I emphasised that I was educated and had translated a great number of text during my years in university.

Regards

Wibecke


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 02:07
The problem with graduates... Jul 26, 2007

is that they often don't have enough real-life business/technical experience. Also, a language degree doesn't necessarily mean you are fluent. So where do you go from there?

As you may have already seen from various posts, a lot of us worked in various fields before going into translation.

We make our real money by specialising in a couple of fields. For example, I am one of the very very few Irish Gaelic translators who can handle IT texts. Why? Because I worked for a computer company for two years, was involved with my Uni's computer society and I had picked up a lot of technical knowledge along the way. I can charge more for that kind of work than I can for translating a general piece of correspondance.

I would suggest that you leave translation aside for a couple of months, concentrate on settling down in your new environment and polishing your languages further. Get a job in a field that interests you and make the most of it, learn as much as you can about it. Look at it as a stepping stone, rather than a deviation. Besides, you're going to need to build up a financial cushion for yourself when you eventually go freelance. In addition, you'll be making contacts, that is a key thing. There are many paths to translation.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
good advice from Orla Jul 26, 2007

Orla Ryan wrote:

is that they often don't have enough real-life business/technical experience. Also, a language degree doesn't necessarily mean you are fluent. So where do you go from there?

....

I would suggest that you leave translation aside for a couple of months, concentrate on settling down in your new environment and polishing your languages further. Get a job in a field that interests you and make the most of it, learn as much as you can about it. Look at it as a stepping stone, rather than a deviation. Besides, you're going to need to build up a financial cushion for yourself when you eventually go freelance. In addition, you'll be making contacts, that is a key thing. There are many paths to translation.


1. Knowing a pair of languages doesn't necessarily equip you to be a translator.

2. One doesn't earn a good living as a freelancer overnight ... so find something that will keep you from starving ...and preferably that will add to your "world" knowledge in a way that will help you specialise.

3. Maybe your languages don't need polishing ... but consider a translation course/qualification, as you need now to acquire translation skills



As for getting that first job ...just look out for it, do what you can to put yourself in the way of your first job etc. Don't necessarily expect that it will fall in your lap becuase you want it ... I got mine walking 900 kms across Spain on the Road to Santiago de Compostela:-)

And never despair, you have to be patient.

[Edited at 2007-07-26 12:37]


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Alp Berker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:07
Turkish to English
+ ...
Some Tips Jul 26, 2007

Hi Adam,
I checked your Proz profile and I would start with getting as much as you can on your Proz page. Then Market yourself as much as possible. Send emails with your resume, promote yourself by handing out business cards, stop by translation bureaus in the city you are in and drop off your resume and have a friendly chat with them. That will also give you an idea of rates and what types of translations are popular. Also make use of contacts in the UK, there is a lot of work coming out of the UK that you can do anywhere in the World.
Make yourself stand out, be it Proz or the workplace.
I wish you success.


[Edited at 2007-07-26 12:38]


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Adam Hardie  Identity Verified
Serbia
Local time: 03:07
Member (2010)
Serbian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
clients not interested in previous non translation work....what to put? Jul 26, 2007

Thanks everyone for your comments so far!

Alp Berker: I understand I need to update my profile but I'm unsure what to put considering I have no professional experience. The same issue with my resume/cv. Usually you put work experience on resumes/cvs but I'm pretty sure potential clients are not interested in my student bar work nor my telephone survey work for a market research company.

Any comments?

Adam


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 20:07
English to Russian
+ ...
Adam, you have a great advantage Jul 26, 2007

You are a native English speaker in the country where likely there are not too many, and you have a college education. You have a lot to offer. I would start with simpler things - correspondence, travel and tourism (don't mean to underestimate any subject, there is no such thing as easy translation but I'm sure you can translate things like hotel amenities, services and tour schedules). You can offer proofreading of generic texts into English. For now stay away from any work into Serbian, present yourself as a rare and valued native species:-)! I'm sure local agencies and/or Serbia-based US/UK companies will be more than happy to use you. Get their list and send you resume to all. I'm not so sure you'll be happy with local rates but then again, your position is stronger than you might think. Negotiate. Just don't jump into complicated, special fields right away. Also, don't forget that you can offer interpretation services, escort/social for starters. Maybe make some money on a side working as a tour guide in hot season - priceless experience for translator/interpreter.

Good luck,
Irene


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 20:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
They will be interested if they are smart Jul 26, 2007

Adam Hardie wrote:
Usually you put work experience on resumes/cvs but I'm pretty sure potential clients are not interested in my student bar work nor my telephone survey work for a market research company.


Not at all; for many aspiring translators the key that unlocked the door to translating was an opportunity to translate a text in a (non-translation) field with which they were familiar from previous experience. A wise client will recognize the linguistic skills and experience that you gained from your past experiences and environments.


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Adam Hardie  Identity Verified
Serbia
Local time: 03:07
Member (2010)
Serbian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Updated my profile...criticims, comments, advice? Jul 26, 2007

Hey everyone,

Again thanks for all the encouraging words and great advice!

I've updated my profile....let me know what you think? Any more improvements I could make? Criticism?

Regards,

Adam


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Alp Berker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:07
Turkish to English
+ ...
It takes time... Jul 26, 2007

Hi Adam,
It looks like a great start, it takes time to build up a resume and experience, but you can add to this through taking part in proz activites, answering kudoz and putting in for jobs in Proz to update your profile. Not everything on you Proz website is about experience, you can also showcase your personality and interests, and you may be surprised if people stop on your page and look.
You can highlight your recent University knowledge with your computer skills etc.
You can list volunteer work, if you are a member of any clubs etc. Your Bar work could be usefull in proofing legal documents. You market research could be usefull on a company doing research on the UK or Serbia. Sometimes things that you think are obscure could help you get a job.
Do what you need to do to stand out. Highlight the fact you have a language degree, many people like myself don't have this.



Adam Hardie wrote:

Thanks everyone for your comments so far!

Alp Berker: I understand I need to update my profile but I'm unsure what to put considering I have no professional experience. The same issue with my resume/cv. Usually you put work experience on resumes/cvs but I'm pretty sure potential clients are not interested in my student bar work nor my telephone survey work for a market research company.

Any comments?

Adam


[Edited at 2007-07-26 19:54]

[Edited at 2007-07-26 19:55]


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Andrew Levine  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:07
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
A few questions for Adam Jul 26, 2007

Adam, I too am a recent graduate (I got my degree in French, with a focus in Translation, in May of this year). Only two months after starting as a freelance translator I find that I am starting to get enough jobs to make a respectable living.

1. Which CAT software do you use? I had been told, at university, that many agencies would not hire me unless I used a tool like Trados or Wordfast. I recommend adding to your profile the name(s) of software you use for translating.

2. Advertise low rates. I don't know what rates are like for Slavonic languages but they are probably a little higher than for French->English (my pair). Check what other freelancers in your pairs are charging, then undercut them. Agencies will understand that they are getting a discount for someone with less experience but a lot of dedication and good work ethic.

3. Be sure to understand how to work with agencies. Read the topics in the Translation art & business thread to understand some of the issues that commonly come up.

4. Don't be afraid to limit the fields you work in. Nobody can possibly translate every single kind of text. For example I don't work with heavily technical medical texts, or culinary texts, because I have no experience in these areas of study. On the other hand I have a two-year degree in computer science to go with my translation degree, so I emphasize my familiarity with IT.

5. Send out resumes to lots of agencies. That's important. Remember that even agencies which aren't in English-speaking or Slavic countries need Slavic-language-to-English translators -- so don't neglect to contact them!


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 21:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
For Andrew ... Jul 26, 2007

Andrew Levine wrote:

... Check what other freelancers in your pairs are charging, then undercut them. Agencies will understand ... they are getting a good work ethic.


Where on Earth did you get the idea that undercutting experienced translators' tariffs is 'good work ethics'?

MediaMatrix


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 21:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
Oh dear ... Jul 26, 2007

Adam asked:

Just graduated from university....what next?



I'm just wondering, Adam, why you've waited until now to question whether translation can provide you with a decent living and how to go about pocketing that first job.

Shouldn't that have been the subject of detailed investigation before even going to university? And didn't your studies teach you anything about the real world, and how to get into, and on in, professional life?

Is that harsh? - Maybe! But I knew even before I went to primary school that I wanted to be an engineer (that was Granpa's fault - he gave me a Meccano set for Christmas when I was just four years old!), and although I never built real bridges or real earth-movers, I did from that point on pursue engineering as a hobby and later as a profession and it's been serving me well for ... over 40 years.

If only todays' youngsters had ambition and forethought!

MediaMatrix


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Adam Hardie  Identity Verified
Serbia
Local time: 03:07
Member (2010)
Serbian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
WHy 'oh dear?' Jul 27, 2007

Dear Mediamatrix,

It could be seen as a bit harsh yes. :-/ Not everyone knows what they want to do in life from an early age. Infact I wanted to be the classic fireman, doctor or vet when I was very small. But then things change, as you go to school. From highschool I KNEW that I wished to pursue a career in languages, but not what exactly I wanted to do. I could only study French at school, but in reality I was FAR more interested in Eastern Europe, and as a result went to university at a young age 17 in my hometown and did Russian and French. Even after 2 years of that I was not completely happy and thus changed (having grown up a bit more, and more willing to go anywhere for what I really want), moved far away from home and studied Serbian/Croatian - which was my main interest and passion. It has paid off - I now have a degree, and am living in a country which I love. Perhaps that IS ambition?

My studies are not designed to teach me about the real world, or how to get a professional career - that is for me to discover myself and through the help of others. My studies are to equip me with the skills (practical and language wise) which I require - but landing that first job is my responsibilitiy, and the mistakes/achievements are mine to make.

In my opinion university (for those who go to university - not everyone needs it for their life), not childhood, is the place where a young adult matures into the adult who has a clearer idea of what he/she wished to do. Taking different classes in ealier years, focusing on more specific subjects in later years (as such I completed 2 advanced translation subjects - is that not knowing what I want to do and thus focusing on it?).

Maybe for some people they know exactly what they wish to do as a 12 year old - others don't. At least I know what it is is I want to do now and have taken some major steps towards it.

Regards,

Adam


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Radica Schenck  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:07
English to Macedonian
+ ...
connect. Jul 27, 2007

Maybe networking with colleagues with the same language combination who don't have English as a mother tongue might open new prospects for collaboration. E.g. When I translate into German or English, upon client's permission, I always have my translation proofread by a native speaker. It costs me extra (that's why I don't do price dumping, can't afford to be cheap, as I can't afford my work to be cheap neither).

But before you start with anything, reflect what areas would you like to work in. Real estate? You have a great market with many potential customers in Belgrade. Technical? Which one? Make contacts with expert people in that professional area. Websites? Explain to companies you want to work with why it is important that their products/services or whatever it is they're selling or advertising is presented in good English that should reach their target groups. What I'm suggesting is to try with a specific circle of potential clients. Translation agencies or direct clients? Local or international? Make a list of priorities. a) clients b) areas of expertise.. 1. Ideal , 2. can 3. would do, 4. not interested. Identify people, venues, marketing tools. Make contacts & implement. Follow-up. And back to the list again. It is a process. Tiresome, but rewarding.

Offer extra services, in terms of being client-oriented. Not spreading too thin, but rather being reliable and good quality. Assuming that...

One no-no. Undercutting & dumping means only you'll have to work for free, considering the local rates there. An alternative is to do this profession with dignity. Some learn this with time, some learn it from peers. Some never do.

Good luck!


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