Beginning (part-time) translator asks: ´How to get past the lack of experience?´
Thread poster: Steven Battisti

Steven Battisti  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:50
Japanese to English
Jul 30, 2004

Hello all,

I'm considering jumping into part-time Japanese to English translation. Like many o the folks on this forum, I'm casting about for best approaches.

I'm putting together a CV right now, but I was curious how to get past the obvious issue of having no translation experience. The last thing I formally translated was for my honors study at university in 1992!

Also, I've heard disparate opinions on agencies. Some say I shouldn't talk to them until I've built up some experience, and others say blitz the agencies until you get some work.

I'd imagine the hardest part is just getting a few small jobs to get the ball rolling.

Thoughts?

Steve

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2004-08-01 11:09]


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:50
German to English
+ ...
New Translator CVs - How to get past the lack of experience? Jul 30, 2004

Why not see if you can get some experience in a salaried, in-house position first? In most professions, it's usual to go it alone only after a period working for someone else and gaining the necessary experience.

Marc


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Steven Battisti  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:50
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
New Translator CVs - How to get past the lack of experience? Jul 30, 2004

MarcPrior wrote:

Why not see if you can get some experience in a salaried, in-house position first? In most professions, it\\\'s usual to go it alone only after a period working for someone else and gaining the necessary experience.

Marc


Well, I\\\'m actually employed full-time. I\\\'m only looking to do this as a nights-and-weekends sort of thing.

Or are you saying that there are actually salaried agency positions that can be done part-time nights and weekends as well?

Steve


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dorotrusty  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:50
English to Polish
+ ...
How about adding samples of your work? Jul 30, 2004

When I was getting started I presented samples instead of experience. Translation is translation no matter if done for yourself or someone else. My samples included translation of my Polish documents needed for US immigration and translation of my brother's article (family favor - he got English version of it for free, I had something to show on my CV). See if yo can try that, it worked in my case.

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Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:50
Member (2004)
German to English
Highlight your areas of expertise Jul 31, 2004

What have you been doing since 1992? Have you acquired skills in business/finance/computers/engineering/electronics or whatever? Mention these things on your CV - no need to go into lots of detail which won't be relevant to translating, but the fact that you have experience in XX and YY (even if you weren't using languages in those contexts) will make you of interest to people who want translations doing in these fields, because you will have the right experience and know the terminology.

If it's any consolation, I graduated in 1973 and didn't do anything formal with my languages until I took (and passed) the Dip. Trans. this year, but that 30-year gap on my CV hasn't stopped the work coming in.


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 23:50
SITE FOUNDER
Treat your second job as seriously as your first Aug 1, 2004

battisti wrote:
Well, I'm actually employed full-time.

If you are working in an industry where there is market demand for translations, I agree with the previous suggestion that you emphasis your expertise in that area. For example, the expertise you gain working in an immigration law office will boost your chances of getting work translating documents related to immigration law. Also advisable are having a complete profile, posting samples of your work, joining local associations (translation and non-translation--think about it), applying to clients, etc. Consider platinum membership, too, as this will multiply several times your chances of getting a job via ProZ.com.

You might also consider using your real name and adding a photo to your profile here. Like translators, clients need to manage the risk involved in new relationships, and arranging to let others "know" you helps your counterparts to do that. (Depending upon your terms of employment, you may want to discuss all of this with your employer.)

Although you are interested in doing translation "on the side", I would suggest you approach it in a businesslike fashion. Above all, produce work you can be proud of, and deliver it on time every time. Also, set your rates to create income that is higher, on an hourly basis, than the income from your "day job" (after adjusting for benefits you would not have as a freelancer.) Not only will this leave open the possibility of transitioning to translation full-time, which will not exist if you get stuck in low-rates-ville, it will also show clients that you take their translations as seriously as do people who dedicate themselves to translation full-time.

Other than that, market yourself energetically and be patient. For many freelancers, the hard work we did initially amply paid off in terms of both income and job satisfaction. Ganbatte kudasai.


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:50
German to English
+ ...
Beginning (part-time) translator asks: ´How to get past the lack of experience?´ Aug 1, 2004

Steve,

I presumed that the part-time solution was a prelude to doing it full-time.

Translation is a demanding profession. I'd advise doing it "on the side" whilst doing something else, just as I'd advise against striking out alone without some previous mentorship behind you.

Just my 2 cents.

Marc


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Crystal Samples  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:50
French to English
+ ...
As previously stated, Aug 1, 2004

finding a mentor to critique your work is a good idea. Also, you could try doing volunteer (free) translations to some organizations in order to gain experience. There is currently a request on the job board for volunteer Spanish-English translators. Perhaps, in the future there maybe one for your language combinations as well.

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Steven Battisti  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:50
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
How to get past the lack of experience? Aug 2, 2004

These are excellent suggestions, all.

Thanks very much. Lots of work to do!

Steve


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:20
English to Tamil
+ ...
Exactly the situation I found myself in Aug 2, 2004

Way back in 1975 I was an electrical engineer working in a government department. I was doing Oberstufe in the Goethe Institut. Its administrative officer asked me one day whether I was interested in doing part-time translation and when I said yes, he handed over a document of 10 pages (of course hard copy). My career started on such a low note. Then there was this government agency in Delhi (2000 kilometers from my native city of Chennai), which was having a panel of translators to translate into English from German and other languages. I wrote to them and got work sent by post. I finished the translation and sent it back by post. All these activities were carried out in spare time of course.

Then on the strength of these experiences, in 1981 I became a full-time employee of a government company as electrical engineer cum French translator (I had learnt French in the meantime and had cleared Diplome Superieur). The translation career had a grand leap during the next 20 years of my stay in Delhi. By the time I came back to Chennai, things here had changed beyond recognition and neither was I the same shy young man. I became a very confident professional demanding and getting my price.

My advice to you is simple. If you have a full-time job, don't leave it. Do your thing in the spare time and take the full plunge only when you are ready. You will know when to do it. You would have developed a good gut feeling about this by that time.

Regards,
N.Raghavan
Steven Battisti wrote:

MarcPrior wrote:

Why not see if you can get some experience in a salaried, in-house position first? In most professions, it\'s usual to go it alone only after a period working for someone else and gaining the necessary experience.

Marc


Well, I\'m actually employed full-time. I\'m only looking to do this as a nights-and-weekends sort of thing.

Or are you saying that there are actually salaried agency positions that can be done part-time nights and weekends as well?

Steve


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S_Reynolds  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:50
Chinese to English
Regarding obtaining salaried In-House work. Aug 11, 2004

MarcPrior wrote:

Why not see if you can get some experience in a salaried, in-house position first? In most professions, it's usual to go it alone only after a period working for someone else and gaining the necessary experience.

Marc







Hi,

I'm just completing my Masters in Translation and am (just now) very despondent about finding full time work in Translation.
Marc, you recommend getting in-house work, this would be ideal to me, but i read elsewhere that rarely are in-house positions given to newly qualified translators with no "real" experience.
My frustration is further compounded by the fact that the only other jobs i've really ever done have been more or less menial or care related and they carry no special skill or knowledge which could ever be used when translating.

I'm doing some voluntary translation for Amnesty International -Law, Chinese>English, but even that won't be very transferable to the more common(so i read) technical, scientific, patent etc. type stuff.

As a matter of interest, what salary would a freelance translator of some years tend to earn? (Of course no compulsion to answer this if it feels over-personal)

Thanx.


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:50
German to English
+ ...
Beginning (part-time) translator asks: ´How to get past the lack of experience?´ Aug 11, 2004

S_Reynolds wrote:

... i read elsewhere that rarely are in-house positions given to newly qualified translators with no "real" experience.


In-house translation positions in companies and NGOs are very desirable, so that may be true of such employers. In-house jobs with translation companies are generally far less interesting in terms of remuneration, potential for improvement (informal training), etc., and in fact such employers are likely to find it very difficult to get translators with any experience at all. Even with just a couple of years' experience, a translator can make a go of it freelancing and is likely to earn substantially more than a staffer in a translation company. (What's possible isn't necessarily advisable.)

Positions for Chinese to English translators are likely to be rare in the UK, though. Translators to fill such positions are probably also rare.

Student translators often complain about the lack of in-house possibilities, but employers complain just as loudly about the lack of talent. A bit more realism is needed on both sides. Translators, in particular, need to be more willing to move - most newly qualified translators seem to expect to find a job around the corner. Employers for their part need to be willing to pay salaries that reflect the level of training already completed.

As a matter of interest, what salary would a freelance translator of some years tend to earn?


No simple answer to that. I recommend ordering a copy of the ITI rates and salaries survey.

Marc


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Salvora  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:50
English to Spanish
Voluntary translations for charities Aug 17, 2004

Steve,

I do voluntary translations for a charity in order to get experience. I found their ad on this website in fact.

You could run a search online of japanese charities or other kind of non-profit organisations and contacting them offering them your translating services. You can also run a search in google with the words \"Voluntary translators needed.\"

Hope that helps.

Sálvora


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