Beginner tips to gain practical experience
Thread poster: CHowell

CHowell
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:16
English to French
+ ...
Jun 5

Hello everyone,

I am new here and I would like to thank in advance the people that will take time to read and answer my question!

I am looking to become a freelance translator (English-French) and to build my own business in the next few years. I am qualified in English and Linguistics, and have been living and working in the UK for about 8 years. I have been working in motor insurance, so nothing to do with languages, despite my university studies.

My wish would be to start translating or proofreading, and gain as much experience as possible, in the view of taking the Dip Trans exam in 2019 (as it is now a little late to take it in 2018).

I have been reading articles and a lot of threads on ProZ which have been very helpful, I have been looking at some agencies to check the requirements.

I read an article yesterday about how to build your CV as a translator which stated that you should only mention the jobs relating to translation. Now, I guess what I am trying to ask is, how does this work when you are starting out? How do we present our CVs even though we have very little, perhaps no translating experience?

Can I approach agencies, which seem to often require translation qualifications, and be quite straightforward about needing to building up experience, and send them a CV that has only jobs in another field? (Not that I am suggesting I should be lying to anyone...)


Basically, is there a place for beginners?


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:16
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Welcome to ProZ.com! Jun 6

CHowell wrote:
I read an article yesterday about how to build your CV as a translator which stated that you should only mention the jobs relating to translation. Now, I guess what I am trying to ask is, how does this work when you are starting out? How do we present our CVs even though we have very little, perhaps no translating experience?

I would just amend one word of that advice. It isn't so much "relating" to translation, but "relevant" to translation. And because you're running a business (albeit a very small one), anything to do with entrepreneurial skills will have some interest to some clients, who are often looking for a business partner rather than someone who regards themself as a piece-worker. Also, anything that has included writing in any language is good. Plus there's often an element of educating clients, so any teaching could be good. And of course, if there's anything in our lives that has led us to have a specialisation, then that deserves a definite mention. In your case, you seem to have some interests that you're looking to make use of. In short, it isn't just about what jobs you've had and how many words you've translated.

There are no rules, so it may not be appropriate to include everything I've listed above; and there may be other things that are highly interesting that have a place. Just look at your CV 100% from the client's point of view. It isn't about your life; it's about your client's needs.

Can I approach agencies, which seem to often require translation qualifications, and be quite straightforward about needing to building up experience, and send them a CV that has only jobs in another field? (Not that I am suggesting I should be lying to anyone...)

You should approach everyone who has a need for your services, particularly agencies. Just do it in a selective, personalised way. And don't expect a vast number of responses. Remember that some will just file your CV and won't get in touch until they have a suitable job. That may be years down the line, or it may be tomorrow. Be available during evenings, weekends and over holiday periods, if at all possible, as that's when beginners get the most offers. Clearly, you don't lie about your lack of experience, but don't bring it to their attention either. Just tell them what your strengths are.

Basically, is there a place for beginners?

Of course - we all started as beginners . Don't expect it to be easy though. It may be a slow and painful time. Good luck!


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Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:16
Member (2012)
French to English
Hello! Jun 6

You've probably done a fair amount of translation as part of your University course. It's fine to put on your CV: "I have translated texts in the field of..." You don't have to say that this was not paid work - it's still translation experience. And then your work in motor insurance is a good way of starting off on a specialisation. Everything is useful for a translator!

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Mendham  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:16
Member (2016)
English to French
+ ...


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Volunteer experie Jun 6

One thing I would suggest in your case is to volunteer online. There are many organizations that are seeking volunteer translators such as Rosetta foundation, UNV and others. You can put that in your CV. Some of them can even right feedbacks on your proz profile.

Good luck


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Volodymyr Pedchenko
Local time: 18:16
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
CVs are for in-house positions and narrow specializations Jun 6

Nowadays many translation agencies offer tests first and request CVs only to prove that you're experienced enough in some specific topic (oil or aerospace). If you are lucky enough and will write to a translation agency, which returns quality assessment, you will be able to understand where you are at the moment.

When you get to real projects, education will be even faster.

When I was only starting in the translation field as a freelancer, I have received my first freelance order and, naturally, have checked it very thoroughly (I have already had some experience working as the in-house translator in Apple Computer and some Technical Assistance to Commonwealth of Independent States projects). But as I remember clearly, Taina Saarinen, owner of Finnish translation agency, have provided tremendous feedback even on that 'super-polished' translation. That has set top standards for all translation that followed both for this translation agency and other clients.

[Edited at 2017-06-06 18:29 GMT]


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CHowell
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:16
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Jun 6

Thank you for your very helpful replies!

It sounds like I will have to rearrange my cv in a different way than for corporate jobs. Everything you have said really helps. Sheila, thanks for your detailed response. It is very interesting to see that there are no set rules. It will be a long and winding road but quite satisfying I am sure.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:16
English to Spanish
+ ...
Academic work is not professional translation work Jun 7

Elizabeth Tamblin wrote:

You've probably done a fair amount of translation as part of your University course. It's fine to put on your CV: "I have translated texts in the field of..." You don't have to say that this was not paid work - it's still translation experience. And then your work in motor insurance is a good way of starting off on a specialisation. Everything is useful for a translator!


I'm sorry to disagree, but translation exercises during academic courses are just that: exercises. They are not professional grade and should not count towards professional translation experience.

My view is that text fragments (sometimes 500-700 words apiece) can be so varied in a translation training course as to be less than meaningful in helping assess a candidate's experience in a particular specialization. And specialization is the name of the game. Another aspect is that the practice of parlaying one's translation practices in university as part of one's translation experience is borderline unethical, in my view.


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Baran Keki  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 19:16
Member
English to Turkish
+ ...
Start out as an in-house translator Jun 7

I don't know if you can do this quite as easily in the UK as in Turkey, but if I were in your shoes I would definitely apply to a translation agency and agree to work for peanuts (or let's say work as an intern) for a few months until you've gained some real working experience and learned a thing or two about CAT tools, DTP and other technical gizmos of the trade and got a sense of how things actually work in the translation and localization business (PMs, clients, payments, rates etc etc). While doing that I would also try to build a good Proz.com profile (I really regret not having done this earlier) and an online profile (on Linkedin, Facebook and other social media). Check out other translators' CVs, copy them if necessary, try not to exaggerate your skills and experience too much. And most importantly learn how to use those cloud based translation tools. Hope this helps.

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Antony Rudakevich
Belarus
Local time: 19:17
English to Russian
+ ...
Only don't give up! Jul 9

If you have no eperience in translation this is difficult to work. But don't give up, go ahead. You will became a translator but you have to work a lot and study all the time. Don't expect it will be easy but every translator begins like that. Go ahead and don't give up!

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