I’m a translator. ASK ME HOW!

Sometimes I feel as though I’m wearing this pin.

I absolutely love being a translator, translating, and anything that has to do with languages, books… you get the idea. Like any professional translator, I am very proud of my collection of dictionaries –whether in print or electronic form—, which I’m always looking to expand. Although some of my readers/colleagues would disagree, I am also fond of my CAT tool, as well as other software I use for QA; or the time-tracking software I’ve been testing lately, ExactSpent , which I have found very useful but have also experienced some snags (I’m currently exchanging emails with the developers about this). I even rave about my business administration software, TO3000 , to which I shall dedicate a complete blog post in the future. Oh, and let’s not forget about My Precious: my new website that premiered in December, thanks to the hard work of yours truly and my amazing designer and fellow translator, Ángel Domínguez.

This brief summary of what I do and have been doing lately is to illustrate this is my full-time job, it is what I do for a living; it is my passion and I feel blessed for being able to do what I love and get paid for it. And it is for this very reason that I feel somewhat insulted when somebody (who speaks a foreign language), knowing what I do for a living, approaches me and says that:

  1. She sells beauty products but sales are down now, so was wondering how she could do some translating.
  2. He quit his job a while ago but the job hunting is not going as planned, so he wanted to know how he could work as an interpreter to earn some money while continuing to look for a job.
  3. “I have a friend who speaks (insert language here) and has been trying to work as a translator, but it doesn’t seem to be going so well. Any ideas what s/he could do?”.
  4. And my favorite: “So, what have you been doing lately? Did you get a job in Florida or are you still doing the translation thing [sic]?”

If you have not read my bio, here is an interesting piece of information: I did not graduate from college with a degree in translation. So, out of the three situations presented (let us forget about #4, please), I can understand #3. In fact, I have helped some translators get started and, again, because I love what I do, I believe in a free market, and that there is enough work for everybody here and elsewhere, I don’t mind sharing all I know about the business. If the person is willing to try and doing everything s/he can to succeed, why not help them?

I know there are hundreds of programs out there to help novice translators (whether novice at age 20 or 70). For example, there is the ATA Mentoring Program, or Leon Hunter’s mentoring program (in Spanish).

Now, with the other two situations I feel offended, because what I read between the lines is: anybody can do what you do, while they get a real job.

I know this all too well because that was exactly why I started as a translator: I was fresh out of college, waiting to land my first real job, and replied to a newspaper ad looking for audiovisual translators; company would provide free training for candidates who passed the test. However, at the end of the training course I had a newfound respect for translators and decided that was my true calling. Sadly, this is not the case for the vast majority of people who decide to “give translation a try”. Most just want the immediate benefit of some extra cash, but they do not want to invest in education, and certainly don’t care about being good at what they do. They do not see translation as a profession.

Just a few weeks ago, I was talking to somebody at a party and she was telling me her brother was trying really hard to get into the translation business, because he recently lost his job. Later in our conversation, when I mentioned I had a full-time nanny for my daughter because of my work, talked about my website, some of my clients, etc., it became apparent to her that I actually made a living translating –I could see her eyes opening wide. All along, she thought it was just a pastime. Then, I handed her my (dare I say it, awesome) business card, and told her to have her brother call me to see if I could give him some pointers.

Maybe I’ll just have Ángel create a pin with the business card he designed, and let people ask me about it, hoping it would inspire real translators to-be.

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3 thoughts on “I’m a translator. ASK ME HOW!

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