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Poll: What did you do before starting your career as a translator/interpreter?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 11:00
Aug 24, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What did you do before starting your career as a translator/interpreter?".

This poll was originally submitted by Heather McCrae. View the poll results »


Heather McCrae  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:00
German to English
Just to kick things off: Aug 24, 2013

I used to be a contorsionist (one of those bendy people!) and travelled around Europe (and a few other places) with my parents in a caravan until I was 24.
I then "retired" and floated around doing various "normal" jobs in places like Switzerland and Greece until I was 29, at which point I decided to become a studenticon_smile.gif.
6 years later, I set up camp in a mobile home in my parent's garden and started my translation career.


Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:00
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Studied language/translation Aug 24, 2013

Sort of...

Got a B.A. (Hons) degree in Japanese after four years of study at SOAS, London University. Came to Japan and taught English as a TEFL teacher with a preparatory RSA while improving on the Japanese I already knew and then moved to where my girlfriend (present wifey) was and started plodding the streets (literally!) and visiting all the translation companies in the Yellow Pages (not too many 31 years ago) armed with my CV.

Boy, do I have a few stories to tell: icon_rolleyes.gif

Not quite the answer in the title but close enough

I have a fridge full of nicely chilled Chardonnay, bubbly and other white alcoholic beverages to crack open. Which will it be tonight? icon_biggrin.gif


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:00
Spanish to English
+ ...
Another (related) field Aug 24, 2013



Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:00
+ ...
Wrote, edited and proofread English texts Aug 24, 2013

and continue to do so, as well as translating Dutch to English.


Manescu Alexandra  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:00
Romanian to English
+ ...
again a combination Aug 24, 2013

Joe Doe wrote:

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What did you do before starting your career as a translator/interpreter?".

This poll was originally submitted by Heather McCrae. View the poll results »

Before a starter I worked in a factory, after that I worked as a private/personal translator for Italian companies, after that I studied English and Romanian in faculty, after that master course, and worked in mean time as translator for English Romanian pair, a while I was tutor for kids of different ages, offering them English classes (in private mood).

[Edited at 2013-08-24 10:03 GMT]


Teresa Borges
Local time: 19:00
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Different field(s)... Aug 24, 2013

My career before starting working as a translator (part-time for a few years followed by 20 years as full-time in-house translator and reviser), though not as colourful and varied as Heather’s, was very diverse: civil servant, senior secretary, hotel manager, junior director, account executive, public relations officer, vocational trainer (that’s just to name a few of the jobs!). I do not regret at all this intricate weaving as it gave me a valuable insight of different areas of business.


tilak raj  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:30
Member (2012)
English to Panjabi
+ ...
Worked in Different Field Aug 24, 2013

I did but after it I worked as SEO expert, mostly I used odesk as my freelancing SEO work but I had keen interest in translation. I had to think about translation when my SEO work was on downfall. I tried a lot but that time I could not establish as a translator. But After sometimes, I adopted this career which has proved good for me. I started translation and never think to change my mind. Because I am satisfied with my performance and scenario of my business as a freelancer.


Filipa Plant dos Santos  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:00
Member (2011)
Portuguese to English
Heather Wins! Aug 24, 2013

OK - no competition is possible after an opening bid like that!!

I started off as a production assistant in a textile factory, a job I got after moving to Portugal from the UK after studying textiles in London, and worked in textiles for a few years before retraining as a TEFL teacher, and going to work for my husband's school.

Every so often a translation job would turn up, which I would do, and soon realised that I liked it better than the teaching, and then eventually after having children, realised that it was the PERFECT job to fit in around school pick ups and drop offs etc.

I did get the IOL Dip a while ago in order to have some sort of qualification to wave at people, and it has been helpful in getting work with agencies and people who don't know me.

That's it! boring, I know!!


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:00
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
All of the above Aug 24, 2013

I grew up with languages - spending my early childhood in India, where my father, among many other things, was a bible translator, and my mother, also among many other things, taught a little English and served as a sounding board for my father's work. He also taught, and carried on working at a textbook for teaching Greek to speakers of Marathi when we returned to the UK.

At school in the UK I was reasonably good at languages, but could not imagine what I would do with them - I wanted to read medicine. Not getting in to medical school led to attempts at other things - proof reading at a printer's, a disastrous year as a teacher's assistant, health problems, and finally a BSc in Information Science, which I explain now as technical librarianship. Before the Internet, people went to libraries if they needed to know the kind of thing you now find on Wikipedia and all sorts of databases...

Then I ended up in Denmark, and unemployed librarians were almost two a penny, so I served as caretaker for the flats where we lived, minded children worked in the home-care service and at a factory, while working my way up the Danish education system at night school.

I had a diploma in French and part of one in German (Languages for business working to and from Danish to French and German), but was getting desperate for a permanent job when I landed one in-house with a translation agency fifteen years ago.

In practice I was looking for a way to use my English! But the business school would not recognise my education from the UK, although my employer picked up on it at once.

They sponsored my postgraduate diploma with another business school, and I had finally found my niche! We parted company as friends ten years ago, and I have been freelancing ever since.


keelin feeney  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:00
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other profession Aug 24, 2013

I was working in finance in Ireland for some years after doing a language degree before I moved out to Spain and started TEFL. I got into translation work quite quickly after that.


Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Pretty flexible myself Aug 24, 2013

It was while working on location as a stuntman on the Bond movies shortly after leaving the SAS that I discovered my love of sitting in front of a PC all weekend regurgitating the inconsequential ramblings of morons in the lingua franca of a non-existent readership

Jaded? Me?!

[Edited at 2013-08-24 12:32 GMT]


Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:00
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Career changes Aug 24, 2013

Office work

The first two while living in Europe, the third after relocating to the US.


S E (X)
Local time: 20:00
Italian to English
Other profession Aug 24, 2013

After graduating in Philosophy, I worked for an artisan candle company for awhile north of Seattle, then moved to Boston to study Studio Art, where I also worked at the Museum of Fine Arts.
Then I moved to Chicago for an MA in Humanities and Art History, where I also worked at the University Art Museum.
Then I moved to New Haven CT, for a PhD in History of Art.
On completing the PhD (in Italian Renaissance art), I explored various career options that would allow me to use my background and training while based in Italy. Art translation won hands down. And here I am today!


Yulia Tsybysheva BA MSc MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:00
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
A somewhat winding road Aug 24, 2013

Back in Russia I studied languages and translation and worked as a translator for a few years. After working in-house at a major consultancy I thought I had enough of translation and the corporate world and was going to enrol on a distance learning MSc in Sustainable Development to help saving the world (or so I thought) and was suddenly laid off when the crisis struck anyway.
I was doing my course and continued taking on freelance work and doing some project work in the environmental sector.
Then my partner and I moved to the UK where I tried hard to find a paid job in the sustainability sector, but that never happened, so I'm back to freelance translation (and occasionally teaching Russian).
Looking back I think that my environmental degree was an odd detour (and a bit difficult to explain on the CV) and I probably should have done a Masters in translation or languages, but at that point I just couldn't bear the thought of it.

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