30 March 2013

What next?

A good internship, in any walk of life, is one that teaches you lots about your trade in a short period of time and empowers you to move on, armed with (at least some of) the tools that will lead you to future professional success.

Time is of the essence. No matter how much money you earn in that learning process, it would make little sense for anyone, including a translator, to stay there. You need to test the waters, but after that surely you have to make decisions: are you going into the pool or perhaps would rather not go swimming at all?

A few months should be enough to picture one's place in the translation market. Any decision will of course be subject to future review, but after 2-3 months as a translator you should probably have worked out your strong points, including preferred language pairs and prospective fields of specialization, a sense of whether there is room in the market for you and whether you want to be there at all, and a list of things that you do not yet have and may come in handy for the future: CATs and other software, tools to market your services, certification and so on.

In translation, you can aim to make your internship a paid one and to get out of it as much money as you possibly can. However, you should not lose sight of the future, the reason you are there in the first place: it is the first step in a career, and should therefore not be an end in itself but rather just a gate of access to a hopefully very long and exciting road ahead.

If you have been a badly paid, ill-equipped and generally just reactive translator for years, you may be procrastinating on the key decision of whether you should be doing something else, or perhaps just on the option of adopting crucial improvements, including some invesment, that would allow you to move on to a higher professional plane.

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