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Routes into translation. Part three – Berni

May 17, 2018

Although I write posts for the AST blog, my main role in the company is that of in-house translator. To cap off our ‘Routes into translation’ series, I will be sharing with you how I got here and my tips for getting into the industry for anyone with their eye on a career in translation. If you missed our last post, you can find it here.

I was lucky to know exactly what I wanted to do after graduating. The translation we did at university had piqued my interest and I made it my mission to get into the industry as soon as I could after uni. I sent a speculative application to AST in November 2015 and started later that month as a project management and translation intern. A little over a month later, I was asked to stay on full-time as a project manager and continued to do the odd translation too. I enjoyed project management immensely but, undeterred from pursuing my goal to become a translator, I applied to do a part-time Master’s in Translation at the University of Nottingham. Seeing how many of our in-house translators and freelancers had an MA in Translation, I was convinced I needed to get one for myself. When I started my MA in October 2016, I hung up my PM hat in favour of a place on the translator’s team at AST and have been juggling my dream job and my studies since then.

Although I was impatient to start training as a translator, I wouldn’t trade my PM experience for anything. It’s definitely helped me to become a better translator because I know how to process jobs from start to finish and, having had so much contact with clients before, I can prioritise their needs easily now.

What I like most about my job is the fact I’m producing a tangible product and am constantly learning new words and facts from my translations. I thrive under pressure which means I can turn the stress of fast approaching deadlines into productivity. I can’t imagine working as a freelancer because I still have so much to learn from the experience of my amazing colleagues. Working in-house gives you a support network that allows you to constantly improve and working in a smaller company means you can assume many roles, try your hand at lots of different texts and choose your specialisms, which prevents you from stagnating.

Being a translator is mentally demanding and you have to be able to thrive under pressure. You have to have an excellent grasp of your native language as well as your foreign language(s), but you’ll learn lots more about both as you gain more experience in your career. It’s important to be able to focus on one thing for long periods of time and have the patience to find the right solution for tricky translation problems. Research skills are invaluable because you never know what you’ll be writing about and often need to understand the context of a text, which isn’t always evident from what’s written on the page.

My top tips: get as much experience as you can with internships and mentoring schemes so you know you definitely like the job. Be willing to pick up new skills and break bad habits and don’t be afraid to ask for help, aim for continuous improvement. Assess whether an MA in Translation is right for you or whether there are other opportunities to learn on the job. Be tenacious in applying for jobs and if at first you don’t succeed, try try again!

Bernadette Roach

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