Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Getting a Mentor
Thread poster: Heather Walker (X)

Heather Walker (X)  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:51
German to English
+ ...
Feb 4, 2015

I'm interested in getting a mentor. I know that there are more people wanting to get a mentor than there are people willing to be a mentor. I've sent out a couple of requests without much luck.

I was thinking that I might start contacting people that are not on the mentor list. Do you think that would be against the ProZ rules? Do you think that would be annoying?

I'm a new German to English translator with a specialty in legal translating. I have very little experience, so I'm basically looking for someone who can offer me some experience or a peer review. I'll have my law degree in May, and I should be a licensed attorney by September, so I feel like I have something to offer.

I was thinking that someone who does German to English in this field might see me as the competition. Perhaps I should try to find someone who does English to German? Or maybe even someone with a different specialty?

I know that I can post a general mentor request, but I'm not sure how successful that would be. Has anyone had luck with that? I don't know if I should specify that I am looking for a mentor with at least x years of experience, etc.

Can anyone share advice on how they successfully secured a mentoring relationship?

[Edited at 2015-02-04 15:33 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-02-04 15:34 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-02-04 15:35 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-02-04 18:50 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:51
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Bump! Feb 4, 2015

I don't have specific experience in this area so I'm really just replying to bump this thread.
I was thinking that someone who does German to English in this field might see me as the competition. Perhaps I should try to find someone who does English to German? Or maybe even someone with a different specialty?

I think you'll find someone in your own area far more useful than anyone else. Whether they see you as a competitor really depends on what you want from them, what there is in it for them, and whether they like the idea of mentoring.

But what is it exactly that you want? I gather mentoring can take many different forms. Some mentors give more help with marketing and admin than with the techniques of translation. If you just want the latter, maybe you're really looking for a proofreader who's prepared to spend a little time giving the reasons behind their proposed changes. If you find your own clients and just present the work for proofreading there's no reason why they should see you as competition.


 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Do you really need it? Feb 4, 2015

You have wonderful language pair, relevant studies and positive energy. This is all you need to get started.



Dos:
- contact agencies with your language pair and subject matter.
- offer them free translation test (200 - 300 words).
- do it thoroughly; it has to be perfect.
- repeat the cycle.
- learn from your mistakes.
- repeat the cycle.
- boost your ProZ profile (samples, relevant courses, clear message).
- repeat the cycle.
- take part in KudoZ activities
-repeat the cycle

Don'ts:
- don't accept unrealistic deadlines (you can still do 4k words a day, but the quality will suffer and you will lose the customer). Yes, unfortunately even reputable agencies ask for such criminal deadlines. Still puzzled why, though.
- don't despair; it really take a couple of years to get fully established. There are no shortcuts.

I am sure there is a reason for ProZ mentor programme to be there. However, simply ask yourself a question; what do you really expect from a mentor? They will not give you work. They will not teach you how to translate. They will probably guide you through the profession, but this forum can do that too just fine.

Off topic: I learned one very important thing, the hard way. The "success" does not come from doing actual work. It comes from the activities that you carry out in between. So, read, read and read. Make notes. Have files organised by topic, subject matter, etc. When I have time, I just go to www.boe.es or www.noticias.juridicas.com and read a couple of pages of legislation, articles, news, etc. We have to keep out vocabulary fresh. It has to come naturally. Practice makes perfect, really.

Good luck!


 

Heather Walker (X)  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:51
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Feb 5, 2015

Sheila,

Thank you for the bump. You really have me thinking now of what I want out of a mentoring relationship. I think I could probably use any help that I could get. At my last job, I had someone to proof all of my work, and it was a great system. The final product almost always came out polished and professional. Now that I'm on my own, I will probably need to learn to get better at proofing my own stuff. I think the only way to really do this is to set it aside for a day and look at it again later with fresh eyes. It is best practice for translators hire proof-readers for their work?

Merab,

Thank you for the kind words. Your post was such an encouragement to me. Your advice is much appreciated. I have some books on the German legal system in my Amazon shopping cart. I think I will go ahead and make that order. I will follow your other advice as well. Do you think that I should wait until I have my law degree before I start contacting agencies?


 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I would go ahead now Feb 5, 2015

Heather Walker wrote:
Do you think that I should wait until I have my law degree before I start contacting agencies?


Certanly not. The fact that you are studding (you have invested your time and money) already means you are serious about it. Besides, customers expect reliable, accurate translations. Do you think your output will be better once you have received the "paper"? If you don't, then go ahead and start working now.

This is redundant, I know, but please do not compromise your rates and do not accept unrealistic deadlines. The fact that you are starting out (could be temptingto accept anything at any cost) does not grant you any right to deliver semi-finished output. It might take you more time though to achive the right quality (hence no tight deadlines or the customer is gone, sometimes for good).

Good luck!


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:51
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
You maybe need self-confidence more than anything else Feb 5, 2015

Heather Walker wrote:
Now that I'm on my own, I will probably need to learn to get better at proofing my own stuff. I think the only way to really do this is to set it aside for a day and look at it again later with fresh eyes.

That's a very, very good way to go. First, just read through the target to see if it reads totally naturally. If you can detect any source language interference (structure or terminology) then there's clearly more work to be done. Then check it for accuracy.
It is best practice for translators hire proof-readers for their work?

I didn't personally, but then I wasn't doing legal work. I can see two alternatives to paying a proofreader:
1. Only accept less important texts to begin with. Maybe blogs and reviews rather than contracts? (I don't know.)
2. Only work with agencies who will have your translations proofread by competent proofreaders (i.e. someone who is as competent as you in both languages, a subject specialist AND an experienced proofreader). Agencies like that DO exist, and they should pass feedback to you.

I'm wondering if you have any training at all in translation techniques. If not, that's certainly something that you would benefit from. It doesn't have to be much. I did a basic distance-learning certificate before starting out. As a piece of paper I doubt it's worth much, but it gave me an appreciable amount of know-how and self-confidence. Although I do remember hour after hour going by before I finally plucked up courage to press "send" the very first timeicon_wink.gif.


 

Maria S. Loose, LL.M.  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 18:51
German to English
+ ...
source language interference for legal texts Feb 5, 2015

When translating legal texts from German into English there is bound to be source language terminology interference in the target language text because the legal systems are completely different. Germany/Austria/Switzerland are civil law countries whereas all English speaking countries are common law countries.

I would recommend to read some specialized books about German-English translation of legal texts. There are some very good ones on the website of the German Translators' Association/BDÜ. They are probably not for sale with Amazon. Here is a link to one of these books:

http://www.bdue-fachverlag.de/fachverlag/publikationen/detail_book/71

The BDÜ also has courses on offer about this topic. But they take place in Germany and this might be an excessively big investment for you at this stage.

You can also ask us terminological questions on KudoZ. There are quite a few colleagues on this site who have lots of experience translating German legal texts into English.

A mentor not specialized in legal translations probably isn't of any help to you.

But don't worry. There is lots of work for German-English legal translators.


 

John Moran  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 17:51
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
Finding a mentor Feb 5, 2015

Just to add a few words to the good advice above...

Like you I started out from the position of having a technical qualification (computer science) before I learned how to translate. This will serve you well but you are right that some feedback from a more experienced translator is very useful. I was lucky in that my first clients were direct clients, so I became an "agency" almost immediately and I could afford to pay to have my work reviewed by more experienced colleagues.

If you budget about €.03 into your word price you can simply hire a translator to do the review by posting on proz. Before sending the work be open about the fact that it is your own work and maybe even discuss it on Skype. I am not suggesting you add that to your bid price, but rather treat it as an investment until you feel you can take the training wheels off. Also, while I accept that proz can be good for finding work, in general you should also look at other sales channels too. In legal translation there is no reason why you should not be working with direct clients. Tess Whitty's podcast is a good source of ideas on how to do this (marketingtipsfortranslators.com).


Finally, and I realize this will come off a bit left-field, I have noticed that some of the most experienced translators we work with are making good use of Dragon Naturally Speaking as a means of getting more words translated per hour. One of them works with an inexperienced colleague who takes the mp3 recording and Dragon's raw output and fixes up the target text for delivery. Between them they get through more than double the average daily throughput of the translators who use a keyboard. I suspect the less experienced colleague also does some of the easier work himself (with review by the experienced colleague). It strikes me as a great way to become exposed to the work of a senior colleague (mentor).

Good luck with your career!


 

Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 02:51
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Starting without a mentor Feb 6, 2015

Hi Heather,

I think, with such an impressive academic background in law you do not need a mentor. And there is no need to wait until your graduation. I agree with the colleagues who have suggested sending your resume to the translation agencies, and if you need some feedback, just take their tests. It will give you an idea where you stand at the moment.


 

Robin Levey
Chile
Local time: 13:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
Lost in translation? Feb 6, 2015

Heather Walker wrote:

... I'll have my law degree in May, and I should be a licensed attorney by September, so I feel like I have something to offer.


I don't get it. You expect to become a licensed attorney within the next 6 months ... and you want to earn your living as a 'mere'* translator?

* Provocative language used, quite precisely, to provoke thought and/or discussion about the relative earnings and long-term professional prospects of lawyers and translators.


 

Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:51
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
on the course aspect and my experience Feb 6, 2015

Maria S. Loose, LL.M. wrote:

The BDÜ also has courses on offer about this topic. But they take place in Germany and this might be an excessively big investment for you at this stage.



The German legalese course is available in webinar format here: http://www.rechtssprache.biz/
I did this course and thoroughly enjoyed it. It has a strong focus on the grammatical differences between German legalese and general German.

The basics of the German legal system are covered in the legalese course, but the German online course market offers a lot of choice for a slightly more comprehensive understanding, e.g. https://kurse.vhb.org/VHBPORTAL/kursprogramm/kursprogramm.jsp?kDetail=true

I have a monolingual proofreader and that works quite well for me in general. However, some NDAs forbid utilising her. I suppose this really is a limiting factor in many aspects of legal translation, as you're bound to deal with sensitive material that simply cannot be discussed with a third party, even a colleague.

There's a lot of KudoZ activity in the legal field in our language pair and I learnt a lot there. But again, some NDAs specifically state that I mustn't use forums for terminology research.

I do collaborate with a few more senior colleagues and I really enjoy that. I suppose this is what you are aiming at. I didn't specifically look for that when I started out, but busy colleagues sometimes do outsource work and they will often provide helpful feedback. Unlike agencies who have a number of translators on their books, these colleagues will just have one or two translators to fall back on. German/English legal work is steady and it's fairly common for a seemingly insignificant 300 word project well done to lead to regular work. This is how all of my collaborations started - direct contact offering a short, very tricky project followed by an explanation of the casual requirement for a back-up translator on a reasonably regular basis after my delivery and their review of the project.

[Edited at 2015-02-06 08:18 GMT]


 

Heather Walker (X)  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:51
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Reply Feb 6, 2015

I feel confident right now in my legal knowledge of certain subjects: real estate, probate, etc. After I study for the Bar exam, I will probably feel confident in a few other legal topics.

How many words per day would be a realistic goal for a new translator? I have been quoting the average rate listed on this site for jobs, and when I have received a response, I have usually been offered a lower rate. I haven't turned anything down due to rates, because I haven't needed to. Usually the agency tells me that they are not interested when they find out that I don't have much experience. I'm planning to check if any non-profit organizations need volunteer translators. I have a feeling, though, that German to English isn't a popular language pair in that domain.

You could say that I do not have training in translation techniques. My German degree required me to translate texts, but only informally. I do have some friends who have been translators, and I have discussed techniques with them at great length. I just ordered Thinking German Translation (Higgins), Translating Law (Cao), and A Practical Guide for Translators (Samuelsson-Brown). I have been considering taking another loan and enrolling in the NYU program, but I think I saw a poll that gave me the impression that a lot of translators aren't using translation theory in their day to day work, so I'm not sure if it is worth the investment.

I also ordered these books on German law: The German Legal System and Legal Language (Fisher), Introduction to German Legal Methods (Junker), and An Introduction to German Law (Junkers). I should probably also get some books on the Austrian and Swiss legal systems. After I finish the books that are coming, I will order from the BDÜ. I just bookmarked the link. I will also look into the webinar and online courses that have been mentioned.

I will also consider hiring a proofreader or reviewer when I work for agencies that allow this, and I will look into Tess Whitty's podcast. I had actually searched for podcasts related to translation advice a while ago, but I found a lot of results discussing translations of literature, and I couldn't find what I was looking for.

Regarding becoming an attorney vs. becoming a translator - I think I'd rather be a translator, for several reasons. I think I'm going to like the work better, and the legal market is tight. I know some attorneys who make a lot, but I probably know more who are struggling. I think the salary depends more on the attorney's legal field of expertise and who he or she knows than anything else. I would like to eventually get into immigration, but I don't live near a federal court, and I'm not planning on moving, so that may never happen. However, if my translation career really takes off, I'd like to volunteer at an immigration law office one day a week.


 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I wish I spoke German:-) Feb 6, 2015

Heather Walker wrote:

I feel confident right now in my legal knowledge of certain subjects: real estate, probate, etc. After I study for the Bar exam, I will probably feel confident in a few other legal topics.

How many words per day would be a realistic goal for a new translator? I have been quoting the average rate listed on this site for jobs, and when I have received a response, I have usually been offered a lower rate. I haven't turned anything down due to rates, because I haven't needed to. Usually the agency tells me that they are not interested when they find out that I don't have much experience. I'm planning to check if any non-profit organizations need volunteer translators. I have a feeling, though, that German to English isn't a popular language pair in that domain.

You could say that I do not have training in translation techniques. My German degree required me to translate texts, but only informally. I do have some friends who have been translators, and I have discussed techniques with them at great length. I just ordered Thinking German Translation (Higgins), Translating Law (Cao), and A Practical Guide for Translators (Samuelsson-Brown). I have been considering taking another loan and enrolling in the NYU program, but I think I saw a poll that gave me the impression that a lot of translators aren't using translation theory in their day to day work, so I'm not sure if it is worth the investment.

I also ordered these books on German law: The German Legal System and Legal Language (Fisher), Introduction to German Legal Methods (Junker), and An Introduction to German Law (Junkers). I should probably also get some books on the Austrian and Swiss legal systems. After I finish the books that are coming, I will order from the BDÜ. I just bookmarked the link. I will also look into the webinar and online courses that have been mentioned.

I will also consider hiring a proofreader or reviewer when I work for agencies that allow this, and I will look into Tess Whitty's podcast. I had actually searched for podcasts related to translation advice a while ago, but I found a lot of results discussing translations of literature, and I couldn't find what I was looking for.

Regarding becoming an attorney vs. becoming a translator - I think I'd rather be a translator, for several reasons. I think I'm going to like the work better, and the legal market is tight. I know some attorneys who make a lot, but I probably know more who are struggling. I think the salary depends more on the attorney's legal field of expertise and who he or she knows than anything else. I would like to eventually get into immigration, but I don't live near a federal court, and I'm not planning on moving, so that may never happen. However, if my translation career really takes off, I'd like to volunteer at an immigration law office one day a week.




Words translated for a "new translator": certainly not more than 1k a day (8 - 10 hours). Better 500 (it has to be "perfect").

Your language pair is not popular? I wish I spoke German.

As of rates, you will see it overtime all by yourself. There is no point to have steady customer who pays low rates. You will end up dropping them. It is not sustainable. You do not need them if you are serious about your career.

Volunteer work: it is much easier than you can imagine. Take German law-related articles, contracts or similar and translate them into English. Do it every day (a few hours a day). Keep the files, keep researching terminology, go back to your translations, review them. Keep word count. Then you can easily tell anybody you did “volunteer” work and have translated x number of words.

More importantly, you will see firsthand how difficult, energy consuming and fascinating translation work is. You will also see if it is for you. But do it “in parallel”; contact agencies, take on small jobs, but do not stop working on your own. What you do during the time elapsed between the jobs will determine how successful you will be in the long run.


 

Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:51
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
maybe a different approach Feb 6, 2015

I honestly don't think there is ever a shortage of German/English legal work - in the commercial, the regulatory and the volunteer market. Remember that German isn't only spoken in Germany, but also in the tax havens of Switzerland and Liechtenstein. There are a lot of translators in that pair who target legal work, but few who are really able to move above standard T&Cs. So really, with your academic background you will stand out.

You say your legal focus includes real estate - I would probably try to contact direct clients that deal with real estate investments, hire a proofreader who likes to really pick your work apart and use the time until your bar exams to build up a small but high quality client base.
Volunteer work doesn't mean that a lower standard is acceptable and NGOs quite often require several years' experience.
As to daily output - depending on the source text, mine can vary by factor 3.



[Edited at 2015-02-06 18:08 GMT]


 

Heather Walker (X)  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:51
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Question about the Birkbeck program Feb 9, 2015

I want everyone to know that I saw a rush job posted on another forum this weekend and I didn't apply. I will keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities, and I'll see if I can find someone to review my work on those projects.

I was really pleased to find out that German to English is a pair that is in demand. I didn't know this when I started my German degree in 2001. I just wanted to study the language because I liked it, and it came easier than French and Spanish.

I looked around a lot this weekend for online trainings and degrees. I found the Birkbeck Use Your Language, Use Your English program, but I don't see much buzz about it anywhere. Has anyone heard of this? It is a free online program that culminates in an exam, but I don't think any credential can be earned from it.

I also saw an online masters in law from Austria, which seems like it would be really helpful for background knowledge, but it would be a huge time commitment, and I'm not at all confident in my ability to write scholarly papers in German. Also, the website is a little vague about accommodations for students that cannot come to campus for exams and other required events.

I'm not sure if I should get a translation certificate, another law degree (from a German-language university), or if I should just do a substantial amount of reading and then jump in.


 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


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


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

Getting a Mentor

Advanced search







TM-Town
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »
WordFinder Unlimited
For clarity and excellence

WordFinder is the leading dictionary service that gives you the words you want anywhere, anytime. Access 260+ dictionaries from the world's leading dictionary publishers in virtually any device. Find the right word anywhere, anytime - online or offline.

More info »



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