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Getting experience & volunteering
Thread poster: Layla de Chabot

Layla de Chabot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:19
English to French
Apr 7, 2011

Hello,

I am trying to get established as a freelance translator. However, I am finding it very difficult to get jobs as all of them are looking for experienced translators.
So where should I start? I have done some unpaid work for NGOs, but obviously I cannot work for free for ever.
I am confident I can translate well in my field, but I am not certified.
Should I start with the certification then, such as DipTrans?

Any advice will be more than welcome, as I am loosing hope.

[Edited at 2011-04-07 13:03 GMT]


 

guest1234  Identity Verified
Mauritius
Local time: 13:19
French to English
+ ...
Don't work for free Apr 7, 2011

You're an expert in a difficult field, you will have many clients easily. You should employ someone to market your services, or constantly talk about your services to everyone you know. Get translation work from your country, your town, your friends, instead of just the Internet ? Your friends will pay you, because they trust you. Then you get the experience, and clients start flowing to you, by referral.

Your website is beautiful, and I think buying the domain name was a good idea.

I would delete the "?" before your contact name.


 

Layla de Chabot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:19
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your reply Apr 7, 2011

You're right, but I don't know anybody who needs translations. What do you mean by "employ someone to market your services", like a recruitment agency or something?

About the "?", thanks, there's been a bug which replaced all symbols with "?", I must have forgotten this one.


 

Teressa  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:19
English to Spanish
+ ...
Getting Business from Friends? Apr 7, 2011

I don't have any friends who need translations done, either.

I am considering doing some translation work for a non-profit organization so that I will have something to show for experience. You could use your earlier work for NGO's as experience, even if it was unpaid. I'm not sure how you get references or post this on the profile, however. Perhaps someone more experienced will explain this.


 

Caroline Grenache  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:19
English to French
+ ...
Why not? Apr 7, 2011

I think doing volunteer translations for NGOs (for exemple, Translators Without Borders) can be not only rewarding but will also help you gain experience.

I also suggest you start sending out proposals to compagnies you think might need translation services. Get involved in your local Chamber of commerce, it's always a good place to network with other business owners. Create a LinkedIn page and start adding business contacts. Send out your CV to translation agencies.

Don't despair, though. Starting out is difficult but once you start getting a few contracts and gaining experience and confidence, it will become easier.

Good luck!


 

Layla de Chabot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:19
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
To Teressa Apr 7, 2011

Actually, getting feedback on Proz from NGOs is an issue, as they always promise they will leave a WWA and never do !
If someone knows how to deal with this, I am definitely interested.


 

Layla de Chabot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:19
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
To Caroline Apr 7, 2011

TWB actually seek experienced translators too...
I am going to send more CVs, although I did send quite a few already and got no response whatsoever.
Thanks for the idea of LinkedIn, I'll look into this.


 

Meritxell Asensio  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:19
English to Spanish
+ ...
internship Apr 7, 2011

have you considered doing some intership? it's a way to gain experience if you can afford "no pay at all" or a small pay
some times they only cover lunch and travel expenses ... but it's a way to start and get feedback from other professionals!!


 

Lennart Luhtaru  Identity Verified
United States
Member
English to Estonian
+ ...
If you want to translate for free... Apr 7, 2011

...then send your CV-s to some agencies and do their free translation tests and get some partners who can forward some projects to you.

I don't see any point in translating for NGOs as you already have translation samples and translating for them won't make you more visible for paying clients. You can always do freebies, if you support the cause, but you won't get paying clients this way.

You can build up needed volume from jobs from agencies and then look for your direct end clients in your areas. As end clients for your expertize areas want often multiple language pairs from one supplier, then I guess, you'd get more work from agencies anyways.

It will take quite a lot of work to get started (as with any business), but keep your head up high and don't give up and everything will comeicon_smile.gif

Good luck!


 

guest1234  Identity Verified
Mauritius
Local time: 13:19
French to English
+ ...
people Apr 7, 2011

Layla de Chabot wrote:

You're right, but I don't know anybody who needs translations. What do you mean by "employ someone to market your services", like a recruitment agency or something?


All companies need translations. The people you know might not need a translation for themselves, but for their boss or their colleagues ?

Do they know that you are a translator now ? Maybe not. They think you are still an engineer and wouldn't think of giving you a translation, or presenting you as a translator to their boss.

Your friends market your services for free, because they want to help you as a friend. No agency needed.

When someone works for free in hope of future profit, this person is being exploited. You don't know how super rich some people are. They can give their time for good causes. Why not let these rich people work for free instead of us?


 

Layla de Chabot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:19
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Lennart and Avinash Apr 7, 2011

Yes, working for free does not feel right after some time.
I am going to send more CVs to agencies and see if I can advertise my business to ex-collegues and such.

Thanks for your advice;


 

Alexandra Lindqvist
Local time: 12:19
English to Swedish
+ ...
Internships Apr 7, 2011

Meritxell Asensio wrote:

have you considered doing some intership? it's a way to gain experience if you can afford "no pay at all" or a small pay
some times they only cover lunch and travel expenses ... but it's a way to start and get feedback from other professionals!!


I agree with this an internship is a valuable experience. Perhaps you could also contact agencies with this approach. The EU has both payed and unpayed inernships even if it might not be in your areas of experties perhaps it could be worth it.


 

Christina Paiva  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 06:19
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Why not FR>EN? Apr 8, 2011

My suggestions:

Your profile:

1. tagline: Ex-engineer - it's negative.. and you ARE an engineer.
2. Highlight your scientific background.
3. Your English is - and must be very good - offer FR > EN translations as well. Highlight your upbringing in Britain.

English is Science lingua franca - and I'm sure you'll get paid jobs with your scientific background. You can offer your services for your ex-colleagues - but remember: there are grad students who need your expertise [in environmental engineering and related fields] to proofread their thesis or their article to be submitted to international journals ...

This might be useful:
Free webinar: "Meeting clients at ProZ.com"
Friday, 8 April, 13:00 GMT

http://www.proz.com/translator-training/course/4636


 

Layla de Chabot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:19
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
I only translate into my mother tongue Apr 8, 2011

I know some people do translate into other languages, but I don't think the quality of the translation into English (in my case) is good enough.
Maybe you're right about the "ex", I'm not sure though. I mean, I'm working as a freelance translator now, not as an engineer anymore.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:19
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
See yourself from the client's viewpoint Apr 8, 2011

Layla de Chabot wrote:
I know some people do translate into other languages, but I don't think the quality of the translation into English (in my case) is good enough.

Regardless of your opinion on the age-old question of translating out of your native language, if you aren't confident of the quality then there's nothing more to say.

Maybe you're right about the "ex", I'm not sure though. I mean, I'm working as a freelance translator now, not as an engineer anymore.

I agree with both Christina and you - neither engineer nor ex-engineer seem perfect, so why accept either? Keep thinking until you find a tagline that IS perfect for you.


It looks to me as though you have every chance of succeeding in this business and you may just need to be patient. However, there are a few things I can see that might be causing problems:

1. Sure, you speak two languages, but can you avoid all the pitfalls that a translator encounters? You have provided translation samples and your success rate in KudoZ answers is very high, but perhaps some sort of translating qualification will be necessary to tempt the clients to choose you for their translations in this very common language pair.

2. I wonder whether having your work checked by another translator isn't actually giving the wrong impression, particularly having regard to the very low rates you advertise - you seem to place very little value on your work, assuming you are paying for proofreading services, and if you don't value it then why should the client?

3. In some places you call yourself a "science translator" (which seems logical) but in others you put the most emphasis on "general translations". I understand you might be willing to accept general translations (at least in the early days), but beware of clouding the waters and diluting the message.


 
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