English, Spanish > Russian tranlator looking for career opportunities in Europe/US - advice needed
Thread poster: vadimk
vadimk  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:32
Russian to English
+ ...
May 29, 2012

I've been working as a translator in Russia for almost 2 years now (combining freelance and full-time job) and I'm looking for future career opportunities in Europe or USA. I have a degree in IT, 1 year of sowtware engineering experience, and 80% of my translations are IT-related.

My main advantages, as I see them:
-ability to learn, and learn fast (it took me a year to learn Spanish from zero level to DELE C1). I don't have much experience or formal education in interpreting, but I'd love to try if it is necessary.
-IT skills (writing ASP.NET webpage or command line script does not scare me, as I have experience in it)

Main disadvantages:
-Last 6 months I've been translating from Russian into English (with proofreading by a native speaker), I see clearly how my English has improved but still it is worse that the one of any Russian native who's lived in English-speaking country for several years.
-As far as I see now, Russian translation market outside Russia is not large, and multinational companies would always look for a professional in a particular area with at least intermediate English instead of a professional + a translator.
-Lack of permission to work in USA or Europe, and there already are lots of translators who work with Russian and already have all the necessary permits.

My opportunities (as far as I see them)
-Getting a European Master's Degree in languages, but considering current economical situation in Spain, it is highly likely that I'd have to learn another language.
-Right now the University I work at offers a Master's Degree in International Relations (no Master's Degree in languages is available, unfortunately), $6000 fee includes 2 semesters in USA with further internship in a U.S. company, is it a good way to continue my career or it would be sort of irrelevant?

Any advice would be welcome.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:32
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I can't help with most of your questions, but... May 29, 2012

vadimk wrote:
English has improved but still it is worse that the one of any Russian native who's lived in English-speaking country for several years.
-multinational companies would always look for a professional in a particular area with at least intermediate English instead of a professional + a translator.


Yes, I can imagine that your English is not as proficient as it would be after a few years living in an English-speaking country. However, I'm not convinced it would be good enough even then. Maybe after very many years, but not "several". What very many people forget is that speaking a language totally fluently does not mean you can translate into it without needing a proofreader. Out of it, OK, but not into it.

I remember the first translations I ever did, about 15 years ago, were for a French-speaking Belgain woman who I supposed to be bilingual - she certainly sounded it. Then I saw her English texts and frankly they were embarrassing in places.

I understand there may be a need for Russians to translate out of Russian as there are relatively few English native with a good understanding of Russian (whereas the EN>FR pair is always best left to French natives), but if you have a long-term relationship with an English proofreader they should be able to do the job more and more quickly over time, and therefore more cheaply.

Sheila


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Miguel Carmona  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:32
English to Spanish
Stick to what you know best: English, Spanish > Russian May 29, 2012

For your future professional plans, why don't you simply stick to what you are naturally best at, as you indicate yourself in your post's heading (English, Spanish > Russian)?

As far as I know, most professional translators translate from their 2nd and 3rd (and so on) languages into their mother language.

The effort is much less, the quality much higher, and your clients will appreciate the quality of your work.

Best of luck in your professional endeavours!

====================

EDIT: I read your post a second time, and now I realize that probably my comment might be kind of irrelevant. Sorry!

[Edited at 2012-05-29 20:58 GMT]


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The Misha
Local time: 09:32
Russian to English
+ ...
Get your priorities straight - and act accoordingly. May 30, 2012

If all you want is "career opportunities", whatever you mean by that, then there's no need to go anywhere. The biggest translation market for Russian is - surprise, surprise! - Russia and the rest of the post-Soviet space. These days you can sit on the Moon with a laptop and work just as well as long as your internet connection works. Judging by the way you write, your English is definitely non-native, but it isn't half-bad. Apparently, there's plenty of folks in your neck of the woods whose English is much worse, but somehow they all work. How much they get paid for it is another story, and I am sure you know all about it, better than I anyway.

Now, if the goal is to emigrate from your homeland, then, unless you are a super duper IT star or something, forget about "career opportunities" and think what your options may be for getting admitted to the country of your choice and winning permanent residency there. Once you are past that, you'll figure your employment or business options. It had never been easy, and these days it is probably more difficult than it used to be - unless you can qualify as a bone fide refugee, which you probably don't. In any case, from my personal experience, no one is hiring Russian translators in-house in the US, and if they were, they'd pay peanuts, and there'd still be a line around the block just to get in. Oh, and all of them would clutch US passports or at least green cards in hand. My understanding is you don't have either. Then again, you could come as a tourist, buy a lottery ticket and win the Powerball. Sure, it's possible, just not particularly likely.

If memory serves me right, Canada and Australia both have economic immigration programs (at least they used to) where they pick and choose various professionals that they think their respective economies may need. An IT degree + decent English may just qualify you.

However, if I were in your shoes - young, unattached, having nothing to lose (all presumably, of course) and speaking Spanish - I'd take a hard, long look at Latin America. Forget Argentina or Brazil. Think Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, Costa Rica or Panama. They are not your grandpa's banana republics anymore.

Wherever you decide to go, be fully prepared for your proverbial bucket of !@#$ at the beginning. How large it is in your case and how long you'll stay at it will largely depend on you.

Good luck to you.


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vadimk  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:32
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I agree, but there are some obstacles May 30, 2012

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I understand there may be a need for Russians to translate out of Russian as there are relatively few English native with a good understanding of Russian (whereas the EN>FR pair is always best left to French natives), but if you have a long-term relationship with an English proofreader they should be able to do the job more and more quickly over time, and therefore more cheaply.

Sheila

Yes, that would be a good option, but even if I had such a relationship, moving to another country and finding clients there would be still difficult. BTW how high my chances would be without any european/US degree?


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Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:32
Member (2012)
Russian to English
+ ...
Hello Vadim May 30, 2012

I am not really sure why you want to go elsewhere to pursue other opportunities if you are doing OK with your business at the present moment.

Right now the University I work at offers a Master's Degree in International Relations (no Master's Degree in languages is available, unfortunately), $6000 fee includes 2 semesters in USA with further internship in a U.S. company, is it a good way to continue my career or it would be sort of irrelevant?
Any advice would be welcome.


This program seems expensive and it doesn't entirely relate to translation if that is what you want to pursue. Would the 2 semesters in USA be a paid internship or unpaid? I have heard of people getting internships but they turned out to be unpaid so they had no way to support themselves while doing the internship.

Maybe you should focus on your English language skills if that is what you are interested in. You should join an intensive English program and try to communicate with native speakers as much as possible.

I don't know for sure. I don't have any real solid advice to offer. I just wanted to share my understanding with you. It is a tough market out there right now.

-Sarah


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vadimk  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:32
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hello Sarah May 30, 2012

Sarah McDowell wrote:

I am not really sure why you want to go elsewhere to pursue other opportunities if you are doing OK with your business at the present moment.

The reason is pretty simple - higher salary and higher living stadards. I don't want to have $1300 at a "lucky" month, while Russian prices in general are getting much and much closer to European ones.


This program seems expensive and it doesn't entirely relate to translation if that is what you want to pursue. Would the 2 semesters in USA be a paid internship or unpaid? I have heard of people getting internships but they turned out to be unpaid so they had no way to support themselves while doing the internship.

Maybe you should focus on your English language skills if that is what you are interested in. You should join an intensive English program and try to communicate with native speakers as much as possible.

I don't know for sure. I don't have any real solid advice to offer. I just wanted to share my understanding with you. It is a tough market out there right now.

-Sarah

2 14-week semesters in USA are regular semesters with lectures and classes, then an unpaid 3-month internship is provided during the last semester. As a way to get a job and to immigrate it seems like a decent option, but you've confirmed my doubts that it would be sort of irrelevant to my translation career.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:32
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Why restrict yourself? May 30, 2012

vadimk wrote:
moving to another country and finding clients there would be still difficult. BTW how high my chances would be without any european/US degree?


First of all, a degree is a degree in this industry - a Russian one would be fine, especially for a Russian translator, IMO. They are becoming required more and more: I don't have one and haven't suffered for it, but I would encourage youngsters to get one.

I just moved to Spain and, although I won't turn any Spaniards down I will be keeping my clients around the world (I hope!).

Sheila


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vadimk  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:32
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the advice! Just some comments: May 30, 2012

The Misha wrote:

Now, if the goal is to emigrate from your homeland, then, unless you are a super duper IT star or something, forget about "career opportunities" and think what your options may be for getting admitted to the country of your choice and winning permanent residency there. Once you are past that, you'll figure your employment or business options.

Had I fugured it out, I wouldn't create this topic. Right now the only real option to get a permanent residency that I see is staying legally for 3 years (i.e. for any Master's program), and here we are, with a permanent residency, but getting a job in this case would be another story.


If memory serves me right, Canada and Australia both have economic immigration programs (at least they used to) where they pick and choose various professionals that they think their respective economies may need. An IT degree + decent English may just qualify you.

Unfortunately, just a degree with a decent English level is not enough (and has never been). I have a major in IT, which means I need to have proven work experience. Some of my former software engineering colleagues have succesfully used these programs and are pretty happy now, but this opportunity is closed for me. Austria has a similar program with far lower requirements, and I'm seriously thinking about starting to study German right now.


However, if I were in your shoes - young, unattached, having nothing to lose (all presumably, of course) and speaking Spanish - I'd take a hard, long look at Latin America. Forget Argentina or Brazil. Think Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, Costa Rica or Panama. They are not your grandpa's banana republics anymore.

But do they pay well? And what's wrong with Argentina or Brasil? The Brasilian folks I've studied Spanish with told me the market is booming right now, and Brasilian Portuguese would be more or less easy for me to learn after Spanish.

Wherever you decide to go, be fully prepared for your proverbial bucket of !@#$ at the beginning. How large it is in your case and how long you'll stay at it will largely depend on you.
Good luck to you.

I've washed the dishes when I was 14, so, as my favourite screenwriter Joe Eszterhas used to say in his worst moments of multimillionaire-screenwriter's life: Hell, it ain't refugee camps! (He was born and grew up there) =)

Thanks a lot!


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