Where to get first job/client? no experience but have language degree
Thread poster: karenee (X)

karenee (X)
Local time: 09:27
French to English
+ ...
Dec 13, 2006

Hi, I have an undergraduate degree in French. I consider myself "near-fluent." I currently do sales for a translation/interpretation powerhouse in NYC. I took the job b/c I ulitmately want to freelance translate French to English. (however, my employer cannot know this!)

With just an undergraduate degree in French, where do I get my first job or client? Seems everyone wants a certiicate. I don't want to spend the money on NYU's certification program, I feel I'm capable of being really successful without it. How do you get ur foot in the door without any experience?

I am just so passionate about the French language, it's basically all I want to do!



Alexandre Coutu
Local time: 08:27
English to French
Seek other translators Dec 13, 2006

Try to establish contacts with other translators in the same pair (French to English) and explain that you want to gain experience. Hopefully, you will accept to work for low enough a rate that someone will send you a text and help you by correcting the text for you. You cannot start on your own, you need someone to revise your work first, until your translations are strong enough. I mean, I suppose you could start on your own, but I wouldn't advise it.

Most translators have a person (a mentor even) that guided them when they began. It's certainly my case.


Steven Sidore  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:27
Member (2003)
German to English
Read through this very forum Dec 13, 2006

Nice to hear you're passionate about your language, that's a big help in this business.

Your question has been posed many times and many ways in this very forum (Getting Established). Try reading through the archive, the advice contained there will point you in the right direction.

Good luck,



GoodWords  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
A place to start Dec 13, 2006

Here are some of the posts Steven alluded to:


Nema  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:27
English to Spanish
+ ...
NGOs Dec 13, 2006

Try NGOs

When I started studying translation, I had the opportunity to get experience working for NGO's. I was quite lucky, because the ones I worked for had proofreaders who checked my texts afterwards. Of course, you will not get a lot of money (some translations I did were absolutely for free), but it is a good way of learning how to deal with problems related to translation (not only linguistic ones, also regarding the pressure of deadlines, working from home...). Of course, this should be only for a start, but you can enhance your CV and even provide examples of the work you did if the NGO agrees with it.


Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:27
long road ahead... Dec 13, 2006

Indeed, there are a gazillion posts from other people who are/were in the position as you.

Did you study anything else apart from French, like law, history, computers or biology for example? To be really successful, you would have to offer some kind of non-language subject speciality, speaking a language fluently is not always enough.

Working for a translation agency is a great experience, I did it myself for a while. You learn LOADS.icon_wink.gif Besides, it is no harm to work in sales - you might find that you will end up translating French contracts / business documents on the strength of the experience you gained in your sales job. (happened to me after I had worked in IT & German support job).

Bonne chance,


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