Expanding into interpreting - a good idea?
Thread poster: satranslations

satranslations
Local time: 05:47
English to German
Feb 11, 2008

Hi, I have been working as a freelance translator for nearly 3 years after giving up a full time job in business. Although I really love the independence, autonomy (no boss breathing up my neck), freedom (I can take time off whenever I like), not having to deal with all the office politics I used to have when I was working as an employee and, of course, translation work itself, I still haven't got used to the irregular work load and time: working either until midnight or just 2 hours a day. On the one hand, I dread the 16 hour shifts when everything else needs to be put on hold to meet deadlines and, on the other, I find the slow periods frustrating as I don't really feel free to relax as I have to be ready anytime to start immediately with a translation job if an offer comes in. So when work has dried up, I don't go out to enjoy nice leisure activities (most of the things I enjoy are outdoor activities, like running, hiking, going to the gym, going to classes) but stay stuck in the home doing the housework, accounting etc (which, of course need to be done too and it's good to have the time to do it, but it's not very inspiring) or wasting time surfing the internet. So I do feel stuck in the home too much and not knowing much in advance if I will have total stress or twiggling my thumbs for work to come in drives me mad sometimes. I therefore wondered if turning to interpreting would be a solution as you are booked in advance, so you don't have to "jump into action" immediately once the phone rings and therefore there is a clearer line between your time "off" and when you are on an assinment making it easier to organise and work with your time and you get out of the house and meet people.

I must admit I do not know much about what it is like to work as an interpreter and maybe I am hopelessly naive. Therefore I ask you for your opinion and enlighten me. Maybe the solution to my problem even lies elsewhere?


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Pavel Janoušek  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 06:47
Member (2007)
German to Czech
+ ...
I don't think so Feb 11, 2008

I used to combine teaching and translating for the same reason you mention. It worked quite well at the beginning. I was happy to have a job I had to do on o regular base (every morning except on Fridays). It was also a regular income for me that I could always count on. But later I noticed that I was unable to get more translation jobs because I simply was unavailable for a lot of them. So I started reducing the number of classes until I found myself to be a 100% translator. And I know now that it was the right decision.

So my suggestion is: Do something that helps you overcome the idle periods if you can't get used to them and simply relax or do nothing. But you should do something that you can put off until later when an urgent or interesting translation job comes in. Otherwise, you'll end up refusing either translation or interpretation jobs. And I'm not sure if that will make you happy.

Perhaps it may work, to some extent, the other way round - if you're an interpreter and want to do some translation jobs just to do something different or earn more money or whatever.

Also, the longer you are in the business, the less idle time you have. Be positive!

Pavel


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alesandro7
German to Spanish
It´s the nature of the job Feb 11, 2008

Hello,

I´ve been working as a translator (german-spanish) for 7 years now and I can confirm what you write. Interpreting could be a certain advantage if you manage to negotiate a reasonable fee per hour. I personally find it an easier way of getting an income, but I assume it would be not easy to concentrate just on that.
best regards

alesandro@ozu.es





satranslations wrote:

Hi, I have been working as a freelance translator for nearly 3 years after giving up a full time job in business. Although I really love the independence, autonomy (no boss breathing up my neck), freedom (I can take time off whenever I like), not having to deal with all the office politics I used to have when I was working as an employee and, of course, translation work itself, I still haven't got used to the irregular work load and time: working either until midnight or just 2 hours a day. On the one hand, I dread the 16 hour shifts when everything else needs to be put on hold to meet deadlines and, on the other, I find the slow periods frustrating as I don't really feel free to relax as I have to be ready anytime to start immediately with a translation job if an offer comes in. So when work has dried up, I don't go out to enjoy nice leisure activities (most of the things I enjoy are outdoor activities, like running, hiking, going to the gym, going to classes) but stay stuck in the home doing the housework, accounting etc (which, of course need to be done too and it's good to have the time to do it, but it's not very inspiring) or wasting time surfing the internet. So I do feel stuck in the home too much and not knowing much in advance if I will have total stress or twiggling my thumbs for work to come in drives me mad sometimes. I therefore wondered if turning to interpreting would be a solution as you are booked in advance, so you don't have to "jump into action" immediately once the phone rings and therefore there is a clearer line between your time "off" and when you are on an assinment making it easier to organise and work with your time and you get out of the house and meet people.

I must admit I do not know much about what it is like to work as an interpreter and maybe I am hopelessly naive. Therefore I ask you for your opinion and enlighten me. Maybe the solution to my problem even lies elsewhere?


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:47
German to English
+ ...
Different skill Feb 11, 2008

Interpreting is a completely different skill - are you a trained interpreter? If not, I'd consider getting some training or setting up a relationship with a mentor before jumping right in.

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satranslations
Local time: 05:47
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Yes sure Feb 11, 2008

Daina Jauntirans wrote:

Interpreting is a completely different skill - are you a trained interpreter? If not, I'd consider getting some training or setting up a relationship with a mentor before jumping right in.


Sorry I forgot to mention it earlier, but I didn't intent to jump straight into interpreting. I would train up first, of course. Also to see if it is really my cup of tea


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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 07:47
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
Streamlining the working process Feb 11, 2008

Interpreting is a good change and addition indeed. But it's really quite difficult to mix the two - these are different skills and often, interpretation assignments interfere with translation and vice versa.

Ups and downs are an integral part of freelancing, and it's basically a matter of attitude - to get annoyed because of the irregularity or just use the idle spells to do things you've been postponing for exactly these occasions!

Besides, you can always adjust your workload. I noticed that many rush jobs are often not so rush - that is, clients often want the job done right away, but when I'm not immediately awailable (or ask for a rush rate) they pause (presumably contacting their customers) and come back with "Oh well, the deadline has been posponed for X days so take your time!" Try it, and your working schedule will become more regular.

Cheers,
Oleg


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Marcus Geibel
Germany
Local time: 06:47
English to German
A totally different cup of tea.... Feb 11, 2008

As I am both a graduated interpreter and translator I can only support what has been said above: interpreting is a totally different thing requiring VERY different skills beyond pure language skills

To get an impression, read the following (from a recent post in this forum):
http://education.guardian.co.uk/egweekly/story/0,,2248180,00.html

Regards
Marcus


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Cilian O'Tuama  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:47
German to English
+ ...
Chalk & Cheese Feb 11, 2008

Marcus Geibel (mgvie) wrote:

As I am both a graduated interpreter and translator...



Despite the fact that I am neither a graduated interpreter nor translator, I did "become" a translator.

I'd imagine "becoming" an interpreter is a completely different ball game.

I have to take my hat off to (professional, conference) interpreters!
After much persuasion, I was talked into trying it too (headsetµ, separate cabin, 8 people taking simultaneously) audience with zero understanding of source language...).

Talk about begging for stomach ulcers!
Cilian


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satranslations
Local time: 05:47
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Feb 12, 2008

Thanks for all your valuable comments. They helped me a lot.

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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:47
German to English
+ ...
That's good! Feb 12, 2008

satranslations wrote:

Daina Jauntirans wrote:

Interpreting is a completely different skill - are you a trained interpreter? If not, I'd consider getting some training or setting up a relationship with a mentor before jumping right in.


Sorry I forgot to mention it earlier, but I didn't intent to jump straight into interpreting. I would train up first, of course. Also to see if it is really my cup of tea


That's good - just making sure!


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:47
English to Hungarian
+ ...
That is the life of an interpreter Feb 14, 2008

satranslations wrote:
....irregular work load and time...
...everything else needs to be put on hold... and the frustrating slow periods as I don't really feel free to relax as I have to be ready anytime to start immediately.... if an offer comes in.
...I will have total stress or twiggling my thumbs for work to come in drives me mad sometimes.


That is the life of an interpreter. Moreover, sometimes you
have to "jump into action" immediately once the phone rings

and instead of sitting down to your computer in your pyjamas, get yourself presentable, travel to places you may not particularly want to go in the pouring rain in the middle of the rush hour, not necessarily knowing when you are coming back.

Sometimes it is like that:
...you are booked in advance and therefore there is a clearer line between your time "off" and when you are on an assinment making it easier to organise and work with your time and you get out of the house and meet people.

but you would be unlikely to fill in your diary this way.


I must admit I do not know much about what it is like to work as an interpreter and maybe I am hopelessly naive.


I don't want to discourage you totally, but yes, it is a bit naive to think that it is all pre-arranged and cosy.
If you like doing it, it is fine. Give yourself a chance to see if it suits you or not.


[Edited at 2008-02-14 23:03]


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Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:47
Spanish to English
+ ...
I like the mix Feb 15, 2008

I do both and I like the mix. The good thing about interpreting is that it is usually arranged a week or more in advance so you can arrange your work. The pay is also very good. There are occasionally rush interpreting jobs but you just have to turn those ones down. It gets you out and about and meeting people.

I started my training to be an interpreter when I hadn't yet translated, and I found it very difficult. Then I translated for a few years and decided to do a second course in interpreting and found it much easier. While translating and interpreting are different skills I think that translating is a very good base for interpreting because when you interpret you have to deal with a lot of terminology and a lot of times you are already familiar with it from translations you have done in the past, the same goes for sentences structures, I sometimes know what the speaker is going to say before s/he says it.

But it could be just me because a lot of interpreters train by sightreading; this has been a byproduct of translating for me. So much so that I have a hard time sightreading from my native language to my second language simply because I can't absorb the information as well, due to a lack of practice but I can interprete in that direction no problem. Well anyway, this may or may not make any sense to you. The only way you'll know is if you try. You'll need to train for an extended period if you want to be a good interpreter.


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sophia923
Local time: 13:47
English to Chinese
+ ...
thanks-your idea gives me much thought Feb 18, 2008

"I really love the independence, autonomy (no boss breathing up my neck), freedom (I can take time off whenever I like), not having to deal with all the office politics I used to have when I was working as an employee"

what u've mentioned above seems very attractive to me, as i am working as an employee in a big company now. i graduated as a English major two years ago, however, i gave up the chance to be any translator or interpreter and chose to enter into a totally new field - fast moving consumer goods, which means sales and marketing. therefore, what i have learnt in college finds no chance to serve my job now. it is really a pity for me not to using english to work and communicate. a decision for change is really hard to make, but i have to think about it. am i right?


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Kai Cao  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:47
English to Chinese
+ ...
it depends Apr 8, 2008

I am also a freelance translator, several months ago I quit my in-house translation job in a consulting business. At first, the irregularities really annoys me, but now everthing is OK. The trick is your time management. Freelance jobs often come with ups and downs in business volumn, but you can just do whatever you want, talking with friends on skype, for example:) Do not worry, manage your time, manage your emotion and control your stress. It is all about attitude. Try it out, good luck.

P.S. I am from China, want to make friends with you guys. If you have free time, we can share ideas and talk a little bit. That will be fun:)

My skype: kenney20081


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