Help a newbie get started
Thread poster: João Carrasqueira

João Carrasqueira
Local time: 04:03
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Oct 7, 2017

Hello everyone!

My name is João Carrasqueira, I'm 21 years old and I'm from Portugal. I completed a college degree in Administrative Assistance and Translation last year from Instituto Superior de Contabilidade e Administração do Porto, a portuguese institute. Having struggled financially to finish said degree, I decided to not pursue my translation career right away as freelance translating requires a significant investment, so for the past year I've been working a "run-of-the-mill" job.

But now I'm ready to start taking the first steps in this world. However, I'm completely lost in almost every sense of the word. Freelance work is very intimidating, I'm not sure where to get started or how much I should charge for my work or what kind of jobs I should take.

I do know that I'm extremely passionate about computer technology (including software) and videogames, and I would love to work in those fields. However, I still don't know how to get there. I really need some help getting started, as I'm completely clueless right now. I also would prefer not making significant investments right now, as it still might be a bit of a stretch. If necessary, I would consider sharing some of the profit from my initial jobs in exchange for the guidance I'm looking for.

Additionally, though this may be a minor issue in comparison, I think it would be especially beneficial to get help from someone else who lives/works in Portugal, as I also feel unsure about the tax system for freelance workers.

Thank you in advance!


Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:03
German to English
Watch out for scams Oct 7, 2017

I don't think I could give you any practical career advice.
I would suggest, however, that you take a look at the Scams forum to see what you need to watch out for:

Fifteen minutes reading through the various entries will potentially save you hours of grief.


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:03
Member (2007)
+ ...
CCI? Oct 7, 2017

Kevin's advice is spot on. You're in a vulnerable position right now so a tempting target for scammers. Aside from the Scam Centre here, there's loads more information available from this site, both in this forum and in the Site Guidance Centre.

You really do need to check out the formalities of running a business in your area. I know that Chambers of Commerce and Industry often have advisors available and training programmes, so maybe that should be your next stop.


TatianaKary  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 11:03
Member (2017)
English to Russian
+ ...
Mentoring Oct 8, 2017

Here on the site there is a mentoring program. I have applied to a very good mentor who helped me with the questions you are asking. Why not take advantage of it. You can apply to diferent mentors.


Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:03
English to Spanish
+ ...
What makes you think of a career in translation after all? Oct 8, 2017


How many years does your college degree cover? Three, four? I doubt it was four since it's a title or diploma with two opposite choices: administrative assistance (general office work) and translation (a different discipline). I'm making the following assumptions to give you some advice: you're 21 and you spent a lot of effort, money and energy on a 3-year college degree (after all, it's not a university but an instituto or a tertiary education institution). I'm also assuming that you took the courses in the hopes of becoming a translator because the diploma would say “translation.”

I did visit the webpage of your institution: It is important to note that a licenciatura may mean different lengths of studies in different countries, with different educational systems. I'm not dismissing the value of such education. All I'm saying is that three years of university studies in two different fields is just one stepping stone that should be complemented with other stepping stones with more focus (if that's what you want to do).

So, I'm sorry to give you a dose of harsh reality, but you are not nearly prepared to work as a translator. Not even close. Even with a 4-year university degree (not necessarily in translation, linguistics, etc.), it takes the average person 4-6 years to accumulate enough work experience and knowledge to qualify as a professional translator, freelance or otherwise.

However, if you are still set on becoming a translator, here's some advice:

1) Identify, study and apply to local and regional translation agencies. Some of them offer paid or unpaid internships so that you can learn the inner workings of the agency and how the marketplace works. Agencies are also an excellent place to learn to work not just with translators but with correctors, proofreaders, interpreters and everyone else in the marketplace.

2) Read and write a lot (and I mean, not just the occasional magazine once a week) in the languages you're intending to work in. If you've been writing for pleasure for years (as in poetry, fiction, or writing for a student paper), share those writings along with your resume or CV. Remember that at 21 your resume is pretty thin and unimpressive, so you will need your writing strengths to compensate for lack of experience.

3) You can still take advantage of your 3-year degree by applying as a highly trained multilingual office worker. Some companies prefer that to a very experienced translator. I would call that an entry-level position for a translator but it can be the window of opportunity for you.

Finally, get ready to be disappointed and rejected. A lot. All the time. Even for us seasoned and highly experienced translators, rejection and temporary unemployment are never far away. There are no magic clients, no magic software or the translation equivalent of a lottery system to save you the occasional pain. After all, many young people go to a conservatory to study violin or piano or other instrument, but just a handful become virtuosi, very good at playing their instrument and live their dream of composing, playing in public and touring.

By the way, I visited Porto last year on my way to Aveiro University.


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