Should I contact agencies at this point?
Thread poster: Sergio Romero Caballero

Sergio Romero Caballero  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:26
English to Spanish
Aug 10, 2006

Hi!

I would like to know if it would be a good idea to apply for agencies when you have less than 1 year of experience. I feel that I'll be losing my time since I think it would be better to devote oneself to look for direct clients and make some volunteer job at this point.

The thing is that I am very lucky to have the professional revision of a medical doctor --my girlfriend-- in every translation concerning the medical field, which I love. Do you think this could make a difference for agencies or publishing houses (I have experience working for one but I think it wouldn't be enough)? Should I wait till I finish my postgraduate course in medical translation next year?

I think I could make a good job when dealing with health topics. I don't say medicine because I think it takes time to claim oneself to be specialized in this area... which, by the way, all people seem to be specialized in (maybe they know how to sell their services better than I do).

It is just that I would like to be doing the right thing, according to your experience, and focuse my efforts and time in what could be more beneficial at this point of my career. Now I earn my living mostly thanks to private lessons, but I'd prefer this to change and get more translation work.

Thanks in advance.

Regards,
Sergio


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Niina Lahokoski  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 18:26
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Trying doesn't cost anything Aug 11, 2006

Hi Sergio!

I personally think it is quite a good way to start with agencies, as they do all the client-finding for you and also because with agencies you will be more likely to get experience in various fields. You don't lose anything by contacting agencies! You don't have to accept anything they offer, if you are not interested.

I have been in business for almost two years now, and all my client are agencies. I believe that you would need to have quite a many direct clients to be able to work full-time. I might be wrong, though, as I have just been too "lazy" to look for direct clients.


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biankonera  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 18:26
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
try for both Aug 11, 2006

Hello Sergio!

Id say you can try both options - contact agencies AND direct clients. At least that way it worked for me and you dont lose anything at all this way. And from the answers you get you can chose the offers you like the most.
These things do take time - which is the biggest investment in this process Id say - as well as patience and even courage (due to the rejections and other things).

I wish you the very best of luck!!!


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Erika Pavelka  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:26
French to English
Absolutely! Aug 11, 2006

I think you'd have more luck getting jobs from agencies than from direct clients with less than 1 year of experience. When I first started out in the business, I called every translation agency in Canada that I found in the Yellow Pages and sent my resume to those that were interested. It took a while, but work slowly started coming in.

Decide the geographical area you want to concentrate on, find agencies using the Internet and phone book and call. Talk to a specific person. Emphasize that you do medical and have a physician as a revisor. This will probably pique their interest.

Good luck!


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Sergio Romero Caballero  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:26
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Aug 11, 2006

Thanks Niina, bramasole and Erika. Now I see things a bit less difficult.

Maybe what I need is more patience. Anyway, I only wrote to a few agencies. The problem is that I'm too perfectionist and it takes me a lot of time writing mails to potential customers (investigating, thinking how to present my offer, what would they need...). So I didn't know if I should include agencies in my target list, thinking it was almost impossible to get work from them in my situation. Maybe it sounds silly, but I really appreciate my time.

So, thanks again for throwing some light on my doubts. Stay well!


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Refugio
Local time: 08:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
A few questions Aug 12, 2006

If your girlfriend does professional revisions for you in the medical field, then the two of you are working as a team. You imply that you might not feel yourself fully qualified without such a resource in place. So my question is, are you planning to keep and consider your own all the extra money you can earn with the value added by her time and professional expertise? Is this respectful of her contribution or are you in some sense using or exploiting her? Many translators exchange such services and thus can feel they are pulling their own weight. If not, maybe you are right in thinking you should wait until you finish your course in medical translation before looking for direct clients and charging fees based on someone else's qualifications. Even if she is willing to do it, there are other considerations involved.

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Sergio Romero Caballero  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:26
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
A few answers... Aug 12, 2006

Hi Ruth,

Ruth Henderson wrote:

If your girlfriend does professional revisions for you in the medical field, then the two of you are working as a team.


Yes. I use to offer my services saying we are a team.

You imply that you might not feel yourself fully qualified without such a resource in place. So my question is, are you planning to keep and consider your own all the extra money you can earn with the value added by her time and professional expertise? Is this respectful of her contribution or are you in some sense using or exploiting her? Many translators exchange such services and thus can feel they are pulling their own weight. If not, maybe you are right in thinking you should wait until you finish your course in medical translation before looking for direct clients and charging fees based on someone else's qualifications. Even if she is willing to do it, there are other considerations involved.


Believe me, I would never accept to translate any text beyond my possibilities, expecting my girlfriend to get me out of trouble. It's almost a year that I've been studying medicine in my spare time, translating, etc. I could deal with some topics perfectly well, others are beyond my possibilities. I just said that it would be unfair to say that I am specialized in medicine at this point (probably it will take me years!).

I translate and do all the linguistic work and deal with the terminology by myself. Then she reviews the final product. Many translators who are willing to specialize in an specific field get their work revised by an expert. They will feel more and more capable to deal with a specialty until the moment they can do it by themselves and this is what I am doing. Another different story would be to accept translating texts which you are a completely ignorant about, and expecting others to save your life.

Exploiting her... well... I don't see your point. We both get money for doing this job, and as I already said, I would never rely in her qualifications to accept a translation. In fact, she's the one who feels she's exploiting me when I help her with English!

Cheers!


[Editado a las 2006-08-12 14:40]


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Birgit Wahl  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:26
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Go ahead! Aug 18, 2006

Dear Sergio,

Your story reminds me of my start as a medical translator 11 years ago. I had just graduated from university where I emphasised on medical translation (English/Spanish/German) and now wondered where to get my first jobs.

This is what I did: I contacted translation agencies all over Germany and some time later (well, it took several months, to be honest) the first assignments arrived. Sure, agencies generally pay less than direct clients, but they do the negotiating (and any necessary client education) for you so at least for the beginning it's absolutely worth it.

Later, if you feel more confident about your translation abilities it will be easier to contact direct clients and negotiate prices with them.

The second thing I did was an ad in the local yellow pages. I still have it and although it is quite expensive it is (for me at least) worth every single Euro. Some of my regular direct clients found me through this ad!

One word concerning medical expertise: I've translated medical texts for more than 11 years now and still don't know everything about all medical specialties. I know I never will. But with the linguistic basics in my working languages English and German and the endless source of information on the web I am sure that I can work myself into every field of medicine when required.

So, good luck and be confident. Go ahead!

Best wishes,
Birgit


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