Getting started/FR>ENG/Finding Clients/ DELF
Thread poster: xxxjenbikkal
xxxjenbikkal

Local time: 07:21
French to English
+ ...
Dec 30, 2010

Hi everyone!

I am here because I recently decided to change careers and am looking for feedback from all of you experienced translators! I worked in marketing/advertising for 10 years and would love to be able to specialize my translations in these fields. I have completed some translation work in the past and also some proof-reading. I would primarily work FR>ENG.

Here my plan:

I plan on getting certified at GA state (which is accredited by ATA), joining the different translation associations and maybe even taking the DELF.

1) Getting my certification from GA state would unfortunately take over two years; during that time I was hoping to start building my connections, networking and hopefully even getting my first clients. How would you suggest going about finding clients with very little experience and no certificate (yet)? How did you find clients when you started off? Where does one start gaining experience? I feel as though it's a chicken and egg situation ...

2) Do you think the DELF exam is worth passing? I do have a French baccalaureate so should I then do the DELF pro? Which level; A2, B1 ...?

3) Is it worth paying the membership on Pro-Z? I see that many jobs are only available to members.

4) Is the market saturated with FR>Eng translators?

5) And finally, as a beginner I would love to be able to have someone proof-read my work, and also someone I could learn from, a mentor of sorts. Would anyone be interested in taking me under their wing? I'd offer a fee for proof-reading.

Pro-Z seems like a great place to start! I'm very excited about my new endeavor.

I will be so grateful for any suggestions, advice and ideas that you think may be helpful.

Happy holidays to all and a delightful New Year!

All the best,
-(newby) Jen

[Edited at 2010-12-30 20:09 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-12-30 20:11 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-12-30 20:26 GMT]


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 13:21
Spanish to English
+ ...
DELF levels Dec 30, 2010

Only commenting on this point, Jennifer....

The levels you mention fro DELF are those established by the Common European Framework, and not until you are around the C1 level are you considered capable of working through that language, so I cannot think that anyone should be thinking about working in our profession until they are right at the top of the C2 band....

Can't find the can do statements on general performance right now, but here at least are the can do statements within a work context, which will show you how far below the level are levels A2 and B1: http://www.truonglam.com/CESOLWEB/files_cesolweb/CAN_DO_STATEMENTS.pdf

Sorry, editing because I sent this in without signing off! Very best wishes for 2011 and your new career direction!

Cheers

Noni

[Edited at 2010-12-30 22:59 GMT]


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cranium
French to English
+ ...
With your extensive work experience Dec 31, 2010

if you are fluent in French, you do not necessarily need additional academic qualifications. It is all about how you market yourself. Remember that translators need expert writing skills in their *target* language, after all. One very important factor not to underestimate is an extended period of immersion in a French-speaking country (at least one year). It is absolutely crucial to understand the subtleties and cultural references that pop up in translations. I.e. knowing your French grammar inside out is a start, but understanding the metalinguistic aspects takes time. That is very important in marketing, especially.
What about offering proofreading or editing skills to agencies? I learned a lot that way during my internship. You pick up terminology almost by osmosis, and get to see how experienced translators handle difficult phraseology.
Bon courage! SB


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:21
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
My 2 cent(imes)s' worth Dec 31, 2010

Hi Jen,

Here are my comments on your questions:

1) Where does one start gaining experience?
NGOs may accept you - they usually ask for a test so they can asses quality. They don't pay but the work is interesting and worthwhile. You don't often get feedback, though (apart from repeat requests). Get a business card prepared and pass it round to family, friends and local businesses. Make it clear that you aren't yet qualified and charge a reasonably low rate but not a ridiculously-low, "hobby" rate.

2) Do you think the DELF exam is worth passing?
Probably. But you clearly don't consider yourself to have a native-equivalent level in French so my advice would be to steer clear of translating into it. I know companies are quite happy to use their staff to do this (I teach some of them in my pre-intermediate English classes!) but a professional translator needs to be 100% sure of a natural-sounding text.

3) Is it worth paying the membership on Pro-Z? I see that many jobs are only available to members.
Definitely, particularly in a common pair where you need to stand out above the crowd. As well as joining, follow the instructions for improving your visibility in "my directory ranking"

4) Is the market saturated with FR>Eng translators?
Well, you'll be in direct competition with me and I'm doing OK so far!

5) And finally, as a beginner I would love to be able to have someone proof-read my work, and also someone I could learn from, a mentor of sorts. Would anyone be interested in taking me under their wing? I'd offer a fee for proof-reading.
There's a part of the site for that (I think it's members only). Otherwise, as you're willing to pay you can use the directory to contact others. Of course, the best way to contact others is to attend powwows, training courses or conferences organised by ProZ or translator associations.

Good luck and bonne année.

Sheila


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xxxjenbikkal

Local time: 07:21
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Dec 31, 2010

Thanks SBlack, actually I should probably have specified that I lived in France for an extended period of time (12 years) during which I completed middle-school, high-school and most of my college education. So hopefully I am close to native!
Thanks for the advice. I will certainly look into how to market myself. Wouldn't having a certificate from an accredited university help in marketing myself though?

Thank you Sheila! I actually am a near native speaker of French ...would you still think a DELF would maybe set me apart? I will start contacting NGO's. In the meantime i found the mentoring section on here and already posted a request. This website is great!

Thank you all again so much for your feedback!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:21
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Certificates never hinder Dec 31, 2010

jenbikkal wrote:

Wouldn't having a certificate from an accredited university help in marketing myself though?


I actually am a near native speaker of French ...would you still think a DELF would maybe set me apart?


I would say that some sort of translation course is a must, even if it's only a very basic one. Not so much for the clients (I've never had anyone query my certificate, which is quite basic) but for you to learn how to tackle things that don't call for a literal translation.

The DELF wouldn't hurt either, although as you're a near-native speaker you'll need to go straight for the top ones. I did four levels years ago before settling here and they were really basic.

In the main, clients are more interested in experience (which is a Catch22, as you said), samples of your work, which don't have to be from income-generating translations, and your marketing presentation, which you may call a CV but which needs to be rather different from a salaried job-seeker's CV.


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cranium
French to English
+ ...
I thought you meant the international baccalaureate Dec 31, 2010

jenbikkal wrote:
actually I should probably have specified that I lived in France for an extended period of time (12 years)

Then you have two strong selling points: you are a highly experienced true bilingual.
You got a lot of good advice from everyone in this thread - the only point I would disagree on is the idea of beginner's rates. Take on jobs you know you can do spot on (it is normal practice to peruse a document before issuing a quote) and charge your rates like the best of them.
If further studies are important to you, have you considered ESIT? The special feature of that school is that it trains specialists from other fields. For example, when I was there, there were translation students with backgrounds in chemistry, history or law. Plus it charges French public university tuition fees. That could be a definite advantage. Best, SB


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Sarah Puchner  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:21
French to English
See the power point in the link Dec 31, 2010

Hi Jen,
I am also just starting out, I am one semester away from finishing my Graduate Certificate (French to English) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. One of the reasons I enrolled in the course is that having two years of post-graduate study in translation mean I am qualified to sit the ATA Certification exam.

Take a look at this:
http://tandibusiness.blogspot.com/2008/01/breaking-into-industry-how-to-gain.html

The slides tell you "how to gain experience when employers will not give you experience without previous experience." I am sure you will find some useful advice there.

Did you join the ATA and/or your local chapter yet? One of the benefits is being able to sign up for listservs - the Business Practices email list is very helpful and you can get answers to specific questions from experienced ATA members.

For the business side of being a freelance translator in the US, I recommend "How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator" by Corinne McKay. http://translatewrite.com/?page_id=32

Good luck!

Sarah


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xxxjenbikkal

Local time: 07:21
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Jan 2, 2011

Thanks SBlack! I appreciate your advice re: rates. I'll be sure to think of that moving forward.

Sarah, thanks for the powerpoint presentation. That really looks like it contains a lot of information. I can't wait to peel through it!! I already have that book, so I'm glad that it is recommended reading! Best of luck to you too!!


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