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Getting Started: Will I ever be given a chance?
Thread poster: Tania Lafontaine

Tania Lafontaine  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:36
Member (2011)
English to French
Sep 16, 2011

Hi,

I am on Proz for about a month now. I know it isn't much, but I have been applying for jobs a lot (English to French translation) and didn't get much response.

I have a multidisciplinary BA in traslation + English and French language and literature, I am almost finished writing my MA thesis in a bilingual program that focuses both on literature and translation, I have about 10 years of experience, although not professional, but more pro bono, artistic, literary translations, I made myself a website, a nice cv, got registered, etc. I was really optimistic about all this...

Now I am only getting negative response one after another because:

a) I have not "real" professional experience;
b) I have no references;
C) and I don't own Trados.

I am getting really pessimistic and I need some advice or success stories.

Thank you all,

Tania


 

Emma Ratcliffe  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 07:36
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Getting started Sep 16, 2011

I think it happens to all of us in our early stages.
Don't get desperate. At any time when you least expect it because of your CV, profile and studies you will get an opportunity to work and from there it will be a boom to your spirit which will make you feel good and with sufficient energy to keep on.

One advise, you don't specify the field you prefer to work in, it is important to focus in this area and also have a second choice and work from this, it might help to me very accurate in which areas you wish to work, and the ones you wouldn't touch.

Don't despair, and very very good luck in enduring a wonderful career.
Emma


 

Tania Lafontaine  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:36
Member (2011)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Emma Sep 16, 2011

Thank you Emma for your advice and good words!icon_smile.gif

 

vfouet  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:36
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
Be patient, your time will come Sep 16, 2011

I believe we all went through this stage when we first start.
It took me about 6 months to really get some kind of a "work flow".

I agree with Emma, you should answer only when you feel that the job corresponds to your profile, and you should choose 2 or 3 fields where you know you can make a good work if you're given the opportunity.

once your first clients will see your work and be happy about it, then you may have the opportunity to work again with them in the future, and they will be become your reference to get other jobs.

What i also did when I first started was getting in touch with agencies whose fields corresponded to mine. Some of them gave ne the opportunity to pass a translation test and I am still working for a couple of them 7 years later.

Don't dispair. Be patient. Work hard and I'm sure you'll get a chance too.


 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:36
Member (2008)
French to English
Huge potential Sep 16, 2011

Don't give up - one month is not enough time. It will take you about six months to get established if you keep at it. I see you are in Sherbrooke QC - you are sitting in the middle of the biggest market in the world for English to French translation.

I wouldn't suggest going by the proz.com job boards. Jobs are highly competitive there and here in Quebec you can do much better. I keep busy translating French to English in Quebec and I am told there is 10 times the demand for French to English (at a much higher price than you will see on the proz.com or other job boards).

You might do better contacting other translators listed on the OTTIAQ website directly. Many of them own or work for Quebec translation agencies and have more work than they can handle themselves. Some will quite likely be willing to try you on something small when they are too busy to meet a deadline themselves.

You can also use the proz.com agency list to find agencies to contact directly - many will put you on their list and when their other translators are too busy will try you out. Then if you do a good job for them they will move you into their list of core providers.

Don't worry about Trados - I see you use WF Classic which will do you well for a good while.

You say you have done a number of translations - how about listing them generically on your CV? You could say what their subject field was, what type of end user it was for (even if you weren't paid). Even if you think you haven't translated "professionally", if you have done a number of translations for others then you have a portfolio.

Good luck.


 

Tania Lafontaine  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:36
Member (2011)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Sep 16, 2011

Very good advices. I will look on the Ottiaq website and also work on my profile.

Thank you!


 

Fiona Kirton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
Give it more time Sep 16, 2011

First of all, I would echo what others have said - one month is not enough time. Getting established can take a VERY long time.

In terms of concrete advice, you say you have about 10 years experience, but you don't mention any of that on your website. Both your website and your proz profile give the impression that you don't have any experience at all, so why not list some of the projects you've worked on? You don't have to make it explicit that your experience is mostly in pro bono work. Also, you say you don't have any references, but surely the people you've worked for before can give you a reference, even if the jobs were pro bono?

As others have said, it's probably a good idea to narrow down the specialist subjects listed on your website. Clients want to feel confident that you have some level of expertise in the field they're offering work in and, while I don't want to suggest that you're not a polymath genius with expertise in the humanities, pretty much every field of science, law, public relations, technology, etc., most people aren't ;P. That doesn't mean you have to be super-specific. You could offer translations in broad fields such as the arts, literature and the humanities, for example.

Anyway, I hope that's been of help. I know how discouraging it can be when it seems nobody wants to give you a chance.

Good luck!


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:36
Member (2008)
Italian to English
more time Sep 16, 2011

it is generally agreed that starting any new business and getting it on its feet takes an average of about 3 years. So settle down for the long haul !

 

RominaZ  Identity Verified
Argentina
English to Spanish
+ ...
Site guidance and other strategies to be given during virtual conference week Sep 16, 2011

Hello Tania,

Welcome! In addition to the advice of colleagues here, let me take the opportunity to mention that one of the upcoming virtual events in celebration of International Translation Day is a "site guidance day", where you will be able to learn more about strategies for using ProZ.com to get started or advance your translation business. You can learn more about this event in this podcast.

You may also be interested in sessions held on the other conference dates too (there are 5 days of virtual events total). You can see more about these events here: http://www.proz.com/virtual-conferences/group/2

See you at the event!

Romina


 

Paula Hernández
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:36
English to Spanish
+ ...
You coul also try... Sep 16, 2011

May be you could also try the local agencies. Look for agencies in your town, bring them your CV and do interviews. I believe it is also very good to work in-house for around a year, you get tons of experience and learn to use different software! After that it gets somewhat easier to find freelance jobs.

Good luck!


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:36
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Have you checked... Sep 16, 2011

Have you checked OTTIAQ's admission requirements?

You might want to check whether you would be eligible to become a member of the Ordre and eventually seek certification in Canada. I think that this could be quite a leap forward in the ranks of colleagues/competitors in your language pair.


 

Luximar Arenas Petty  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:36
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sure, you will. Sep 16, 2011

Dear Tania,

You are doing well, don’t worry. I know that’s easy to say, but it happens to most of us in this career.

You became a Proz member too soon in my opinion, but you can take advantage of that fact now. Complete your profile, add some sample translations, some pro bono projects you have worked on, and take some webinars that are offered here for free like Meeting Clients at Proz, Marketing, and Communicating your linguistic talent and business services, and some others that I can’t find right now.

Be aware of what is offered on the Proz website, but don’t rely completely on Proz. It’s a plus to build a good profile here so that good agencies can find you, but you need to advertise yourself outside of Proz. Your website is astonishing and you have what is necessary for being a translator. You just need to have confidence in yourself and a bit of patience. Don’t be discouraged by anyone and keep doing the good job.

I have to say that I have been here almost a year and I’m still just getting started. So it takes a while, but I am not discouraged. Some times are harder than others but I say to myself that I will continue. Meanwhile, I am preparing myself in the pair that I work with, and working on being up-to-date in my fields of expertise.

Don’t give up. You will be fine.

Best wishes,

Luximar


 

matt robinson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:36
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
Work hard now! Sep 16, 2011

I don't mean translating. Find lists of agencies (yellow pages, ProZ, net, anything) and send them a good cover email and CV. You could phone them a few days later and try to speak in person. Do the same for businesses in your area and beyond where you think they might be able to use your services. Tailor your letter and CV accordingly. It doesn't matter if any of these give you work now, you are building for the future. At the moment there are thousands of PMs trying to find translators in your pair. They turn to their trusted partners first, as might be expected, but if that fails they have to look elsewhere. They could contact you, but if they haven't heard of you then you can't expect that email or phone call to come.

Have sample translations ready, and offer do a short translation as proof of your abilities.

Be active on ProZ. It might not bring in the work but it may make you feel better!

Good luck.

P.S. Then I reread post. The majority of translation work is not literary work, so while this may be your cherry on the cake you should perhaps focus on another area of translation when you contact people.

[Edited at 2011-09-16 18:14 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:36
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
More suggestions Sep 16, 2011

matt robinson wrote:
You could phone them a few days later and try to speak in person. Do the same for businesses in your area and beyond where you think they might be able to use your services. Tailor your letter and CV accordingly.

Exactly. Although agencies tend to be busy, in the case of small-to-medium agencies there are high chances that you end up talking to a decision maker in the agency and that they remember your name.

If you start on the right foot with such an agency and the company is within your geographical reach, you could even propose a very quick visit, just making use of some other thing you have to do in the area. If they accept, you might want to bring some small but tasty breakfast or snack for the team. Maybe something good made by an acquaintance, a place you go to often, or an establishment around your home. If they like your CV, your samples, and the goodies, you will be surely remembered when they have a need.

I know these are tricks that hardly fit in today's impersonal, electronic business relations, but they always worked well for me.


 

Jean-Pierre Artigau (X)
Canada
Local time: 08:36
English to French
+ ...
Other discussion Sep 16, 2011

You might be interested to see this discussion

http://www.proz.com/forum/professional_development/193663-where_to_begin_in_this_field_advice_please.html

and probably many others on the same subject on Proz.com, also in French.

Jean-Pierre


 
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