Doubts about Working in the Industry
Thread poster: John-Paul Greco

John-Paul Greco  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:39
English to Italian
+ ...
Jul 22, 2009

I haven't tried to find work in quite a while because there are things I've been having doubts about. I've had some bad experiences with jobs, and since then I've been hesitant to accept any more offers for work. My biggest doubt has more to do with meeting deadlines, particularly when they are tight deadlines and the jobs are rather large. One of the problems I've had in particular is of having to confirm whether or not I'll be able to meet a specific deadline. I find it difficult to determine with many jobs because the nature of every job is different, the level of difficulty in the terminogy tends to vary from one job to the next etc. I could outsource a certain percentage of my work to other translators, but in the event that I accept an especially large job, I might have to divide it between multiple traslators, and things could get complicated and confusing in a situation of the sort. And also, outsourcing means less money for me which is unfortunate, especially given the usual rates that translation pays for many people- I'm sure that most of you can relate to issues like these. I want to find ways to make this profession more rewarding and less stressful for me. It would be a shame for me to give up after everthing I've done to gain a foothold in it (attaining credentials, developing my portfolio and my resume/CV). I suppose I just want feedback from other translators. How rewarding have you all found this profession to be? How do you deal with these issues?

[Edited at 2009-07-22 15:39 GMT]


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conejo  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:39
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Be realistic Jul 22, 2009

You may or may not be able to outsource work to other translators. Some agreements that you sign with clients prohibit this as well. Make sure you know what the rules are.

You need to decide whether you want to outsource work or not. That is a decision in itself, the ramifications of which might be better discussed in a separate posting.

But if you decide you don't want to outsource work, then you have to 1) know how much you can complete in a given time, and 2) only promise to do jobs that fall within that scope. Basically, you can't accept some huge job that requires 3x the daily capacity that you can do. You have to scale it down a bit, and be realistic about what you can complete.

Yes, of course sometimes we get emails from agencies asking for unrealistic deadlines... such as "I have a project of 30,000 English words due in 48 hours." Of course you can't do that much. Know your reasonable capacities and limits and work within them.


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Capesha  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:39
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
agree with conejo Jul 22, 2009

I experienced the same - agreeing to jobs with high volumes and tight deadlines and nearly loosing my nerves....
I learnt from that and now I know, which capacities are realistic and which aren't.

Outsourcing is an option - but you will have to consider that you will be responsible for the output of the 2nd or/and 3rd translator. Furthermore you will need reliable partners. I for myself decided that this is not my way to go for.

Just consider that you always have the freedom to say "no thanks".


[Bearbeitet am 2009-07-22 17:09 GMT]


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Kristaps Otrups
Denmark
Local time: 02:39
English to Latvian
+ ...
~ Jul 22, 2009

I think this is something most people working in this profession experience when they're just starting out. With time, you learn to understand your capacity, and it becomes much easier to quickly evaluate how much time a given job will take (or whether it's worth your time to undertake it at all).

One thing that many learn the hard way is that sometimes you just have to say "no" — both to spare your own nerves, and to be respectful to the client and the source material. If you want to be a professional, it's better to do no translation at all than to deliver rushed, low-quality work.


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Anil Gidwani  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 07:09
German to English
+ ...
One of the best professions in the world Jul 22, 2009

Translation has got to be one of the best and most intellectually rewarding professions in the world. I am a software engineer, and am still involved in software consulting occasionally, but primarily a translator today. Translation has its distinct advantages.

True, it doesn't pay quite as much. But the ability to be your own boss, set your own hours, and choose your own subject areas is very rewarding. The important thing to be aware of is that you are running your own business, in my opinion. A business with an uncomplicated business model to boot. And that can be worth far more than being a cog in a large corporate wheel.

It's all about pacing yourself correctly and allowing yourself to savor the process of translation. Time management plays an important role, obviously, and I suggest you concentrate on this oft-ignored area. Once you've mastered time management, bidding accurately for large volume jobs and executing them within deadlines becomes far easier. More importantly, stress levels are significantly reduced as a result, and you can enjoy the actual process of translation without worrying about slippages.

Outsourcing is a different ball-game altogether. It's a different management skill altogether, and not all translators are cut out for it. As you correctly stated, outsourcing fetches less income than actual translation. But unless you love marketing and dealing with people more than you do actual translation, why would you consider outsourcing if you are able to grow your one-person business in a controlled fashion with the appropriate time management and business skills? Outsourcing can be considered when your business grows to a point where incoming volumes exceed your capacity to execute.



[Edited at 2009-07-22 17:44 GMT]


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Tomasz Poplawski  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:39
English to Polish
+ ...
Tempting alternatives? Jul 22, 2009

John-Paul Greco wrote:
One of the problems I've had in particular is of having to confirm whether or not I'll be able to meet a specific deadline.
It would be a shame for me to give up after everthing I've done to gain a foothold in it (attaining credentials, developing my portfolio and my resume/CV). [/quote]

1. That's why on some evenings you have time to enjoy life, and on some you cut down on sleep. I don't see it as anything different from the deadline-driven corporate world.

2. Do you have any more rewarding careers lined up for yourself? I would be curious what they are - I have not found any, within my realm of possibilities, but I would love to know.


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Rebekka Groß  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:39
English to German
different issues Jul 22, 2009

John-Paul Greco wrote:

I haven't tried to find work in quite a while because there are things I've been having doubts about. I've had some bad experiences with jobs, and since then I've been hesitant to accept any more offers for work. My biggest doubt has more to do with meeting deadlines, particularly when they are tight deadlines and the jobs are rather large. One of the problems I've had in particular is of having to confirm whether or not I'll be able to meet a specific deadline. I find it difficult to determine with many jobs because the nature of every job is different, the level of difficulty in the terminogy tends to vary from one job to the next etc.


I think there are two different issues here:

1. the volume of work

2. whether you have the necessary expertise

First of all, only take on work in the areas you have expertise in. With experience, you'll be able to determine reasonably accurately how many words (lines/pages) a day you can comfortably manage, proofread and run other QA checks on (spell and grammar checks being the most basic). Then, when you are offered a job, it'll be a hell of a lot easier to determine whether or not you can manage.

Second, ask your client a few basic questions:
Is there any reference material, i. e. background info in the source language, translated material, TMs, glossaries, etc. If your clients are translation companies, you'll be surprised how much reference material they can and will provide which'll make the job easier to cope with.

Ask to see the source files, if possible. This is not foolproof because if the job is large, you can only spot check and when you receive the files you may still find that the job is beyond your level of expertise. In that case, it's often best to go back to the client and admit that you can't with good conscience do the job. Most will understand and not hold it against you. It's better to do give a job back than deliver something that screams "this translator didn't have a scoobie"

I could outsource a certain percentage of my work to other translators, but in the event that I accept an especially large job, I might have to divide it between multiple traslators, and things could get complicated and confusing in a situation of the sort. And also, outsourcing means less money for me which is unfortunate, especially given the usual rates that translation pays for many people-


Outsourcing - wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. Primarily because all my NDAs prohibit it and it's just too much hassle for too little money. At the end of the day, it's your reputation that's on the line and unless you have colleagues you can rely on 120%, I'd say forget it. But that's just my personal opinion.

I'm sure that most of you can relate to issues like these. I want to find ways to make this profession more rewarding and less stressful for me. It would be a shame for me to give up after everthing I've done to gain a foothold in it (attaining credentials, developing my portfolio and my resume/CV). I suppose I just want feedback from other translators. How rewarding have you all found this profession to be? How do you deal with these issues?


This profession can be stressful and I could write pages and pages on this subject here but I won't However, I'd be happy to respond to you in private if you want to contact me directly via my profile.

I've had my doubts about this profession in the past but I can't imagine doing anything else, Mostly, I appreciate being self-employed, being my own boss and being independent. It's not for everyone but it suits me. At the end of the day, I guess that's what you have to ask yourself.

Good luck and chin up

[Edited at 2009-07-22 23:23 GMT]


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:39
Dutch to English
+ ...
Response Jul 22, 2009

John-Paul Greco wrote:

How rewarding have you all found this profession to be?


Financially, very -- I have been able to more or less equal my earnings in law (taking into account all inflationary aspects since I stopped practising law full time). I seem to earn considerably more per year than most colleagues I speak to, but assume that is down to the fact I'm a lawyer and translator (with qualifications in both areas), opposed to those who have just jumped on the bandwagon and started calling themselves legal translators. Not that I am suggesting legal translators need to be lawyers, by no means, just that there are too many out there who haven't trained in this area at all yet have no problem pinning the label on themselves.

Intellectually, not particularly -- I found mainstream legal practice far more stimulating. That said, I'm not bored, there's enough to keep me interested for now.

Socially, not very -- if the truth be told, I miss the buzz of mainstream legal practice. I think I just need to get more involved in industry events.

Overall, this is the best career move I could have made in Europe and I'm going to keep looking forward, trying to fill the massive void created by leaving a very successful legal practice behind in South Africa for the privilege of living in a place where I can now leave my windows open at night. I can practice law in Portugal, but am not going to fool myself or insult my legal colleagues by pretending to be on the same level as them linguistically. My niche these days is to assist in areas where they are lacking, i.e. specialised legal translation.




[Edited at 2009-07-23 09:54 GMT]


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John-Paul Greco  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:39
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank-you Jul 23, 2009

Thank-you all for your feedback. Being able to translate is a skill that I'm proud of and I do enjoy putting it to use with the prospect of getting paid. I used to feel that I could do very little else other than anything music related. Sometimes I wonder if I should maybe get into the culinary field. I suppose if I am to continue to try to get work in this field, there are those hurdles I will have to overcome, particularly with regards to the business end of things. But regardless of what I decide in the end, your comments have definitely been helpful.

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Sergei Leshchinsky  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 03:39
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Watch yourself for a day or two... Jul 23, 2009

and you will know the rate...

I am with Anil in the following:

Anil Gidwani wrote:

Translation has got to be one of the best and most intellectually rewarding professions in the world...

... the ability to be your own boss, set your own hours, and choose your own subject areas is very rewarding...

Time management plays an important role, obviously, and I suggest you concentrate on this oft-ignored area.


While outsourcing add some extra time to be able to re-outsource of even do it yourself. Even good employees get force majeure circumstances at times... Nobody is perfect. So, while outsourcing I always have one extra day to cover the one-day amount of work if something pop us... When you work with the same team for years you start adjusting the time estimates on the level of intuition...

In case of very big jobs, do them in portions and _pronounce_ that the time estimate will be made after we start doing the first portion... only this way you will be able to know the real pace of your team on this specific subject matter... Then, of course, you can extrapolate...

But, in preliminary estimates, always assume the average production rate...


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