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Translation work experience placements
Thread poster: Kirsty Hamilton

Kirsty Hamilton
Local time: 10:13
German to English
+ ...
Apr 27, 2007


I'm a final-year languages & translating and interpreting studies student. I spent my year abroad working for companies in France (sports retailer) & Germany (manufacturer of speech aids for laryngectomees). Both work placements heavily involved translation, although my German placement was a mixture of translation and general office work. I graduate from university in summer, & I plan to spend my next year doing another work placement in Germany, which is being organised by my university. I want to do an MA in translating afterwards, with a view to becoming a translator in the future. My problem is that I've been offered the choice of two different work placements for next year. Translation is a major part of both placements, although they also involve general office work. The first company is a German media company, which would give me the opportunity to do something different & interesting, plus I'm unlikely ever to have the opportunity to work for a TV company again. I would be translating texts about currents affairs in the newsroom. The other placement is a German pharmaceutical company, where the translations would be more technical. I've already done one work placement at a medical company, & all of my extended translation projects have dealt with medical subjects, so this work placement could give me the chance to try and specialise in medical translations.

Basically, I'm confused about which one to choose. I know that having a specialisation is desirable. Would my work experience be too diverse if I work for the media company? Or is it too early to worry too much about specialisms? Could I honestly claim to have a specialism in medicine after working at the pharmaceutical company? Even if I end up knowing a bit about certain medications and speech aids, it doesn't seem enough to be able to say that I specialise in medical texts. If I choose the media company, is there any way that I could specialise afterwards?

My heart wants to choose the media company & my head wants to choose the pharmaceutical company. Could anyone give me any advice please? Thank you!

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Greg Hayes
Local time: 05:13
Japanese to English
+ ...
Go with your heart. Apr 27, 2007

I understand your dilemma, but if you look at the profiles of many ProZ translators, we all have many specialties. Yes, you could further develop your medical specialty, and that would have value, but developing another specialty (IMHO) probably has more value. I assume that you have kept some samples of the translations you did for the medical pharm company, so you already have those to show potential employers in the future.
Go have fun at the TV station and develop another specialty. Realistically, you will ultimately spend much more time (years) developing these (and other) specialties, so I don't think you need to worry about continuing to develop the medical specialty right now.

Good luck, and above all, have fun!


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MGL  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:13
Russian to English
if it were my choice... Apr 27, 2007

Well, if it were up to me, knowing what I know now, I would go for the pharmaceuticals only because it is an amazing opportunity to really become an expert in that terminology and in the medical/pharmaceuticals field.

TV stuff sounds fun, but with such a general array of subject matters, you won't really be adding a specialization to your resume. You'll learn their style - which is good - but it seems to me you would be missing out on a chance to really hone your skills in a specialized field.

I've worked in-house at banks and investment companies, and those were great for my translation skills because I was able to learn some really specialized terminology and had access to experts in those fields and other great resources.

good luck making your decision!

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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:13
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Go with your heart - vote #2! Apr 27, 2007

I say go with your passion (as in the book title "Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow")! Specializing in pharmaceuticals will be worthless if you don't love that field - life is short and it won't be enjoyable. If you love the media environment, go for that! It might be more specialized than you think. Besides one of the keys to getting established in business is networking. Do a great job at the media company, look for any opportunity to learn and maintain your contacts there. That's a great way to get work in the future.

Best of luck to you - you have great choices!

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