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From student to translator
Thread poster: Trisha F

Trisha F  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:03
English to Spanish
+ ...
Nov 11, 2009

Hello,

My name is Patricia and I'm relatively new here. I had registered a few months ago but didn't become a member until today. This is the very first thread I start in this forum.

Well, I have just finished an MA in Translation Studies in the UK. I handed in my dissertation and I'm still waiting for results. I am very nervous about it, of course but I'm also worried about the transition from student to professional translator. My work experience is "broken" so to say, I've never had a "proper job" and I've worked in not so qualified things in order to earn money so sadly I now find myself in my late twenties with very little experience in translation and in most things I've worked in for that matter. I am a published writer though and have therefore a good command of my own mother language (Spanish). I have also lived in England for quite a while now, I'm very knowledgeable of British culture and feel very confident speaking and writing in English. I have been told I have very good translation skills but since I don't have a vast work experience I don't know how to show this. As I don't have my MA results yet and have some work-permit issues to solve I suppose I can't engage in employment (perhaps I should enquire about this later, as but I wouldn't like to ask too many questions in just one thread). However, I would like to learn from you so that I don't find myself completely clueless after graduation. Also, in my Proz profile there's the possibility of uploading samples of work, is it OK to submit texts translated for academic purposes? Pointing out that they are not professional translations, of course. I don't have a big professional portfolio so I wondered whether this was appropriate or not.

Thanks in advance.


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:03
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Earnest advice Nov 11, 2009

Don't market yourself as a Spanish into English translator (yet). I'm Dutch but I think your English still needs polishing.

Present your MA as your major feature.
Highlight your UK submersion: start with years and mention (all) those stupid jobs in that context.
Present yourself as a published writer - in the third place, clients are looking for a translator - and explain translating is about saying exactly the same in natural, agreeable, flowing, selling Spanish. This is your strongest USP.

Your perfect command of Spanish, your MA in translation and your writing skills are your strong points. Flaunt them.
Your command of English and your work experience are your weak points - also compared with British natives. Don't flaunt them.

Good luck,
Gerard

[Edited at 2009-11-11 23:37 GMT]


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:03
Swedish to English
+ ...
Learn how to separate text into logical paragraphs Nov 11, 2009

My eyes hurt when trying read your posting.

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Alp Berker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:03
Turkish to English
+ ...
Update your Proz Profile Nov 11, 2009

Update your Proz profile, highlight what you have done, regardless of however minor you think it is. Posting work is a good idea. Get some kudoz points also if you want. It will give you more visibility. Be active in the forums also.
I would also recommend using your name for your Proz Profile, it would give more of a personal touch which can be usefull in getting those first jobs. You can highlight your interests in your profile too.


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Niraja Nanjundan  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:33
German to English
Use a translation-related alias Nov 12, 2009

Alp Berker wrote:
I would also recommend using your name for your Proz Profile


I agree that it's better (and more professional) to use your real name. If you want to use an alias, choose one that is somehow translation-related or related to your areas of specialisation. Some people just use their first name and a number, which is also OK.

I would definitely change the "vampirecentre" though. It could really put some clients off.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:03
English to Spanish
+ ...
Image Nov 12, 2009

Change your image. Cut the "vampirecentre" and cut the black "Goth" look. You're not a punk rocker, and you're not out to haunt houses, you are supposed to be a translator.

Plus, you're obviously good-looking. Make that professionally good-looking and you've got a real hit!


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 08:03
Dutch to English
+ ...
As an aside Nov 12, 2009

I'd suggest changing your user name for starters. It would put me off as an outsourcer.

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xxxLatin_Hellas
United States
Local time: 09:03
Italian to English
+ ...
Published Writer in What? Nov 12, 2009

What is the subject of your published writing? If what you have published is of any interest to people with the ability to pay, highlight that as well.

If I am going to pay for a service, I prefer to pay a specialist in what I need, unless I want it done cheaply, but then I risk paying the consequences.

Specialism is not the only route, but it works for many. Perhaps at the beginning you should try to combine real work experience in a specialism (preferably in something related to what you have published) with attempts to find translation customers who actually pay.

Good Luck!


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Trisha F  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:03
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Nov 12, 2009

Thank you for all of your suggestions.

I wrote my post in a rush but my English is far better when I write academic work and/or translate. I think it's a bit harsh to dismiss it by a single post. People often write hastily in fora. I do appreciate the help but I would like to point out that I am new to this forum and didn't know that the writing standards were higher here. I tend to be very careful when I write in a more formal style but I am not particularly meticulous when posting in fora or writing text messages or e-mails, even if it is in my mother tongue. I apologise for my sloppy introduction.

I will change my profile as soon as I can so that it looks more professional. I am not a punk rocker, I know (though I sometimes wish I was). However, I must confess I have been into goth since I was a teenager. Goth remains a very important part of my life in many ways and it is really hard for me to lose the look in a different setting. I do tone it down and am able to adapt but I still struggle to get rid of it entirely: there are always traces of black in my clothing that give me away. I have to work more on the corporate look, I suppose. Perhaps I should get rid of my picture altogether.

What really worries me is that, although my publishing house is important in Spain, the things I write about may put people off as well. I write gothic fiction (yes, mainly about vampires) so... I guess I'm doomed. I am very interested in translating literature in the future but I know it is difficult to work in literary translation if I have little experience.

Now I know that my looks and general lifestyle do not make me very employable. I will try to hide all of that to see if I have the slightest chance to get a job. I cannot give up who I am but I might eventually succeed in dissociating my personal tastes from my professional life. It will be extremely difficult but I'll give it a shot.


[Edited at 2009-11-12 11:57 GMT]


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:03
Dutch to English
+ ...
Welcome Patricia Nov 12, 2009

What you look like or your lifestyle is completely immaterial. Your quality is what counts.

Take on some pro bono jobs to build up your experience and do take on jobs into English. Send out your CV to as many potential customers as you can and see what happens (usually you get a 5% response). Make it interesting and ensure they need to get back to you for further details (then you will have a foot in the door). My brother-in-law has a CV that covers half a page and he gets all the jobs he applies for (OK, he has a PhD in astrophysics).

Be seen and the rest will follow. May take a year or so.


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:03
German to English
+ ...
It's Nothing Personal Nov 12, 2009

Patricia Flores wrote:
think it's a bit harsh to dismiss it by a single post. [...][/quote]

I wouldn't take it personally. The background of the criticism you are receiving in this regard is twofold (and might be unknown to you):

1. You asked for it and even mentioned the quality of your English in your first post;

2. Some may have thought you were considering translating into English, i.e., a language that is not your own. There is a long history of debates on this site about whether it is desirable or even possible to translate professionally into a language that is not your mother tongue. Some say yes, others doubt it; many here believe that it is neither desirable nor possible.

Patricia Flores wrote:
w I know that my looks and general lifestyle do not make me very employable. [...] I cannot give up who I am but I might eventually succeed in dissociating my personal tastes from my professional life. [...][/quote]

I don't think the advice (criticism) you are getting is about you as a person or your looks in private; it is more about the way you present yourself, especially when the presentation is meant to attract clients.

The way you are or how you look is not at all important. That is the nice thing about translating: You could do it in your underwear, if you wanted to. Most of my clients have never met me, they don't know what I look like, and they could care less. What is important is the quality of the final product.

The whole thing about appearance and presentation can, however, be important when you are starting out and trying to gain new clients. Once you have the clients, then it is only the quality of the translation that counts.

Good luck!


[Edited at 2009-11-12 13:38 GMT]


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Trisha F  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:03
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
A bit of a rough start Nov 12, 2009

Thank you Marijke and Derek for your replies. I feel much better now.

I understand that Gerard seriously thought that my English needed some polishing and I realised he was trying to give me good advice but the comment about my post hurting someone's eyes because it was not neatly arranged into paragraphs was not helpful at all. Upon reading the post again I think that it is quite obvious that I neither edited it nor organised it properly but that I am fluent nevertheless. There is also a bad grammar mistake which was the product of haste rather than lack of proficiency, I suppose anyone would easily spot that. I am still pretty sure that my English is good, particularly because many British people often fail to notice that I'm not a native speaker, that doesn't mean that my English can't be improved, as can my French, my German and even my native Spanish.

On the other hand, I read other posts in this forum that do contain serious grammar and spelling mistakes but this fact was not brought to the authors' attention at all. I decided to invest in a Proz.com membership because I am serious about translation and want to learn from people who are knowledgeable about the profession, I never said I was perfect. I felt a bit disappointed at first to be honest. I still think that some comments were harsh and just missing the point and even considered never posting again and just getting a membership refund but realised it would be silly to do that without really giving Proz a try.

I am aware of the debates around translating into languages other than one's mother tongue. It is not something inherent to this forum, I guess; I have heard similar things in university and elsewhere. I would ideally prefer to translate into Spanish but I would consider taking jobs into English, it would depend on the project and my ability to deliver a very good translation.

Sorry if I sound somewhat bitter and thanks again for the replies.


[Edited at 2009-11-12 17:51 GMT]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:03
English to French
+ ...
It's quite easy Nov 12, 2009

Patricia Flores wrote:

I cannot give up who I am but I might eventually succeed in dissociating my personal tastes from my professional life. It will be extremely difficult but I'll give it a shot.

Maybe this has to do with your not having had any jobs in your life that you would consider to be real. Dissociating your private and your public self is quite easy once you consciously make that decision. Hundreds of thousands of people are using this site--would you believe me if I told you you are the only one enamoured with Goth (whatever that means)? Of course not. The same way, I bet foot fetishists, cross-dressers, convicted criminals and other subtypes of the population that are likely to be discriminated against abound here--they just don't publicize these rather private details and so we don't know about them. But this doesn't take away from their ability to translate and be professional.

Freelancing is all about wearing a bunch of different hats, often changing them in a heartbeat: translator, accountant, salesperson, secretary, customer service clerk and subject matter expert are all jobs you will be doing simultaneously throughout your freelance career. Consider that Goth is just another hat, and make sure you remember to take that hat off before you put any of your other hats on. Simple as that.

Maybe it seems difficult for you because you haven't really tried this yet. Once you try, you will see that it's nothing really. In fact, this is a fundamental aspect of working. And it is one of the first things you learn when you start working full time in any trade.

Congrats on changing your ID--you are on the right track already. Just one little hint: by displaying your real name, you are also exposing yourself to ID theft, fraud and the like, not to mention that everything you say (e.g., this forum topic) can be traced back to you. I used to use my real name and, seeing the implications of that, I reverted to something that is very close to my real name but that doesn't give enough clues to people who would like to steal my identity. In your case, Particia F would be just fine. Once you get your identity verified on this site, assuming your logon name is similar to your real name, people will trust you about as much as they trust people who display their real names.

All the best!


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:03
English to French
+ ...
ProZ is not unlike a zoo Nov 12, 2009

Since you are new here, you may not have realized this: users on this site are pretty representative of the general population. There are uneducated people who "can English" and there are people with PhDs. There are some arrogant freaks and then there are some very nice, helpful people. There are people who will use you to make themselves look better and there are people who will reach out to you and help you up to the next level. And then, there are people who mean well but they are just a little too blunt in their communications. I think the comment about inflicting pain to people's eyes was meaning well but was very straightforward and may be interpreted by some (e.g., you) as unconstructive.

I have to tell you that that comment is the kind I regularly leave. My posts get deleted fairly often for this reason. However, I feel that people are missing the point. I don't need to wrap my posts in cotton wool for people to understand them, even though there are people who prefer cotton wool clad posts all the same--but that is their preference, they can choose what they read and what they don't, and I am not responsible for that. It is impossible for me to write my posts in a way that everybody will like them (and I have received very positive private comments from fellow translators about my most vitriolic posts).

The bottom line is:
1. Don't take everything people say on this site (or anywhere else) totally seriously. Some people will know what they are talking about, some will not. Some people genuinely try to help, some will just take you for a ride.
2. Try to take from the conversation what suits you and leave the rest. For the comment about not using paragraphs, that means take the advice on using paragraphs but don't take the criticism personal.
3. Try to figure out people's styles. Some people can come off as very rude while they are only really trying to help (this often seems to be my case).
Patricia wrote:

On the other hand, I read other posts in this forum that do contain serious grammar and spelling mistakes but this fact was not brought to the authors' attention at all.

On the part of some people, we are all used to them writing carelessly, and we can't keep telling them to go back to school every time they open their mouths. That would be harassing after a while and it would be unpleasant for all involved.
Patricia wrote:

Sorry if I sound somewhat bitter and thanks again for the replies.

You do sound a little bitter, but hey! You're a noob! You'll get used to this website soon and you will learn to grow a thick skin before you know it. The forum on this site can be very useful, but you have to remember that it is composed of people, even if you use a keyboard and a screen to communicate. You'll be fine!

[Edited at 2009-11-12 17:24 GMT]


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Trisha F  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:03
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Merci VictoriaG Nov 12, 2009

Thanks for clearing all these things for me VictoriaG. I would still disagree with the comment I mentioned, simply because it didn't answer my question in any way. I do know how to use paragraphs but I assumed that I didn't need to be too squeamish about that in a forum. As a member of other forums I am used to seeing carelessly written posts but I don't make assumptions on people straightaway, mainly because many of those forum users are actually well-educated but don't spend an awful amount of time editing their posts. After all, forum posting is more on the informal side.

I modified my settings again, thank you so much for the advice. "Patricia F" and "PatriciaF" were already taken so I chose "Trisha F" instead.


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