Best way to gain experience / Find a mentor
Thread poster: Luke Brady

Luke Brady  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:38
German to English
May 24, 2017

Hello,

I'm not 100% certain that this is the correct area of the forum to post this and it seems that this could fall under a number of different categories, so if this is the wrong area, I apologise.

I joined ProZ.com to look for a mentor, who translated specifically from German to English (this would be my target language) but unfortunately have not had any success in finding one. A friend of mine, who found a mentor through ProZ and has been successfully translating for the past several months, suggested that I try my luck and post here.

My question is: failing to get a mentor through the mentoring program on the site, does anyone have any experience or heard of someone they know successfully finding a mentor through other means? I don't expect anyone on these forums to offer to be my mentor, I'm just trying to increase my chances so I can try to learn and improve.

I appreciate any answers or suggestions that anyone may have and apologise again if this is already frequently asked or considered spam in any way.

Thank you for reading.


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
Is this your second option? May 25, 2017

Have you tried contacting local university instructors or professors?
Maybe there is a local chapter or branch of a translators association: have you contacted them?

Although mentoring has merits, to me it's more about mutual trust and preference. But, more importantly, why do you think you need a mentor to gain experience? What is the mentor supposed to be doing for you? What concrete expectations do you have?


 

Luke Brady  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:38
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
For constructive criticism on where to improve and gain experience. May 26, 2017

My reason for wanting a mentor is primarily for someone who is more experienced than I to proof-read and advise where I have made mistakes and how I can improve. This is not to say that I don't proof-read my own work, however without the experience of having translated a lot; what seems correct to me may in reality not be.

I haven't asked any professors or instructors; that is a good idea and I think I will look into the possibility. It's a sort of catch-22 when you learn a language and want to retain and build on your knowledge, however you don't have as many opportunities to speak the language as previously.

Translating is an effective way of doing it, however to be a good translator takes a lot of time and practice, either through studying or generally working on your skills. The problem, I find, is that someone without previous knowledge and no relevant qualifications, who understands that translating isn't easy by any means and requires a lot of time to be invested, finds it hard for an opportunity, even unpaid, to translate a text and have someone look at it after and explain what should be changed or improved.

It's hard to know what was good and bad about your work without that mentoring aspect, which is the reason for me coming to these forums and pursuing this.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:38
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Perhaps you need more May 27, 2017

Mentoring is certainly one way to learn good habits, but have you considered doing some sort of formalised training?

There are really two ways into this profession. You can either come in as a young person, as a first career, or you can come in as someone who has already had a career in something else. The mature beginner who has had half a lifetime of living and working in two or more languages and has built up specialist knowledge of one or more subject areas has a lot to offer clients, even without specific translation qualifications. A young person would have a real problem as they really don't have anything much at all to offer clients. If you take a look at the directory here, you'll see that there are thousands of German to English translators - and far from everyone is registered on ProZ.com, of course. So I think you need to fulfil two objectives: find out how best to translate (as you've acknowledged), and find ways to convince clients that they should come to you. I think the two together will require more from you than learning from a mentor. Most young beginners nowadays bring a Master's in Translation on top of a degree in either languages or their specialist subject areas. The better clients expect either qualifications or experience - preferably both, of course.

It would really pay you to arm yourself with a lot more to interest potential clients. At the moment, the only way I can see you getting work is to compete with experienced and qualified translators solely in terms of price. That isn't going to be very lucrative for someone who lives in Germany, and the work you get isn't going to be enjoyable as it will only be the real bottom-feeders who'll work with you. I don't like to dishearten you, but that really is the hard truth..


 

The Misha
Local time: 05:38
Russian to English
+ ...
Unfortunately, that's not how it works in real life May 28, 2017

Ashadyguy wrote:

My reason for wanting a mentor is primarily for someone who is more experienced than I to proof-read and advise where I have made mistakes and how I can improve.


What you are basically asking is for someone to proof and fix after you and teach you how to do your job. Isn't this what schools are for? Don't get me wrong, I sympathize with your situation, but most of us do what you ask for as a paid service, and those of us who are good are not cheap. I can see doing what you ask for once or twice as a favor to someone I like or care for, but come on, doing this for any length of time for some shady guy I don't know? I don't think so.

On top of that, it is my understanding this place makes you jump through all kinds of hoops to be "eligible" to become a mentor. Really? No wonder there's no takers.


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
IMO May 28, 2017

I don’t think a formal education or a mentor would help much. Indeed, they may provide specific guidelines, yet one must gain personal exp and grow a decent specialized TM (some 35k+ TU’s) and glossaries while mastering this biz.

Why, the education grants some fancy theories, a nice paper, and a kind of (paid) association. The problem is even so-called ‘professional socialization’ and ‘professional organizations’ are often not what they might seem and imply—no guarantees.
A mentor is always subjective for thrusting personal limitations and preferences down to one’s throat, keeping in mind that a learner is but a rival—no real tricks of the trade.

Perhaps, the answer is learning while practicing, starting the biz WHEN one is ready (1) to provide timely an acceptable translation and (2) to do the biz–to plan, manage risks, market and deal with clients and specific needs/requirements et cetera, et cetera.

It took me a couple of months to get some 35k unique TU’s, so I was more experienced with several CATs, discovered many nuances, made the routine both efficient and smooth, and I looked ahead with confidence. The only thing I regret a little is not dwelling on the biz aspects deep enough, because very soon I also did learn the life is a very strict and intolerant teacher)

Cheers

[Edited at 2017-05-29 03:44 GMT]


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
The key is to keep writing May 30, 2017

Ashaduy, no amount of language learning can teach you how to translate until you start translating, i.e. writing translations.

In antiquity, masters (now blithely called 'mentors' by some) would accept students under their wing to teach them how to do something, whether it was shoemaking, printing, sculpting, painting, and many other crafts. The key idea was that the master would take on an apprentice, not that the master was going around offering mentoring services. As some have indicated in other words, mentoring someone requires trust and, I would add, stern discipline.

Accepting an apprentice to learn to be a competent translator, as far as this discussion goes, requires a great deal of commitment and practice, and the apprentice's willingness to be challenged and criticized at every turn. If you want to be competent at something, you can't have a fragile ego or feelings that are easily bruised if someone disapproves of your efforts or your work. You think such a master or mentor is unfair, tough, incredibly difficult or negative? Wait until you work with real-world clients then.


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:38
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Professionalism May 30, 2017

Ashadyguy wrote:

If you want to be a professional, why not start by changing your user name? Who is going to give translation work - or a mentorship for that matter - to a shady guy? Impressions count. Think professionalism. Think business. Think client perceptions.


 


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


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

Best way to gain experience / Find a mentor

Advanced search







PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

More info »
SDL Trados Studio 2019 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2019 has evolved to bring translators a brand new experience. Designed with user experience at its core, Studio 2019 transforms how new users get up and running and helps experienced users make the most of the powerful features.

More info »



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