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How to get a job in translation (guidance)?
Thread poster: LauG

LauG
United States
Feb 8, 2014

Hi,
In first place, this question is not for me, but for a very close friend in real need. He's moving and he doesn't have net connection right now. So I'm asking for him.
He really wanted to become a translator but had to interrupt his studies and couldn't take even a bachelor degree. He doesn't really have any degree at all and needs to find a job. He also doesn't have any experience in anything. (he's almost 22) Of course that he's not expecting to get a very well paid job and he knows how hard it can be to get established on the translation field. But languages is the only thing is good at and besides, it's his dream. So, how hard could it be for him to get a job in translation? Could it be possible for him to get a full time job? Should he sent emails to translations agencies?
He can translate:
English - Portuguese
Portuguese - English
Spanish - Portuguese
Spanish - to English
Also, he can also translate from French and Italian, but just not as fluent as he is in the other languages.
How can he get into translating books, movies and TV shows? (Since this is what he likes the most.)
He's also a very fast typist, so I wonder if he could also do copy typing works...

Anyway, it would be very good for him to get a full time job, it would solve a lot of problems in his life, but freelancing would probably have to do since I doubt that anyone would hire someone would complete no experience and no CV to show. Unless there's some sort of test that agencies provide. (I'm not into this field at all). Also, he can only work from home.

I truly ask for your guidance. He's falling into depression and I'm really worried about him.
Many tanks in advance


 

ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 03:10
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
Resume Feb 8, 2014

I think he should start typing a good resume first. This he can certainly do from home. This is the least he should have. A good resume. Who would want to hire somebody without a resume. I would not.

I think you said he does not have any Internet access. He should. There are millions of documents on the Internet about writing a good resume. He should start somewhere. If he does not do anything, he will fall into depression. That will be too bad. So he should move soon.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:10
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Translating equals freelancing equals communication Feb 9, 2014

I think your friend needs to ask these questions if he's serious. Translation really isn't a "can't do anything else" option. You have to not only speak 2+ languages but have great target writing skills. Then, you need to research and research and research. Even if you can speak two languages, do you know the equivalent terminology? Probably not. This is why research skills are so important.

 

Srini Venkataraman
United States
Local time: 19:10
Member (2012)
Tamil to English
+ ...
good typist Feb 9, 2014

Since you say he is a good typist, the most appropriate will be transcribing- where speed counts. But he will need accessories like headphones, PC, net connection etc. I guess ES transcribing load will be huge. Expert level language skill may not be needed unless technical transcribing.

 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:10
Russian to English
+ ...
Well, he may want to try looking for a bartending job Feb 9, 2014

while he is completing his studies and gaining experience in translation. I don't think a person who does not have any experience in translation will be able to survive on the few dollars they may make on some sporadic, not very complex, translations.

Then he should finish his undergraduate studies, take some short translation courses and work on his languages, while translating things for himelf-- that an experienced translator should check, however, form time to time.

He could find an office assistant job (making copies, answering phone calls, typing), if he does not like bartending, of course. I believe that you should follow your dreams--but please be realistic. Books and movie scripts are usually translated by people with a lot of education and 10-20 years of experience. Of course--that might be a great possibility for your friend, down the line, but it will most likely take him 10 years, at least, to get there.

[Edited at 2014-02-09 11:04 GMT]


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 03:10
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
You need language skills in almost every field Feb 9, 2014

Your friend could look for jobs in tourism, where his language skills would be a plus. Translation is more suitable for older people with experience in various fields. Almost everybody speaks foreign languages nowadays. Translation is a field you enter after you have gained experience in a profession.

 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:10
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Good at languages, fast typist Feb 9, 2014

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

Your friend could look for jobs in tourism, where his language skills would be a plus. Translation is more suitable for older people with experience in various fields. Almost everybody speaks foreign languages nowadays. Translation is a field you enter after you have gained experience in a profession.


Right on the dot, Heinrich!

The tourism and transportation industries needs these people badly.

If you check a travel site like TripAdvisor, you'll notice that some of the harshest complaints on some hotels in international tourist destinations (e.g. Orlando, FL) begins with "Nobody there speaks (language)." Bottom line is that guests had an unpleasant experience there, not because they didn't get their needs/expectations fulfilled, but because they couldn't get them understood to get started.

Envision this... the Brazilian tourist wants a blanket ("cobertor" in PT), and the ES-speaking hotel staff gets them flatware ("cubiertos" in ES).

I witnessed this one in Fortaleza, CE, northeastern Brazil. At the hotel restaurant, a guest from Cayenne, asked for "poulet" ("chicken" in FR), with an open "e", their peculiar accent. The waiter brought him a beef steak ("filé"). The man got flustered, and said "Non, non, poulet!". The waiter brough him a spoon ("colher" in PT, with the same open "e). Not until the big man stood up and began cackling and flapping his arms the waiter realized what he wanted.

In the same restaurant, on the next day, a French lady had other troubles. She asked for "eau minerale sans gaz". The waiter guessed "mineral water" from the "minerale", but missed the "sans". So he asked "Com ou sem gás?" (sparkling or not? = with or without gas?). The woman had to resort to gestures and "Psssst! Non, non!"

Later the same woman requested a "gâteau". That was hilarious, as the waiter got puzzled, wonderng whether he should go up on the roof and try to grab a meowing creature for her. "Gato" in PT is a cat!

I commented on that with the headwaiter and he explained: "We used to have lots of English-speaking tourists. So during the low season we had all our staff trained in EN. Many of them became pretty fluent. Now some travel agency has flooded our hotel with French-speaking people who fly here via Cayenne, and we get into all sorts of situations. I've already learned the word for them: 'Hélas!'"

Airlines also need lots of "good at languages" staff in every airport. Foreign people need their problems solved efficiently, there is no time to go find someone who understands them in any language, if they want to meet the EDT, and the queue is long. As now everything is done with computers, a fast typist is most welcome.

Once I was at JFK airport, and our flight to Toronto was cancelled. They'd get us cabs, and fly us from LaGuardia instead. An Italian family, who spoke no English, was together. They quickly shoved "mama" and the three "bambini" into one cab. And they rushed me and "papa" into another. Papa was terrified, he had no idea on what was going on; he thought his family had been kidnapped. I had to reassure him in my high-school Italian that it was not the case, and explain the entire situation.

Money-making translation is usually about content, so knowledge in some fields of human knowledge is required. While your friend develops that in his spare time, he may stay afloat working in the hospitality/transportation industry.

[Edited at 2014-02-09 12:16 GMT]


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:10
Russian to English
+ ...
I absolutley agree that transltion Feb 9, 2014

is not a field you get trained in (start form scratch and get trained)--you have to get trained in many other fields and acquire very diverse knowledge plus language skills to become a translator.


[Edited at 2014-02-09 12:29 GMT]


 
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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:10
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Me too! Feb 10, 2014

Elena Mitic wrote:
Just curious: this is the way you started Silvia? I have my doubts about this method!


That's why I started this thread yesterday.


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:10
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes, he may definitely contact some agencies to do some less complex work, Feb 10, 2014

however, I don't think he should expect too much in the beginning--as an unexperienced translator. I strongly recommend that he gets a real job and works on some less complex texts only in the beginning--on the side.

 
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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:10
Member (2008)
French to English
Translate into your mother tongue Feb 10, 2014

One other point that could be mentioned is that although he may think he is fluent in many languages and directions, he would be well advised to stick to translating into his mother tongue. I also agree that it's a numbers game - once he has an internet connection and a professional looking CV (see the articles on this site for how to put together a CV), then you can count on at least a 2-5% return on the number of agencies contacted, and possibly much more.

[Edited at 2014-02-10 12:40 GMT]


 

Anna Spanoudaki-Thurm  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:10
Member (2009)
German to Greek
+ ...
Practice what you preach? Feb 10, 2014

Silvia M. wrote:
(I always advise against spamming or mass-emailing)


 
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