Getting work with little experience
Thread poster: Carolina Alves

Carolina Alves
Portugal
Local time: 11:12
Spanish to Portuguese
+ ...
Sep 5, 2017

Hi everyone,

I'll be completing my Masters soon and been trying to apply to work with some agencies. The thing is most agencies require a few years of experience or references and I don't have many yet.

Does anyone know any agencies that don't require experience to begin with?

Thanks


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Michele Lemieux-Madison  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:12
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
Just apply Sep 7, 2017

Hi Carolina,

We have all started somewhere. I will tell you to apply, look here at Proz, Translatorscafé, apply, apply, apply. Someone will give you a chance eventually and you will get started. Join your local translation agency, you should have a student discount.

My second word of advice is to start with emergencies. Often, once we have experience, we don't have time or we just don't feel like working nights and weekends anymore, we tend to choose our projects. So last minute projects can be a little more open to people with less experience.

If you know anyone, family, friends, who own businesses, or play a leading role in one, ask them to give you a chance. You may want to volunteer for non-profits, anything to get experience and to put in your resume.

Just be careful to not skimp on fees though for the projects you charge for. That is a two fold problem. Number one, once you realize you have experience and you are way undercharging, it will be difficult for you to charge what the market is, and second, every time a newbie undercharges, it does not help the profession. It's better to offer your services pro-bono for non-profits or even for a company to get your foot in the door, but for a certain period of time, say 1 month and in return, if the client is satisfied, they will recommend you or at least write a good review for you.

Don't fall in love with your translations along the way. You will get critiqued, take it for what it is worth, defend when you are right, say thank you when you are wrong

And always remember, you are a professional.

Good luck to you!!

Michèle


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:12
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Some thoughts Sep 7, 2017

To add to Michèle's good advice:

michelelemieux wrote:
look here at Proz, Translatorscafé, apply, apply, apply. Someone will give you a chance eventually and you will get started.

Paying members have much more chance of landing jobs, due to both increased visibility and extra credibility. TBH, a lot of jobs are advertised on both platforms so I doubt there's much point paying for both as you really need to invest time and energy as well. Here on ProZ.com KudoZ points are vital, for example. Check out the Site Guidance Centre and attend the next (free!) Meeting Clients webinar to get your profile up to scratch. By all means register on the general freelancing sites, but bear in mind that they're more for people translating as a hobby or a sideline. Some will say the same is true of this site, but serious clients come to ProZ.com too and there's a very professional side to the site, with in-person conferences, training courses, etc.

My second word of advice is to start with emergencies. Often, once we have experience, we don't have time or we just don't feel like working nights and weekends anymore, we tend to choose our projects. So last minute projects can be a little more open to people with less experience.

I certainly advise you to make yourself available at all 'unsocial' times - I often turn down jobs on Fri for delivery Sun/Mon even if they're short, and I'm sure many others do too. But do be careful about translating in a panic situation. You need to check out every new client (see the Risk Management Wikis and the Scam Centre) and you need contingency - lots at first!

Just be careful to not skimp on fees

You should charge a similar per-word rate to more experienced translators if you're determined to deliver as good a translation - as you should be. You can get a good idea of average rates from the Community Rates tool here. You'll earn a low rate per hour to start with as you'll spend more time checking terms and proofreading your work. Don't let agencies bully you with "all our translators are happy with half that" - they're probably relying on hobby/sideline translators. You can't beat them on price so stick to your rate and go for the quality end of the market. The other lot are going to lose their jobs to MT anyway.


What else is there? I'd say you need to study all you can about running a (very) small business, if they aren't teaching that at uni. You'll need to do a lot of marketing, and a bit of polish goes a long way in that area. Your CV will need work - there's a Wiki here for that too. Sort out business cards, website, maybe a blog, and get active on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and/or anywhere else that might get you noticed and maybe bring you work. You also need to learn how to keep your accounts straight and legal and negotiate deals, know how/when to say no, chase payments, etc. Chambers of Commerce can often help with training.

So, lots to do other than waiting desperately for the work to flood in. Remember it's normal not to even receive a response from 9 out of 10 approaches. And an agency client that seems interested may not actually give you work for many months. Don't let them waste too much of your time stringing you along - the time to give them your undivided attention is when they actually have a job and they're willing to agree to your T&C.


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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:12
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
trade fairs Sep 7, 2017

Another thing I recommend is going to trade fairs. I specialise in textiles, I have a friend who designs textiles and he gives me a free ticket to textile trade fairs he goes to in and around Paris. I get to enjoy the trade fair and I leave my business card with exhibitors who need their documentation translated.

The first time I did it, I was really frightened. What, introvert little me, going along to MEET people and persuade them to give me work? So I decided to just do it for fun. Turned out, the most important thing is to get the potential client to talk about their products (and that's what they're there for, they're people who enjoy talking to people who show an interest). Like many introverts, I'm a pretty good listener, so that came naturally to me. Then you mention that you are a translator and can help with the international side of their business. And it so happens that you are specialised in their line of business. Most important thing: make sure your business cards are easily reached in your bag, so you can hand one over smoothly!


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Getting work with little experience

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