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Translation student's bad experience - advice requested
Thread poster: Bianca AH
Bianca AH  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:18
French to English
+ ...
Jun 13, 2005

I'm doing a Masters in Translation and at this stage am in need of experience to build up a portfolio as part of my studies.

This is why I applied for a translation job on a voluntary basis for a humanitarian cause, i.e. gratis, as the experience is valuable. I was contacted immediately by the client and set up a deadline with her. I enquired about the text and asked for a name of the company. The client explained the nature of the company. Out of friendly banter and, perhaps, to show my experience in this particular area, I replied that I had done work for a similar organisation. The client then emailed me again saying that if ever I needed translations done (??) that I should contact her. I thanked her and then asked for the name of the org for which I would be translating.

The friendly and professional correspendence suddenly turned very cold as I was sent a harsh email asking rather frankly whether I wanted this job or not. I replied and apologised for what I assumed must have been a misunderstanding and explained why I wanted the name of the org.

I then recieved an equally cold email informing me of the client's extensive experience in translation and that "the clause" stipulates that I am only privvy to such information once the translation has been properly done, how audacious of me that I should even ask, and that she would no longer be needing my services.

I will write this off as a bad experience. But is this client right? Was I wrong to ask? What is "the clause" she refers to?


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Giuliana Buscaglione  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 20:18
Member (2001)
German to Italian
+ ...
It was your right to know Jun 13, 2005

Hi Bianca,

I am sorry you had such a bad experience. Still, no, you weren't wrong.

If I decide to do some translations for an humanitarian organisation, I want to know for whom I am doing the job, and definitely before accepting to do it.

"The Clause"?! No idea at all.. a bluff.

The fact that your "outsourcer" has offered her services as a translator makes me very very suspicious.

I am a Jobs coordinator at ProZ.com (Ralf Lemster is my fellow Jobs coordinator and we coordinate ProZ.com Jobs Area with a team of Jobs / BB moderators). Did you come to this contact via ProZ.com? If yes, would you be so nice and contact me via my profile with details that can't be mentioned in a publich thread?

Thank you.

Giuliana


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Andrea Appel
Canada
Local time: 14:18
English to German
+ ...
No need to act this harsh but, Jun 13, 2005

you do not ask for the end clients name or org. as this could be an indication for the other company that you would want to take their contract away. Internet is full with bad people and therefore I can understand the reaction of the company even though it wasn´t your intention at all.
Most translators have to sign a confidentiality agreement were this clause is included.

But it is not your fault you just did not know. Oh well (-; don´t worry.

Kind regards,
Andrea


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Deschant
Local time: 19:18
Humanitarian causes Jun 13, 2005

If I were to do some pro bono work for a NGO or non-profit association, I would certainly want to know its name. Don't forget you are giving your time and work as a donation: it's not very different from giving money. And if I decided to gave money to such an organisation, I would like to make sure I know its name and purposes... not only the kind of work they do or the causes they support.

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Aleksandr Okunev
Local time: 22:18
English to Russian
One more point Jun 13, 2005

Andrea Di Marco wrote: ... this could be an indication for the other company that you would want to take their contract away.


I agree. But probably not take her contract away, because it is a gratis project, but finding out that the end client is paying normal rate for it (you can translate a lorry manual for a charity and for a company, can't you?)

It is not a bad experience. A Russian saying goes: "One beaten person counts as two unbeaten ones". Forget it.

I once interpreted for "Feed The Children". they are really nice folks. Try contacting them. Their home base is Oklahoma,

The URL is www.feedthechildren.org, sorry for my previous error.

Good luck!
Alex
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~-~~>


[Edited at 2005-06-13 14:10]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
You found an agency Jun 13, 2005

...and their business is to sell the work, not give it away for free. So if you had done it for free for the agency, they would have turned around and sold it and made all the money by taking advantage of your good intentions.

Don't deal with agencies, find a deserving organization and do it for them directly.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
an agency? Jun 13, 2005

[quote]Bianca AH wrote:

.... I enquired about the text and asked for a name of the company. .... The client then emailed me again saying that if ever I needed translations done (??) that I should contact her. I thanked her and then asked for the name of the org for which I would be translating.

The friendly and professional correspendence suddenly turned very cold as I was sent a harsh email asking rather frankly whether I wanted this job or not. ....
I then recieved an equally cold email informing me of the client's extensive experience in translation and that "the clause" stipulates that I am only privvy to such information once the translation has been properly done ....

quote]

sounds to me like this person might be acting as an agent and getting paid! why else be so secretive?


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Gayle Wallimann  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:18
Member (2001)
French to English
+ ...
Translate for an organization, not an agency Jun 13, 2005

Hi Bianca,

This link might be of interest to you.

http://www.proz.com/topic/28146

I see that you translate French to English, and this was in the French forum.

As for the reaction, I also suspect that the agency was planning on being paid for your free translation.

Bad experience, yes, but a good learning one.

Good luck!
Gayle


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:18
Member (2004)
English to Italian
mmmm... Jun 13, 2005

they were obviously trying to get a free traslation out of you. If they were doing it for free as well, why wouldn't they give you the name of the organisation? I think they were scared that you would contact them and blow the whistle...

Giovanni


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:18
Dutch to English
+ ...
Don't feel bad Jun 13, 2005

I agree with all the postings so far.

I regularly ask who the end customer is even when it is not pro bono. Mainly so that I can check the style of the company through their website if they have one. OK, my customers know me and I have signed confidentiality agreements so I am not likely to take away their customers.

I think it sounds very suspicious too!


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Bianca AH  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:18
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
My suspicions confirmed! Jun 13, 2005

Firstly, as someone who is starting out in the translation world, it is very reasuring to know that such a wealth of knowledge and expert advice is available! And apart from this learning curve, the ProZ experience has so far been very pleasant!

I did start to pick up clues that led me to believe what many suspect - making money off voluntary translation work. But I like to find the best in people.

All your advice is very, very much appreciated, and I hope to learn more. Keep it coming!

Warmest regards,
Bianca


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Mario Cerutti  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 04:18
Italian to Japanese
+ ...
Why free? Jun 13, 2005

I've got just a simple question: why is everybody (or almost everybody) assuming that for NPO organizations one has to work for free? I would accept that, since they are running on a limited budget, they might request a discount. However, if I am not wrong, being NPO doesn't necessarily mean they they don't have money available for outsourcing services such as translation.

Am I wrong in this?


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
They revealed themselves Jun 14, 2005

This kind of attack without reasoning is typical for (ungifted) fraudsters, particularly when they are caught.

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gad
United States
Local time: 14:18
Member
French to English
Chalk it up to a bad experience but learn from it Jun 15, 2005

I would say that it was not necessary for you to ask TWICE for the name of the company. It probably wasn't necessary for you to even ask at all. However, I would certainly agree that the reaction was rathere harsh. There's nothing you can do now but try to learn from it, meaning that first of all, there is no reason for you to ask the name of the client, especially since if you do then you might run into someone who unfortunately turns unprofessional and nasty.;)

I have to say I've had my disappointments in the translation industry, with terribly unprofessional emails. The first time it happened I was a bit shocked, as I try to remain professional in all my contacts, though of course like you, I've made my mistakes as well. But I guess part of us encountering this unprofessionalism could possibly be the result of cultural differences (well, in my case, anyway). Still, I don't see that as an excuse, honestly.

Anyway, what you COULD do is contact them and apologize and explain that you did not mean to overstep your boundaries but rather you just wanted to prepare yourself well to do a good job on the translation. It never hurts to try to smooth things over, even if you never do deal with them again - if you respond in a professional manner then not only are you the better person, but perhaps it will discourage this party from potentially badmouthing you to others and damaging your professional reputation.

In any case, chalk it up to a learning experience. Good luck with this and best wishes.


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xxxsarahl
Local time: 11:18
English to French
+ ...
Exactly! Jun 16, 2005

Mario Cerutti wrote:

I've got just a simple question: why is everybody (or almost everybody) assuming that for NPO organizations one has to work for free? I would accept that, since they are running on a limited budget, they might request a discount. However, if I am not wrong, being NPO doesn't necessarily mean they they don't have money available for outsourcing services such as translation.

Am I wrong in this?


Thanks for bringing this up. I don't think the people who post these jobs or the people holding executive positions in all these NGOs work for free. Why should we? I don't think they ask their plummer to work for free, or do they?


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