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Two questions for ProZ.com members with non-translation degrees (MBAs, JDs, MDs, etc)
Thread poster: Patrice

Patrice  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:06
Member
French to English
+ ...
Jul 21, 2007

I am compiling information for an article I am working on. I would like to know:

a) what people who have such degrees as MBAs, JDs, medical degrees, etc (degrees in other professions) get out of belonging to and/or participating in Proz or such sites; and

b) do most of you actually translate, and if so, what makes you want to translate either instead of, or in addition to, the profession you trained for?

Thank you for all comments.

(I can also be reached directly if you want your answers to remain private).

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2007-07-21 21:14]


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:06
Dutch to English
+ ...
To get the ball rolling ... Jul 21, 2007

Patricia Struyk wrote:

I am compiling information for an article I am working on. I would like to know:

a) what people who have such degrees as MBAs, JDs, medical degrees, etc (degrees in other professions) get out of belonging to and/or participating in Proz or such sites; and

b) do most of you actually translate, and if so, what makes you want to translate either instead of, or in addition to, the profession you trained for?

Thank you for all comments.

(I can also be reached directly if you want your answers to remain private).

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2007-07-21 21:14]


1. Same as any other translator

2. Yes, I translate. in addition to legal consulting for my firm back in South Africa (where I still hold an interest) and legal research for other firms, regardless of location.

In my case, I moved continents and to a different legal system. Although I speak Portuguese well - it's the language my husband and children speak to each other at home - my passive skills are far stronger and it would be folly to think I'll ever be at the same level linguistically as a sharp Portuguese lawyer. In law the ability to argue in court and play on/twist words is paramount. So I decided to do what they can't do and offer a fringe service, capitalising on my legal background.

If we ever decide to relocate to an English-speaking country at any stage, I'll probably revert to mainstream law or lecturing but, compared to legal practice, there is no/hardly any stress in translating and for the money I'm making, I can't complain.

My partners back at the law firm in South Africa are green with envy that I can work at home, from an office in the hills looking down to a distant sea view, remain in touch with the law and earn well. I find it lonely at times but am mostly so busy, I don't think about it - every job has its drawbacks.

[Edited at 2007-07-22 20:51]


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Ana SIERRA VINUESA
Spain
Local time: 03:06
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
and rolling... Jul 21, 2007

Hello,

I will answer the same as Lawyer-Linguist: 1. Same as any other translator, i guess we all like languages?¿

2. I do not translate full-time as I work as doctor but on my maternity leave I did, indeed I began to translate on that period and almost as full-time translator¡¡¡¡¡¡ I like a lot to translate but it is hard for me to stay all the day at home without many human contact if you fully work as translator....I am used to a more active job....


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Juliana Starkman  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 22:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
Less politics Jul 21, 2007

I suppose than my previous work, which was lecturing, post Ph.D. at a couple of universities, doing research, applying for grants...

To answer your queries...

1. The same boring answer...
2. I do translate. I always have. Since my B.A I always had articles that I wanted to share with colleagues or students, which ahd to be translated. I discovered I loved it, and (I think) had a good sense for nuance and context, so I kept at it after I abandoned academics when I first got preggers and never went back- just kept on translating. When I need more "real" human contact I do some interpreting as well.


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Dr. Jason Faulkner  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:06
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
It's portable and doesn't call at 2 a.m. with palpitations Jul 22, 2007

a) I don't know. Sounds like you need to do a market survey on that one. Does Henry have any numbers?
b) I translate quite a bit. At times it's full time (in doctor hours, 60+ per week), other times it's an hour or so per day. I throttle it according to my availability/needs. I translate in addition to the profession I trained for (medicine) because the profession I trained for is not very lucrative in the countries I tend to live. It's only profitable if you see a high volume of patients (25+ per 8 hour day), and you can't see that kind volume of patients and do it well. Not in general practice. I see a few patients well and hardly make anything doing it. C'est la vie en the developing world.

Considering the nature of most of my projects, I suppose I did train for translation. I mostly translate medical reports that were written by physicians to be read by physicians. It makes a big difference if it was translated by a native-language physician. It's a small niche, I know, but it's big enough for me.

I really enjoy the work and I can work it around my schedule. Also, it's very portable which allows one to travel without loosing income. I think most people would love to push buttons for a living from anywhere with a WiFi signal!


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Colin Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:06
Italian to English
+ ...
If you can't do it, then translate it... Jul 22, 2007

My degree is in computer applications and I am now doing another degree in linguistics.
I use PROZ for the same reason that qualified translators use it, i.e. to help with translations and to network etc. (And to suggest quick polls... I'm addicted.)
Yes, I translate, around 80% of my work comes from translations. The rest is language teaching.

To answer your question about why I'm not working in computing: when I studied computer applications, it was way back in the 1980s. Back then, at least in Ireland, computers were still something of a "black art" and it was immensely appealing to spotty youngsters who wore spectacles and liked Star Trek. I loved playing with computers, and I did well at university.

After graduating, I got a job as a programmer. And then everything changed... the reality of software development is that 99% of it is excruciatingly boring. And my degree really didn't prepare me for it; I am still not aware of any computing qualification that presents its students with the single most common real-world problem in the computer industry - modifying a program that someone else has written. It's staggering, really!

So anyway, I spent ten really unhappy years as a software engineer, hating every minute of it but enjoying the money very much. It was a gilded prison. Finally I couldn't stand it any more and I dumped everything and went to Italy to teach English. The money was awful - I've met TEFL teachers who were living in tents! - and I was expecting to live like a pauper forever. Then as my Italian improved, people sent me translation work, and I discovered that I was really good at that, because I liked writing. I had tried to write (i.e. create) before, but I discovered that I wasn't very good at that sort of writing, because I don't have a great imagination: my writing skills are all low-level. I just like playing with words, so translating and editing is perfect for me because someone else goes to all the trouble of actually creating the text, which means I can devote all my time to "rewriting" it.

And now, three years into my translating career, I find that the money isn't bad, either. If I was a programmer I would be earning a lot more, there's no doubt about that. But I'd be miserable.

I hope this has helped you.


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
Degrees versus professions Jul 22, 2007

On my first day of college, the Dean told us that in the United States, 80% of college graduates end up working in a field unrelated to their degree. His suggestion, therefore, was to study things we found interesting and challenging.

I followed his suggestion and studied something fun but "useless": languages. I then worked for 14 years as an information technology specialist, with translating as a comparatively minor sideline.

In much of the world, and certainly in Europe and Latin America, there is a cultural link between degree and profession. I see this when I translate university diplomas: where the wording on a U.S. diploma might describe it as "a degree in Economics," the equivalent diplomas in many countries say "degree as an Economist."

In the U.S. and, I believe, in Canada, there is much more career flexibility than elsewhere, so someone with a J.D. or an M.D. could plausibly wind up as a farmer, business executive, or translator, and it would surprise no one.

[Edited at 2007-07-22 14:50]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 03:06
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Translation was a subsidiary subject... Jul 22, 2007

a) I translate profesionally full time.

b) I trained as a technical librarian, (B.SC Information Science in those days) with German as a subsidiary subject.

Then I moved to Denmark and could not get a job as a librarian, especially as I did not speak Danish. When I had learnt the language, jobs were still hard to find, so I took what I could get and trained at night school in French and German, then finally landed a job with a translation agency.

I have a postgraduate diploma in translation (Danish to English) and keep working at CPD - and it is the best job I've ever had. I reckon to keep going until I retire, which by now is not too far ahead, but ask me again in 10 years!


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:06
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Interesting survey Jul 22, 2007

Patricia Struyk wrote:

a) what people who have such degrees as MBAs, JDs, medical degrees, etc (degrees in other professions) get out of belonging to and/or participating in Proz or such sites


I trained in Fine Arts (BFA & MFA), but the first job I landed was language-related, since speaking foreign languages was a fairly active hobby. This prompted me to take postgraduate studies in translation/interpretation, and when I was already working in the field, I went back to my original studies and finished a PhD.

My specialist area in art (sculpture/architecture and art history/theory) is not very portable, and to that extent does not exactly jive well with the demand to constantly travel and keep up-to-date with language. However, I consider that a challenge, and an advantage in specialised texts.

Proz.com helps keep me up-to-date and reduces the effort it would otherwise take me to maintain my working language combinations (four source and two target languages).

b) do most of you actually translate, and if so, what makes you want to translate either instead of, or in addition to, the profession you trained for?


I mainly translate. I was never one to cater to a massified art audience and the financial independence it provides helps me maintain my position.


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:06
Member (2005)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Circumstances and decisions Jul 23, 2007

I trained as an architect in Hungary, and a few years after finishing my degree I came to England and took the necessary exams to practice here.

I spent nearly fifteen years in the profession, built three large housing estates, some individual buildings, house extensions, and some two dozen doctors' surgeries.
The timescale of the housing estates was between 3-5 years. The other works involved people who didn't know what they wanted, fought with each other, having unrealistic expectations, etc. My job was 10% fun when designing and solving problems, the rest endless meetings, paperwork, bureaucracy, compromises.

When my boys were born, I stayed at home for a while, and people started to ask if I could translate a letter, an article, this, that. Time came to earn a living again and I thought I have a choice.

I could go to another 9-5 job in some architects' office, build another three or four housing estates, maybe a dozen large buildings in my professional career. I could carry on, battle with the authorities left right and centre, keep control over a number of people to do their jobs and do them well, and deal with hundreds more, who have a say or involvement in the process, with all the administration this involves.
I could work for myself in the profession. I could spend a lot of effort trying to convince people that if I put the staircase where they want it, they wouldn't be able to straighten up when using it, that they can't have a bathroom and a kitchen in a 2x2 sqm space, and their budget doesn't stretch to marble floors, but I would like to be paid as well, please. Not to mention those, who would demand endless variations on a theme, making you work just for them month on end, not willing to believe how much time you spent on their pet project, and at the end declare that after all, they changed their mind, and they not building, they are selling off.

Alternatively, I could carry on translating. By then I did some interpreting as well, giving an extra string to my bow. I could have different subjects, jobs and people to deal with day in and day out. There would be variety and human timescale. One bad client wouldn't hit so hard. I wouldn't be so BORED most of the time, because of the fast turnover and the interest the jobs offer.

What else can I say? I don't regret the unbuilt buildings, I can always visit the ones I built before.
I can pick and choose the work I do, and how much I take on, although I became more of a workaholic, because I enjoy it. I learned a lot, and gained some professional qualifications. Every new job is a challenge from beginning to end for a set period, instead of a short period of challenge during the indeterminate number of years the job takes.
I don't have to rely on a horde of people to do their job to be able to do mine, and I don't have to be disappointed, when they don't show the same commitment.

I never know, what turns up tomorrow, but that's the fun of it, and I enjoy to concentrate on it for a relatively short period to produce the best I am capable of.

Reirement? What's that? Does it happen to translators too?


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