Off topic: hazards of the profession
Thread poster: foghorn

foghorn
English to Turkish
+ ...
Apr 30, 2009

Hi everyone,

i’m working at a small translation office and there are no other in-house translators. Large bulk of the work is given to freelancers who are rotated on a very often unfair and arbitrary basis. Almost all the time, everything is rushed over and, because of that, there are many questions about quality. My work is very often interrupted and the excuse is always priority. While concentrated on some specific mechanism of a custom built vehicle, i’m asked to do some legal document or proofread an entirely different kind of text or perform on the phone to resolve a problem of some client about which i do not have a clue at all. i’ve been wondering if anyone of you has ever gone through such practices. i can report a number of professional hazards (like feeling dumb at the end of the day).
Before this awesome carrier, i was an average reader but now i cannot even enjoy a good piece of writing without shutting down the almost inhuman translation machine and i’m subject to vocabulary loss.

What would you suggest?

thank you.

foghorn


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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:46
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Quit? Apr 30, 2009

Sounds like a lousy place. I would look for another job or work freelance.
(By the way, your post is currently listed as "off topic," but it really isn't off topic. There might be a better forum to put it under, such as Trans. Business or whatever it's called.)

Good luck,
Susan


[Edited at 2009-04-30 17:03 GMT]


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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:46
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Quit? Apr 30, 2009

Sounds like a lousy place. I would look for another job or work freelance.
(By the way, your post is "off topic," but it really isn't off topic. There might be a better forum to put it under, such as Trans. Business or whatever it's called.)

Good luck,
Susan


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:46
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Welcome.... Apr 30, 2009

....to technical translation!

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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:46
Italian to English
+ ...
Quit Apr 30, 2009

I agree with Susan - it sounds soul-destroying. If you can afford, to, I'd resign immediately and try to make your way as a freelancer. If you can't afford to, then spend your free time building up other clients so you can leave as soon as possible.

Good luck!


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
dukes of hazards (aka soldiers of fortune) May 1, 2009

Hello foghorn, in brevi:
and there are no other in-house translators

So, it is very you who should be a price leader. If you think you are worth more then ask for even more. Quite often it does work.
Almost all the time, everything is rushed over

foghorn, have you ever heard about 'contracts' or 'high/double rates' ? Once I made a mistake not negotiating the rates in advance, but now - never more. They rush you? - ok, BUT 1) it will cost them, 2) you can (and like to) take that job for a good price, 3) redefined deadlines (if any) and 4) have some papers/documents signed etc.
and the excuse is always priority

Who decides? Just answer with confidence "I'm also sorry but until you pay for the job already done and bid a fair price for a new job I'm afraid I cannot accept your offer."
N.B. The point is you always must be ready to say 'no' and walk away.
or perform on the phone to resolve a problem

First, who has the problem - they? Cash please. Second, as interpreter and negotiator you rule their biz - and how much is it?
of some client about which i do not have a clue at all

Pretty bad for 1) you should know the potential Client/s and 2) you either don't care or don't want to know.
if anyone of you has ever gone through such practices

I'm sure that you are not the only - in a sense. There're people who do better or worse than you and there're those who feel better and worse than you too.
Some five years ago a younger brother of a friend of mine just graduated from the university and took a job as a part-time translator (~$250/mo). He had a car - so he also did a driver's job there, he was good at electronics - so he worked with soft- and hardware, and he had to process datasheets and negotiate with all key partners and also helped other people around... He worked there a year or so and when he learnt almost everything about the biz he was able to bootstrap his own company. He changed the things and became the best in his field - the one to be accounted of.

Who dares - wins. Cheers


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 01:46
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Adapt or get out of there May 1, 2009

What you describe here doesn't sound too outlandish to me, but it does sound like it rubs you the wrong way. If you can't or don't want to adapt to the style and pace of work there, you should obviously consider quitting.

This:
"While concentrated on some specific mechanism of a custom built vehicle, i’m asked to do some legal document or proofread an entirely different kind of text or perform on the phone to resolve a problem of some client about which i do not have a clue at all."

... is exactly what I'd expect in-house translators to do, and I work somewhat similarly as a freelancer. If you don't enjoy variety, don't become an in-house translator with a generalist agency...

By the way, DZiW, you completely misunderstood the original post. The poster clearly stated that they are in-house, i.e. employee.


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foghorn
English to Turkish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thank you all May 4, 2009

i had a quiet weekend, thinking about it all, i guess i’m gonna give my leave soon.

Again many thanks.

foghorn


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:46
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not a catastrophic situation really... May 4, 2009

FarkasAndras wrote:
What you describe here doesn't sound too outlandish to me, but it does sound like it rubs you the wrong way. If you can't or don't want to adapt to the style and pace of work there, you should obviously consider quitting.


I entirely agree with Farkas here. What you describe happens to every in-house translator in every agency or translation firm. If you find a job at some other agency, you will probably live the same experiences, as obviously end customers don't always have fixed plans and agencies must juggle priorities very often to try to please everyone if possible. That means that the person who actually does the work, i.e. you, will have to switch priorities very often.

And if you go freelance, you will live the same experience: you are bound to having more than one customer, and as customers need quick reactions to their needs, you will be forced to stop a job to do another, completely unrelated, more urgent one... on a daily basis.

Before quitting the job, and as you are determined to see changes or leave, I would schedule a review meeting with your bosses for an open and sincere discussion of your concerns and possible better ways of doing things. With some changes, you might still want to keep your job in these uncertain times!


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Sushan Harshe
India
Local time: 05:16
English to Hindi
+ ...
Don’t give up. Take it just as natural! May 4, 2009

In did this is a nice discussion. People are well aware about in-house job and they know the freelance job is also not free from uncertainty in scheduling. DZiW, Farkas, Tomás has discussed the in-house and freelance jobs in very good and positive manner.

I would like to suggest foghorn that,

Look at your job in a respective manner not as hazards one. Even if you work as a salesperson at a shop or departmental store, as a car mechanic, or even as a barber (and keep adding every, bla bla bla) you will experience the same uncertainty, rush hours, compromise to quality (and that all, over there). Where you gonna go to get things of your choice? You must learn to ‘understand’, the theory and practices of the field we work inn! Don’t give up. Take it just as natural.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:46
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Excellent, just excellent May 4, 2009

foghorn wrote:
Large bulk of the work is given to freelancers who are rotated on a very often unfair and arbitrary basis.


Unfair to you or unfair to them? This is not central to my reply below, but I'm just wondering who you think it is unfair to.

Almost all the time, everything is rushed over and, because of that, there are many questions about quality. My work is very often interrupted and the excuse is always priority. While concentrated on some specific mechanism of a custom built vehicle, I’m asked to do some legal document or proofread an entirely different kind of text or perform on the phone to resolve a problem of some client about which I do not have a clue at all.


Ahh, I miss those days. I used to work in the advertising department of a national daily newspaper. What you describe is pretty much what my day would look like (except that we were 5 translators, there was always enough work for 10, and we did not outsource anything to freelancers). And we had deadlines, but those bringing us work did not.

Trust me, it is an excellent situation to be in for learning how to think on your feet, how to prioritise and how to multitask. If you hate it, stick it out for another year to two. No translation school can teach you what you are learning now. In the mean time, do some freelance work on the side and build up a client base for the day you go fully freelance yourself.

Now I cannot even enjoy a good piece of writing without shutting down the almost inhuman translation machine, and I’m subject to vocabulary loss.


Soon you'll suffer other conditions too, but that's part of the job. You can go under, or you can learn to work smart. See if you can increase your use of electronic media (eg online dictionaries, CAT tools, etc). There are lots of free tools out there to give novel solutions to existing problems.


[Edited at 2009-05-04 12:34 GMT]


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Halil Ibrahim Tutuncuoglu "Бёcäטsع Լîfe's cômplicåtعd eñøugh"
Turkey
Local time: 02:46
Turkish to English
+ ...
yes unfortunately May 4, 2009

foghorn wrote:


i’m working at a small translation office and there are no other in-house translators. Large bulk of the work is given to freelancers who are rotated on a very often unfair and arbitrary basis. Almost all the time, everything is rushed over and, because of that, there are many questions about quality.



after a time you will get used to the speed but the hardest part is that you may have to work long hours . what i understand from the level of your English is that you can easily make book translations


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