A good way to gain experience? And other useful resources?
Thread poster: LaurenFeather

LaurenFeather
Local time: 11:59
French to English
+ ...
Apr 28, 2013

Hello, I'm a recent languagues graduate, wanting to gain professional translation experience. I have recently joined this site, with the intention of offering French to English translations free of charge in order to gain such experience, and valuable feedback. But I am just wondering, for the more experienced translators on here, what is the best way to begin in the field of online translation? I am slowly learning that nobody wants to give you any work unless you have experience, but gaining experience is extremely difficult since nobody wants to give you work. Does anybody have any recommendations for getting started? Also, can anybody recommend any useful books, websites or other resources for aspiring, inexperienced translators such as myself? And I apologise if this post is in the wrong forum. I am still learning how to navigate the site.

Many thanks for any advice!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Paulinho Fonseca  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:59
Member (2011)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Kudoz Apr 28, 2013

Hi Lauren,

I definitely recommend your participation in the daily Kudoz activities. They are the very best way to gain notoriety as a linguist.

Track regular translators and good luck.


Paulinho


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:59
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Commercial = paid for Apr 28, 2013

I hope you'll understand that no professional translator anywhere in the world is going to undermine their own livelihood and the profession by helping you procure commercial translations for free.

You say in your profile that it's a "hobby". In that case, can I suggest you restrict yourself to translations for which no payment would be considered - personal blogs of interest in the other language, for example. If you want to be a professional translator, start now: offer quality translations (to the best of your ability), for market prices. It's a perfectly good sideline for a language teacher - I should know!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Martina Fink  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 00:59
Member
German to English
Find a mentor or work with non-profits Apr 29, 2013

It's good that you're eager, but you should generally steer clear of offering translations for free. You are providing businesses with a valuable service and it should be remunerated accordingly.

Having said that, I sympathise with your predicament. All newcomers have the same issue (no experience = no work, no work = no experience).

One way to gain some experience would be to become a full member of this site and get yourself a mentor. You could also try to find some volunteer opportunities with non-profit organisations. They usually don't pay, but at least you wouldn't be taking paying work away from others.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Paulinho Fonseca  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:59
Member (2011)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Translator's Career Apr 29, 2013

Hi Lauren,

I suggested just a one-way through working on the future of your career. Martina Fink and Sheila Wilson are very correct with their suggestions and about career prospects.

Good luck.

Paulinho Fonseca


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:59
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Translation skills Apr 29, 2013

Perhaps you could consider developing a professional translator profile by testing your skills as a translator.
I would recommend the DipTrans (Diploma in Translation) by the Chartered Institute of Linguists. You can take a course to prepare for this exam, or you can simply practice at home with past papers and then apply for it. You could also consider taking a Masters in translation, or perhaps going to a summer school on translation.

This should give you, and potential clients, the ability to assess your translation skills. You may find that the assumption is that a language graduate does not a translator make. However, if you have a qualification in translation, it will show (potential) clients that you are credible as a translator.

The best way in my book to gain experience is to offer your work to clients who would normally not pay for a translation (such as charities), rather than to offer work that would usually be remunerated for free. However, it's probably not wholly ethical to offer a translation to a charity (even for free) unless you're absolutely sure that you'll do a good job.

Once you know that you can do a good job of translating, it's also worth looking out for rush or weekend jobs offered by agencies. These jobs are the ones that most professional translators won't take and it could just be the break that gets your foot in the door with an agency without the requisite minimum of 2 years' experience.

It's worth remembering too that working freelance as a translator is a business that requires not just translating skills, but also general business skills. You will need to know how to write an invoice, how to apply risk management, how to go about chasing payments, how to do your accounts.

I'm not saying that this is something a recent graduate couldn't do, but it is something that you need to bear in mind.

It may be worth trying to get a language job as an employee, in a translation agency or a multilingual company, to gain some experience working with your languages first before trying to start your own business. This would count as experience working with languages if you did end up deciding that you wanted to go it alone.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:59
Danish to English
+ ...
We have all started out without experience... then worked hard Apr 29, 2013

Sometimes I get the impression that hopeful translators think it is quite unreasonable that potential clients, agencies in particular, insist that translators must have X amount of years' experience if they want to be considered. Sorry to disappoint you, but it is not.

And yet, it IS that old catch 22 situation that the asker describes: how do you get experience, if nobody is willing to let you as an inexperienced newbie GET that experience? Well, surprisingly, there are thousands and thousands of translators around the world who have been in that situation (me included) and who have had to work hard to GET that experience. There is no miracle solution to it, and I sincerely fail to see how offering free translations would make any difference in a professional sense.

My advice to you would be to get any kind of work that gives you the chance to use your languages regularly, i.e. get a job with an international business or organisation. If you can get work that involves just SOME translation, that will be an absolute bonus, but the most important thing is to WORK with your languages in NATURAL contexts. That WILL count as 'linguistic experience', also when you want to offer your services to translation agencies.

I often recommend that young graduates look for work abroad, because that is (in my humble opinion) the best way of all to get a real feel for the languages you want to work with. Much more valuable than offering free translations to anyone who will accept them.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:59
German to English
+ ...
Some suggestions Apr 29, 2013

I think the ideal path is to work full-time in the industry for a while, but if that's not an option, then self-study it is! Here are some resources you could look into. Don't forget that ProZ also has a wide range of webinars and educational materials available on the industry, tools, marketing, etc.

A different book was popular when I started, but any solid guide like this will give you useful tips and a good overview.
http://www.amazon.com/How-Succeed-Freelance-Translator-Second/dp/0578077566/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1323304179&sr=1-5

Webinars on the translation industry:
http://www.ecpdwebinars.co.uk/
http://alexandria-library.com/

Make sure you join your local translators' association, too. Good luck!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:59
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Second part of the original post Apr 29, 2013

LaurenFeather wrote:
can anybody recommend any useful books, websites or other resources for aspiring, inexperienced translators such as myself?

There's an awful lot that has been written to help aspiring freelancers in general and freelance translators specifically. You could spend your life reading it all, and you could pay out a lot of money! But ProZ.com is chock-full of useful information - rather repetitive, but that never hurt anyone, and occasionally contradictory, to stimulate discussion - so why not start here?

In the Members Activities section, you will find this "Getting Established" forum, which is a mine of information, but also many other forums.
And everything in the Education section will be of interest to you - courses, articles, Wikis... Some of the training is even free!
In the Tools section, you will get an idea of the market rate for your services, and how to calculate a rate to cover your own needs.
Lastly, the section that you should logically study first: the About section. This will tell you how to get the best from ProZ.com and how to get established as a professional translator. The Site Guidance Centre is just what you need. Make sure you click on everything that's clickable - the structure isn't 100% streamlined.

Happy reading!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 05:59
Member (2012)
Russian to English
+ ...
Please don't let people take advantage of you! Apr 29, 2013

Just when I thought I had seen it all regarding posts in the lines of "How do I raise my rate?", "Is this rate too low?" etc. now I see a post offering free translations! OK, I don't want to hurt your feelings but this one just takes the cake!

Sorry, but how do you expect clients to regard you as a professional if you are giving away the services you provide for free? This is not a good strategy to try to gain more experience. The only thing that will happen is that companies will take advantage of you. It's one thing to help out your friends with translation if they are planning a trip somewhere or need help with understanding documents. It's also fine to provide your services to registered charities (I mean REAL charities and not organizations that disguise themselves as a charity but actually are a commercial business). But it is not at all OK to provide companies whose goal is to make a profit with free translations! There are already enough companies that attempt to pay translators very low rates and by writing a post like this, and having a profile with "Free translations" as a heading, is only adding fuel to the fire, so to speak. When other translators refuse to work for such low rates, the companies can then say "Oh well, we know people who are willing to do it for free!" You are helping them justify their extremely low rates.

You should look for registered charities to offer your services to, such as Translators without Borders http://translatorswithoutborders.org/ or Amnesty International. I also know of a lot of other charitable organizations who are always looking for native speakers of English for proofreading work.

Another idea is to look for texts that are of interest to you and translate them. You can build a small portfolio of translations this way. You will have to contact the authors of the texts before using these translations in the portfolio. You have not indicated any fields of specialization in your profile. Does this mean that you are prepared to offer translations in any field for free? I find this completely absurd. You should pick the fields that are of most interest to you and specialize in them. Also keep in mind which fields will be good sources of work in the future. I don't think you can rely on companies that you offer free translations to becoming paid clients. They will get used to free work from you and if you all of a sudden start to charge them they will disappear. This is because people looking for free translations are not the type of clients that you want to attract.

Consider finding a mentor, whether locally or virtually over the Internet. Also, consider enrolling in additional training to become a translator or take part in training courses online. How do you plan to make a living by offering free translations? Do you have another job that is your primary source of income? You should also invest in marketing your services and professional development. The resources available to translators are plentiful and nobody is going to list them all here because there are simply too many of them. You should look over the old posts on Proz.com, especially in the "Getting Established" section. Many questions are repeated that have been asked by others previously. Also, check out the "Articles" section of Proz.com and search for blogs of well-known translators. They offer a myriad of advice for people getting starting.

A good book to use as a starting point is "Getting Started as a Freelance Translator" by Corinne McKay but there are also several others that are useful. You can find them by searching on the Internet or in this Proz.com forum.

Good luck with getting started!


Direct link Reply with quote
 
ExScientiaVera  Identity Verified
Faroe Islands
Local time: 11:59
Danish to English
+ ...
Two ways if doing that Apr 29, 2013

LaurenFeather wrote:

Hello, I'm a recent languagues graduate, wanting to gain professional translation experience. I have recently joined this site, with the intention of offering French to English translations free of charge in order to gain such experience, and valuable feedback. But I am just wondering, for the more experienced translators on here, what is the best way to begin in the field of online translation? I am slowly learning that nobody wants to give you any work unless you have experience, but gaining experience is extremely difficult since nobody wants to give you work. Does anybody have any recommendations for getting started? Also, can anybody recommend any useful books, websites or other resources for aspiring, inexperienced translators such as myself? And I apologise if this post is in the wrong forum. I am still learning how to navigate the site.

Many thanks for any advice!



There are two ways that will grant you some experience, but one pays absolutely nothing and is limited in scope to the translation itself, but there is unlimited text to translate, and the other will split your work load between translations and the administrative steps behind working as a translator, but you will be given instruction in professional conduct as a translator, and a good foundation for your reputation.

The first way is to translate articles on Wikipedia using CAT tools. Do not translate a small section. Instead, take the best version available, and translate the entire article, with tags, references and images, and in your case, translate them either to French or English.

The other way is to cold call small translation companies and request a paid internship, which means you need to cut your rate to perhaps either a third or a quarter of what an experienced translator can charge. Work for that company for somewhere between six months and a year. In that time, you will need to work your butt off. There will be times you will fail a task, but do not do that often.


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

A good way to gain experience? And other useful resources?

Advanced search







Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »
SDL MultiTerm 2017
Guarantee a unified, consistent and high-quality translation with terminology software by the industry leaders.

SDL MultiTerm 2017 allows translators to create one central location to store and manage multilingual terminology, and with SDL MultiTerm Extract 2017 you can automatically create term lists from your existing documentation to save time.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search