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How much work experience is necessary before going independent?
Thread poster: S_89
S_89
United Kingdom
Aug 2

Although it's theoretically possible to go freelance upon attaining a masters, is this a common practice and will it significantly hinder your work not to have years of in-house experience?

Many thanks.


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Lianne van de Ven  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:46
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Totally depends Aug 2

But why not start your career with your real name?

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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:46
French to English
Starting out Aug 2

I think you might find it interesting to go through a number of posts on the "being independent" theme or "setting up in business", etc. Some have no language qualifications, some have years of professional experience in a particular field with overseas experience and/or language skills from family, etc. Some have both. It really is so varied. There are no hard and fast rules. There are more freelance translators who have not worked as in-house linguists/proofreaders/project managers than those who have.

Read through the posts, here and elsewhere, and you'll see that if you feel you are ready and know where you will go to get your "starter pack" of clients, which can include agencies, then you can start tomorrow. Just one hint, do have at least one speciality field that you can do really well. That will always get you clients one way or another.

[Edited at 2017-08-02 18:56 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:46
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@S98 Aug 2

S_89 wrote:
Although it's theoretically possible to go freelance upon attaining a masters, is this a common practice...?


I don't know.

...and will it significantly hinder your work not to have years of in-house experience?


No, I don't think so.

However, if you can find in-house translation work where you have colleagues, I would recommend a year or two of it, to learn that which you can't learn at university.

ProZ.com does not value your qualifications... at all. One can't specify a certain qualification, qualification level or a specific translation association membership when searching for translators at ProZ.com.

Tell you what: follow this link and ask your question to a dozen or so individual members who live in the UK and claim to have a master's degree.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:46
English to Spanish
+ ...
Ditto Aug 2

Lianne van de Ven wrote:

But why not start your career with your real name?


Apparently not a single instructor in those so-called MA programs is bothering to teach students about basic etiquette in contacting professional translators or using a portal for translators.

Unconscionable.

Like Lianne (and maybe others who don't bother to answer such neophyte requests, S_89, learn some basic manners, use your real name, learn to earn our respect. Otherwise, you're wasting our time.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:46
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
In-house translation experience? Aug 3

That would probably be very useful, although I'm not sure how much actual translation is done in-house. Most large companies outsource their work, mainly through agencies. Agencies may have a few in-house translators but mainly their staff will be acting as PMs and proofreaders. 99% of the translations that come in to them will be done by us - freelancers.

But I do think it's essential to have a certain amount of maturity before going independent. I've helped many freelancers to stand up to ruthless agencies - and some have had doctorates but were really very naive. Some clients know all the tricks of trying to get you to do the impossible, and all the ways to wriggle out of payment. You do need to develop a sense of your own worth before entering the world of business. Any job will help you get that awareness, and hopefully lots of self-confidence.


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
I'd say it's possible but not advisable Aug 3

Speaking as someone who has both studied and taught on a "so-called MA program" (and still chooses to remain anonymous on this forum, due to some of the morons on it), I would say that at least some experience in-house will benefit you yugely.

1. It gives you a ready-made customer and referee when you do go solo, which is important because winning desirable (any) customers is very hard.

2. It gets you up to speed. When you go solo, one way of getting your foot in the door is taking urgent jobs that agencies' regular translators haven't got time for. To do that, you'll need to be able to churn out at least 2,000 words a day rather than the 1,000 a week required at uni.

3. You benefit from having your work checked, and from reading others' work, and get a chance to develop a specialist area or two under someone's watchful eye. It can be frustrating but is invaluable.

4. You form friendships with the other translators that might be useful in getting work later.

5. You get a salary which you can save up as a buffer for the almost inevitable lean times ahead.

I worked in-house for two agencies for a total of just five months. Longer would have been better but that was all I could stomach. Even so, those two contacts are still indirectly responsible for all the work I do today, more than 20 years on. Not one of my customers has come through active sales work.


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Joe France
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:46
Member (2016)
French to English
+ ...
It depends on your degree and any past experience Aug 3

It depends entirely: my translation postgrad was primarily based in theory. I didn't touch a CAT tool the entire time. Wasn't taught what the process of handling a translation order was. So, if I had gone freelance straight away, I'd have had no idea what I was doing. If you've no past professional experience in translation, I wouldn't recommend it.

I worked in-house for five months - and it was a very, very steep learning curve. Demoralising at times. But, unfortunately, many university degrees (especially the less vocational ones in the UK, it seems) do not make you into a translator that will be of any use to 90% of agencies out there - though I have a friend who studied an MA at Leeds who seems to have had a much more practically-oriented course.

Working in house boosts your stamina for translating and proofing and checking for hours at a time; it teaches you how to use software many agencies require; it teaches you where to look and how the market works, and - most importantly for working freelance - if it's a small agency you work at, you'll probably learn the ins and outs of running and business and the etiquette of the translation industry.

I know a lot of friends who work in-house as project managers and barely ever get to do hands-on translation. The wages for in-house translators straight out of uni are also not great, by any stretch. My girlfriend worked in a café while I worked in-house and earned more. In fact, I stopped working in-house because the wage was unsustainable. I didn't love my time working there, because it was hard work for not very much money and I didn't feel like I improved much - but looking back, I wouldn't have survived three months as a freelancer without it. I would say go in-house if you can, take in as much as you can, then go for it.

(I'm not quite as offended as some of the other repliers, but you really should fill out a profile. You'll get next to nowhere on ProZ without it - and you'd have got a more detailed reply if we knew more about you...)


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 13:46
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
In-house work Aug 3

Sheila Wilson wrote:

That would probably be very useful, although I'm not sure how much actual translation is done in-house. Most large companies outsource their work, mainly through agencies. Agencies may have a few in-house translators but mainly their staff will be acting as PMs and proofreaders. 99% of the translations that come in to them will be done by us - freelancers.


I don't know whether it's 99% or less (personally, I'd say less), but in my experience another thing to consider is the fact that some agencies might very well decide to use internal translator teams for their most prestigious clients and/or for particularly important projects, while outsourcing less sensitive/critical work.

To the OP: if you're "lucky", you could get into one of those teams and even be granted permission to add all of that in your résumé once you go freelance, instead of having to resort to rather underwhelming and dull statements such as "I translated content for one of the most important global companies operating in the X industry", etc.

Also, +1 to what Chris wrote.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:46
French to English
@ S_89 Aug 3

You don't actually say what subject your degree is in. Judging by the answers others have posted, like me, they have assumed you have done a masters in translation. Three questions in order for answers to be a little more specific:
- what is the subject of your undergraduate degree?
- what is the subject of your master's degree?
- what internships and/or work experience (translation or other) have you done?

With this informationn, comments and suggestions posted are more likely to be better targetted and more helpful to you.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:46
French to English
@ All Aug 3

In returning to the list to see other questions, I found this other post by S_89, which may help those wishing to make further posts.

http://www.proz.com/forum/getting_established/317369-is_"politics_and_economics"_a_viable_specialism_for_german_english_combination.html

Edit to add:

"My degree was in politics (in the UK) and a lot of my early work experience was politically based - I interned for MPs and research organizations etc.

I've learnt German consistently since I was 12 (I'm in my late 20s now) and I've lived and worked in Germany for 6 years (obviously using solely German) and recently undertook a masters in translation, as I feel this line of work is the most suited to me, based upon my skills and talents.

My question is: especially considering the UK is leaving the EU and hence there will be many issues with Europe regarding this in the next 10 years, is politics a viable specialism in terms of earning a living?

I know translators who have told me the best specialisms are legal or medical.

Is it really possible to have politics as a specialism, or should I focus on something more commercially viable?"

Comment. You have a wealth of experience and qualifications to put to use. You have also acquired organisational experience and practice so I'm not sure that working in-house (I suppose you mean in a translation agency) would make that much difference. It might be interesting, it might be helpful. Chances are, you would learn something from it, as one does from anything. Are you ready to go freelance now? Probably yes, as ready as one can ever be!

[Edited at 2017-08-03 10:11 GMT]


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Lukeh17  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:46
German to English
+ ...
Mentoring Sep 4

Hi,

Have you thought about mentoring? You will gain lots of advice there, that is what I think I will do if I can't get an in-house job. With mentoring you will be close contact with a professional who will hopefully have a similar specialisation to you. You may get an insight into how they run their business, how to deal with clients and give you some of their work to do. All of this experience sounds invaluable to me.

You will not only have a network set up but they may recommend you when you first set up. Something worth considering.

Good luck


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Texte Style
Local time: 13:46
French to English
no need Sep 5

Mario Chavez wrote:

Lianne van de Ven wrote:

But why not start your career with your real name?


Apparently not a single instructor in those so-called MA programs is bothering to teach students about basic etiquette in contacting professional translators or using a portal for translators.

Unconscionable.

Like Lianne (and maybe others who don't bother to answer such neophyte requests, S_89, learn some basic manners, use your real name, learn to earn our respect. Otherwise, you're wasting our time.


S-89, please take no notice of this. I have been on this forum for ages and have never given my name, to avoid stalking. Some translators get work from this website and so it's preferable for them to give their real name and look pro. If you're only here for a chat and to learn about working as a translator, there is no need to give your real name

Lianne and Mario, there are many reasons for not giving your real name here. First of all, to avoid stalking. You may not have suffered from this, I have, and I can assure you it's really creepy and frightening.
Also, a student may not want to use their real name until they actually start working, when they'll create a fresh account, not wanting clients to see the "stupid questions" they may have asked here as a student.

Either way, it's a free world. If you don't want to answer because the OP didn't use their real name, you don't have to. Same as the rest of us can answer if we feel like it.


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Lianne van de Ven  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:46
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
@Texte Style Sep 7

Texte Style wrote:

Mario Chavez wrote:

Lianne van de Ven wrote:

But why not start your career with your real name?


Apparently not a single instructor in those so-called MA programs is bothering to teach students about basic etiquette in contacting professional translators or using a portal for translators.

Unconscionable.

Like Lianne (and maybe others who don't bother to answer such neophyte requests, S_89, learn some basic manners, use your real name, learn to earn our respect. Otherwise, you're wasting our time.


S-89, please take no notice of this. I have been on this forum for ages and have never given my name, to avoid stalking. Some translators get work from this website and so it's preferable for them to give their real name and look pro. If you're only here for a chat and to learn about working as a translator, there is no need to give your real name

Lianne and Mario, there are many reasons for not giving your real name here. First of all, to avoid stalking. You may not have suffered from this, I have, and I can assure you it's really creepy and frightening.
Also, a student may not want to use their real name until they actually start working, when they'll create a fresh account, not wanting clients to see the "stupid questions" they may have asked here as a student.

Either way, it's a free world. If you don't want to answer because the OP didn't use their real name, you don't have to. Same as the rest of us can answer if we feel like it.


Please note that just because someone quotes me, that does not mean I agree with their point of view...


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:46
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
But ... Sep 8

... how do we know anyone's name or photo here are genuine, anyway? How do we know that Mario Chavez is who he says he is? And is that really you in the photo, Mario? If your name actually is Mario! You could be anybody. For all I know, you might be Donald Trump, or Madonna, or Mark Ruffalo, or Elvis posting from the tomb.

Maybe the OP's real name is S-89. Maybe it's a fake, and the real name is V-46. So what? Just because you're on a forum doesn't mean you have to be upfront with everything. If people aren't keen to work with someone who goes by a number, S-89 will find out soon enough.


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