Project management to translation: a possible career path?
Thread poster: Chiara Biagini
Chiara Biagini
Local time: 09:23
English to Italian
Jun 18, 2007

Hello everyone,

I'm quite new to the world of translation, and I am tring to break into it with little success (but I have onl just started).
While looking for work with translationa gencies I have been offered afew times jobs as project manager, ie managing relations between end-client and translators.
I really want to work as a translator so I've alwas declined, but I was thinking, maybe it might be a wa to make contacts? Has anyone ever started this way?

I'd reall like to know what others think about this.

Thanks in advance

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2007-06-18 14:37]

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Bilore  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:23
English to French
+ ...
It could be a good experience... Jun 18, 2007

Hello Clairemo,

When I started as a translator, I was offered to stand in for a PM assistant in an agency.

it really made me aware that this job wasn't for me but, on the other hand, I learnt a lot about the industry and it was surely a very useful experience for my strict translation practice afterwards.


[Edited at 2007-06-18 14:36]

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Livia D'Ettorre  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:23
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
My experience Jun 18, 2007


I worked for two years as an in-house translator and, of course, this was a wonderful opportunity for me to learn and I loved the job. However, since I had to travel for more than 4 hours a day and had a small child, I decided to look for another job and worked for a year as a project manager. I am now back to my "first love" and trying to establish myself as a freelance translator. I think working as a project manager could be a good experience for you. I am sure you would learn how to work with programmes that you wouldn't normally use, or at least not at the beginning of your career as a freelance translator. With regards to "making contacts" I am not so sure. It depends on what it says on your contract (Usually you are not allowed to get in touch with clients for x amount of years after you have left the company). Whatever you decide, I wish you all the best!



[Edited at 2007-06-18 14:38]

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Sergei Tumanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:23
English to Russian
+ ...
not a bad experience anyway Jun 18, 2007

for one thing it gives some steady income in the beginning of a professional careeer.

for another it is always useful to have a look at translators from 'enemy lines'. You will learn lot of useful things about what translator should not do to have success with agencies.

Last but not least, you will learn how the whole supply chain from a translator till the final client works. Respectfully you will not expect impossible things from any agency later in your freelance activity, if any. Also you will learn what agencies must do for translators when they work with freelancers. You will be able to say to any project manager, "stop this b///it, I worked as a project manager myself, I am on the ball!" You will be surprised to find out how it helps sometimes. :0)

[Edited at 2007-06-18 14:52]

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Chiara Biagini
Local time: 09:23
English to Italian
Thanks! Jun 18, 2007

Thank you for the replies, lots of food for thought, you said what I suspected anyway, but it's alwas good to hear it from a trusted source....

next time I'm offered this kind of job I might just say yes!!

Thanks a lot!

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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:23
Absolutely Jun 18, 2007

It really is no harm to try it. This kind of experience is no load to carry.

Before I went freelance, I was an assistant PM in a translation agency. This is what I had to do:

Proofread translations, familiarise myself with the clients' style, check translators' invoices, train people how to , call translators to check their availability for projects, interview over the phone, sift through CV applications, visited a client in Germany, prepare and send out texts to the translators, help translators with any terminology.

It was excellent training and it stood to me when I started working on the other side of the fence. A lot of freelancers haven't got a clue about general business side of translation when they start out, but having worked as a PM, I was already familiar with that and knew how to promote myself.

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Nicole Martin
Local time: 03:23
German to English
It can lead to other things and teach you valuable skills Jun 19, 2007

When I finished college, I really wanted to be a translator, but I needed steady income as soon as possible and couldn't afford to start building myself up as a freelancer. Also, though I had a good education in German and had taken translation courses, I really didn't know anything about the business of translation. I sent my resumé to a number of translation agencies, hoping for some kind of response. I end up getting a job as a project manager at one of them.

Ultimately, it wasn't the job for me. There was a high level of stress, but beyond that, I had little opportunity to do translation or proofreading or put my degree in German to use the way I wanted to. But, a number of good things came from that job. For one thing, it did help me to learn how translation works in the "real world", beyond assignments in class. I got to see what clients and freelancers need and expect and how to work with them. I also learned how to work with CAT tools, which has proven invaluable.

I now work full-time as an in-house translator at an automotive company. I'm really happy here, not just because it's a good working environment, but because I get to do what I really wanted and I don't feel like I'm wasting my degree.

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Prima Vista
Russian Federation
Local time: 12:23
Russian to English
+ ...
A career path? I personally doubt it. Jun 26, 2007

Dear Clairemo,

I work as a PM. Everything that have been said here about the positive points of having such an experience is true indeed. So I am not going to repeat it.
Though I recommend you to read this article
It gives a good outline of what you are going to face when working as a PM.

However, I would not say that it is a CEREER path. Basically, it has 3 stages max: assistant PM, PM and senior PM of the agency. For our agnecy, it is only the 1st and the 2nd. That 3rd position is occupied by the owner himself so it is impossible to be reached.

Dependig on the circumctances, the first two stages can be covered within a year or two. And then? Then it gradually becomes plain boring (at least, it did for me).

And one more point. Languale skills... They are very easy to be lost. One year without practising translation and the language regularly, and 50% is gone. Now I feel that I am a better proofreader than a translator. So be ready to "maintain" your foreign language by reading, watching movies, etc. on a regular basis.

Besr wishes,

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