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Off topic: How to get into the business?
Thread poster: MartaZ
MartaZ  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:00
English to Polish
+ ...
Dec 28, 2007

Hi all,

I am about to start my career as an interpreter/translator. I've got a degree in English philology from Poland, I am currently studying MA Translation and Interpreting at Westminster Uni (finishing in October 2008) and I've also passed the DPSI exam. So I am kind of qualified, right?

I have been sending my cv/applications everywhere possible because what I really need right now is experience, unfortunately I haven't been lucky as every employer I approached requires experience on top of qualifications. This is fair enough obviously, but on the other hand it's a vicious am I supposed to gain experience if noone wants to employ me? I know some agencies offer placements but they are usually unpaid and last for three months minimum, I can't afford not to work for such a long period of time.

Any thoughts? Please share your experiences from when you were beginner translators/interpreters.



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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:00
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
some suggestions Dec 28, 2007

Dear Marta,
you could start to participate at your Kudoz-section and bid on jobs here at proz and elsewhere. Are you sure you are registered at all important sites for translation services?
Many agencies have online forms, where you can register.
Be prepared to do a lot of test translations.
Not all outsourcers are keen on previous experience. While waiting you could do some translations on your own and let them edit by an experiences colleague prior to publishing them as reference.
Are you familiar with Translation Environment Tools like SDL Trados, Transit, DV? Get those for free evaluation and try them out, so that when the moment comes you will be ready.
And always make sure, the outsourcer has a good record regarding payment. There are notorious non-payers waiting out there for newcomers!

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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:00
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
ITI Dec 28, 2007

You might consider joining the ITI (the Institute of Translation and Interpreting). That would entitle you to apply to join the Peer Support Group in March next year, to help you get a start in the business. Check out the ITI website

The ITI also run various events for interpreters, and there is also a Professional Development Course starting in February. This too is designed for people in your position. In particular, on March 9 there is a Business skills course, on how to break into this market, and specifically how to break through the "no experience / no work" barrier.

This course is actually being held at the University of Westminster (and I should confess I am one of the tutors.)

Meanwhile, I agreee with Heinrich Pesch's advice about Kudoz, ProZ and agencies.

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Local time: 20:00
French to Spanish
+ ...
Getting started as well! Dec 28, 2007


I am a native French and Spanish speaker. I have a degree in English Philology and several courses in translation and interpreting. I haven't done any master because they are all too expensive, and I can't afford them. I have done some translations though, but I can't getting started, yet that's why at the moment I'm working as an English, French and Spanish teacher. I also speak German.
What can I do?
I have just joined Proz but I'm not sure about filling in all the required fields...
Can anyone give me some advice?
Thank you

[Editado a las 2007-12-28 11:26]

[Editado a las 2007-12-28 11:27]

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Crystal Samples  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:00
French to English
+ ...
Volunteer translations Dec 28, 2007

Try doing some volunteer translation work to gain experience AND references. You can get experience in many fields (medical, environmental, U.N. and international organizations, news and media, etc.) and build a portfolio of translations samples to send to potential employers. Also, when bidding on jobs, look for ones that provide a sample text to be translated. That way, the client will be looking more at your translation skills than at your experience or lack there of.

Try these organizations:

Ashoka Volunteers

Changemakers - Action Without Borders


Volunteer Match

Translators Without Borders

UN Volunteers

[Edited at 2007-12-28 16:13]

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MartaZ  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:00
English to Polish
+ ...
Many thanks Dec 28, 2007


Thanks a lot for all your suggestions, I wasn't aware of many of those things! Now it seems there is a tiny light at the end of the tunnel;)

Big thanks:)


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Nobuo Kameyama  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:00
Member (2005)
English to Japanese
"How To Succeed As A Freelance Translator" Dec 29, 2007

Hi Marta,

I read "How To Succeed As A Freelance Translator" by Corinne McKay a month ago and I guess this paperback will certainly give some tips to freelance translators especially to new translators.

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