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I got no experience at all
Thread poster: xxxSamuelV

xxxSamuelV
Local time: 03:30
English to Dutch
Apr 12, 2011

Hey there, my name is Sam and I'm new to proz.com. I've had a lot of fun reading around on these forums, but there's one question I'm dying to ask..

What to do when I don't got any experience at all?

I believe I would make a good translator. My dutch grammar and spelling is of a high level and I often get complicated on my writing style. My English skills are on a lower level than my Dutch, but I can read, understand and translate scientific articles on my field of expertize with ease.

But.. what does this mean without diplomas? without experience in translating nor in other fields of employment?

I really do believe I'm qualified to translate, not some new EU resolution, but I could definitely translate a software manual. How can I show this to others though?

I'm following a bachelor study in Business administration..
but I don't got a diploma yet
My wife and I only speak English to each other..
but she's not a native speaker either
I've lived with a family in the united states..
but only for a few weeks
I've went to England a couple of times..
but only for shorter amount of times
I passed the Cambridge CAE exam..
but that isn't worth that much as translator I suppose
I've been paid to proof-read 3 Dutch bachelor theses..
but what can I do with that?

Well thanks for still reading if you reached this Does anyone have some advice on how to market myself? I mean from what I'm reading it annoys serious translators when kids like me come around looking to translate for 3-5 cent per word. But isn't there a category of companies that can't afford a professional, 20 years of experience translator? That just want someone who writes a good article, which might be worth an A- instead of an A?

[Edited at 2011-04-12 19:02 GMT]


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ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 04:30
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
Education & Time Apr 12, 2011

Try to market your schooling and your education real well. After all, that is basically all you have got. When you make a CV/resume, for example, place a large emphasis on your education. Also, do not worry. Time will always be on your side. It is up to you to make the best of it.

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:30
English to German
+ ...
Why would you do that? Apr 13, 2011

SamuelV wrote:

kids like me come around looking to translate for 3-5 cent per word.



Has anyone painted your house or fixed your car for 25 Euro recently?
What's the point of ruining prices?

Whatever qualifications/half-qualifications/sort-of-qualifications you have - please respect this profession in terms of what years at the university are worth, or work at a car wash.


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Ashley Wans  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:30
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes. Apr 13, 2011

SamuelV wrote:

I mean from what I'm reading it annoys serious translators when kids like me come around looking to translate for 3-5 cent per word. But isn't there a category of companies that can't afford a professional, 20 years of experience translator? That just want someone who writes a good article, which might be worth an A- instead of an A?

[Edited at 2011-04-12 19:02 GMT]


Yes, there are agencies that are price-oriented instead of quality oriented. I did a job for one of them. The problem is not only that they don't pay you much and that you are not helping wages in the industry overall, it's that the price-oriented agencies are not great to work with, either (at least in my admittedly limited experience). They sent me files that were weirdly formatted, weren't clear about they wanted, were slow to respond to phone calls and emails, paid later than initially stated... I won't be doing that again.

Agencies and direct clients willing to pay more for better quality are simply better quality clients.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:30
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Cart before the horse? Apr 13, 2011

You don't give your age, Sam, but I'm assuming you're still young.

What I don't understand is why you are so desperate to start work when you don't as yet have any qualifications. Yes, it's difficult to get started - everyone finds that - but surely you don't have to worry about that for a while, do you? If money during studying is the problem then you would probably do better getting a salaried temporary job (eg in a shop where you can speak both languages) to bring in some cash.

Have you thought of doing an MA in translation after your degree? What makes you think you have the skills to translate, anyway? I've lived in the Netherlands and everyone there seems to be fluent in English, but I'm sure they can't all translate.

Have you thought of adding another source language to give you another market for your translation work? After all, you will be a very small fish in the EN-NL pair.

Have you thought about doing a course in English, Dutch or both in an area that you see as a possible specialisation? You'll see time and time again in ProZ that you need to specialise, especially if you work in the mass-market pairs.

Have you thought about spending a significant amount of time in an English-speaking country to polish your source language skills? I'm sure your English comprehension is fine as a source language, but bear in mind that much of your client contact will be in English so your production skills need to be reasonably polished.

Have you thought about publishing articles in your native language? Your ability to write in Dutch is probably the easiest thing to prove to potential clients at the moment. If you get known for your articles in an area that interests you (maybe a hobby), then that will be worth putting on your CV. BTW, your proofreading experience is valuable for your CV.

I think you need to see a career in translation as a longer-term goal - not just in terms of getting a few pages to translate. And offering cut-price, poor quality translations today is not going to help your chances of making it your career in the long term.

I'm sure you WILL make it, and I hope you'll stay around on ProZ and contribute actively in KudoZ and the forums.

Sheila


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xxxSamuelV
Local time: 03:30
English to Dutch
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all for your reactions! Apr 13, 2011

@Atil
Do you suggest me to do this once I've finished my studies, or do you believe my current education is already something I could market?

@Nicole
You are right, but I believe risk should be compensated with reward. Using an unexperienced translator gives a customer a lot of risk. When you hire someones less qualified you're risking to waste your time and maybe even money. These costs should be compensated in a lower price. Even if my product would be equal to yours, my work is worth less because I can't actually prove it.

@Ashley
Thank you for pointing that out, I assumed it would be the other way around.

@Sheila
What a wonderful post! I would like to tell you some more about my motivation.

I'm currently living in a country where I'm not allowed to work, unless I work for myself. My study won't cost me any time at all, for at least the next few months. So this seems like a good option to me, to use my time efficiently.

Why do I believe I can translate? It's a really good question to ask, especially in my language pair. I could mention compliments, experiences and such.. but I think it's mostly the feeling inside of me that I can feel the meaning of an English sentence really well, and I can find the exact words to transfer this meaning to a Dutch sentence. I believe that as a translator that is most essential. I know that my English writing definitely needs polishing, but that's part of the reason why I'd like to do this.

Publishing articles in Dutch sounds really interesting to me, thanks for that idea. Do you suggest translating other people's articles from English, or just writing them myself?

At the moment I got about 5 months of free time, and I would like to use them to become a part-time translator. It would be nice if I would make some money this way, but my main objective is to learn. Sadly enough I don't got a lot more to offer than time, since I can't really spend a lot of money if I don't make any.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:30
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Work possibilities Apr 13, 2011

SamuelV wrote:
I'm currently living in a country where I'm not allowed to work, unless I work for myself.


That's a real shame and somewhat surprising - I suppose it means you originate from one of the former Dutch colonies. I know all EU citizens have the right to work during studies in other member countries and I believe that's also the case for non-EU students in Belgium who have already completed some studies there (you simply can't arrive in the spring, say you're going to start studying in Sept, then start work - because they won't believe you.)

It's also hard to believe you could work legally for yourself if you can't be employed. You'll certainly find it hard dealing with businesses (the main clients for freelance translators) if you can't issue them with a formal invoice showing all the required information.

Your ideal job would be as some sort of administrative assistant who could do some translation work and/or proofreading.

Could you perhaps arrange a work placement through the college? I don't know if it would pay, but it might be the best way to get experience.

Publishing articles in Dutch sounds really interesting to me, thanks for that idea. Do you suggest translating other people's articles from English, or just writing them myself?


I was thinking of you writing them in Dutch but if it's a multilingual environment you could offer to translate other people's English articles into Dutch, though I doubt they would pay you.


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xxxSamuelV
Local time: 03:30
English to Dutch
TOPIC STARTER
So.. Apr 13, 2011

Ah actually I am from the Netherlands, not one of the former colonies. I'm still studying in the Netherlands, but I had to move to Belgium for personal reason. I don't mind sharing them in PM, but rather not on a forum in public.

At the moment I'm signing myself into Belgium, but before my registration is completed it will be very difficult to find a job. Several companies explained to me that it's not illegal for me to work, since I'm a EU citizen, but that it's an administrative hell for them to hire me. For as far as I've understood from the authorities, it wouldn't be a problem to start as a freelancers at all (Not even with the VAT and such).

Also, it's important to know I'm not here for my study. Finishing my study is merely a matter of waiting for my final exams and passing them.

Reading between the lines, you believe I should first worry about competence, and that the process to competence will give me material to market myself with?


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:30
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
The dreadful web of EU red tape Apr 14, 2011

SamuelV wrote:
Several companies explained to me that it's not illegal for me to work, since I'm a EU citizen, but that it's an administrative hell for them to hire me.


Yet another EU citizen effectively denied what are supposed to be our rights!

For as far as I've understood from the authorities, it wouldn't be a problem to start as a freelancers at all (Not even with the VAT and such).


Well, if there's no other way to earn money then you have nothing to lose! Why not fill in your profile here at ProZ, get yourself some recognition by giving help in the KudoZ question area, add a couple of sample translations to your profile (how about doing some translations in Wikipedia?), then use your profile as a "business card" for applying for all sorts of jobs here and elsewhere. You've got nothing to lose, although you may well find there isn't much gain either.

Reading between the lines, you believe I should first worry about competence, and that the process to competence will give me material to market myself with?


Yes, I think this is the best way to go. You really mustn't think that translating is just something you "pick up on the fly". It's possible to get established without specific translation qualifications if you come into the business later in life with all sorts of other experience and skills, but for a young person starting out there really is no substitute for studies.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 03:30
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Tidy up your English, or keep to your native language Apr 15, 2011

This is meant as a friendly warning. I am full of admiration for Danish colleagues (because those are the ones I know best) and in principle anyone who writes really good English as a second language, and really masters the technical terminology or the idioms and register of the text they are translating. There are people out there who can.

However, English speakers are often picky, and native speakers from one side of the world sometimes dislike expressions that are perfectly acceptable on the other.

So decide on which 'flavour' of English you are going to use, and be as consistent as you can.
'I don't got a diploma yet' grates on the ears of Brits for a start. I would say haven't got, and probably write have not got.

Others would write do not have.

I've went will not do on either side of the pond!

Be careful with those contractions. They are fine in an informal context like this, but only just, I would say. As an ex-pat old enough to be a grandmother, I have to watch it - the language has changed. Others pepper their texts with contractions, but my English teacher thougt it looked untidy, and said anyone reading aloud could always say the contractions as they saw fit. On the whole she was very wise, but that was way back in the 60s!

Go to an English-speaking area whenever you can, but listen to TV and really listen to the language, not just the story. Try to sound and write like the newscasters, not necessarily the characters of action films.
I believe Dutch TV, like Scandinavian TV, subtitles instead of dubbing foreign programmes, which is great for studying the language, but get access to English-speaking satellite programmes. BBC or CNN, Discovery or National Geographic... Whatever interests you and is affordable. Distinguish between the different accents and language variants. English is not just English.

READ, read, read, but if you use the Internet, be critical. 'Everybody can English real good' these days, but I am sure you you know by now what I mean. Study different types of texts - government reports, official websites, and the sections intended for professional groups (lawyers, finance, techhnical...) as well as the general public.

Make sure your Dutch is absolutely faultless, and don't sell yourself cheap.

A good translation is worth the same to the client, no matter who wrote it. In the freelance world every job is in principle a one-off, and the way to earn more is by working more efifciently (because now you are familiar with the subject) or having regular clients, so that you spend less time marketing and looking for them, and more time earning rates, i.e. translating.

Actually raising your rates is difficult, so don't start too low!

Get that diploma, and best of luck.



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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:30
English to German
+ ...
Not only the British ears Apr 15, 2011

Christine Andersen wrote:
'I don't got a diploma yet' grates on the ears of Brits for a start. I would say haven't got, and probably write have not got.




Others would write do not have.


This is correct American English.

American Ears hurt just the same, and the colloquial language used in movies is far from being 'standard'.


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Susanna Garcia  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:30
Italian to English
+ ...
Not only the British ears Apr 15, 2011

Ear Ear

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:30
English to German
+ ...
:-) Slightly off topic Apr 15, 2011

Susanna Garcia wrote:

Ear Ear



Whenever I read odd remarks about American English, especially in the KudoZ forum, I can't help but realize that a lot of the candidates apparently gain their knowledge about AE chiefly from Gangsta-movies and pop songs.


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Lancashireman  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:30
German to English
Still off topic Apr 15, 2011

Stone the flippin' crows, Madam America
Where do you lot get your impressions of BE from? Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins?
Cor blimey
AJS


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:30
English to German
+ ...
Last post off topic Apr 16, 2011

Andrew Swift wrote:

Stone the flippin' crows, Madam America
Where do you lot get your impressions of BE from? Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins?
Cor blimey
AJS


10 years of British English at a German school (grade 4 - 13) like all the other German kids, perhaps?



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