Tips for Jump-Starting Your Translation Career

Tips for Jump-Starting Your Translation Career

At Cartier et Lelarge, part of our mission is to provide internships for student translators so they can gain real work experience. This article offers tips on how students can get a head start on their career while still in university.

Be proactive. Do not wait until after your degree to start looking for a job. Get as much experience as you can before you graduate. Do an internship. Ask your teachers about opportunities. Volunteer. Be generous. Pitch your services to local organizations. Start a student translation service for the community.

Be ambitious. Ambition is a good thing. It means you are willing to think outside the box and push yourself. If you want to do something, put it out into the universe. Set a goal and find a way to achieve it. Be creative. And do not limit yourself.

Know yourself. Are you a good team player? How do you react under stress? What do you find challenging? What are your strengths? These questions are important for more reasons than job interviews. Knowing the answers to them will increase your confidence and level of satisfaction at work. It will also help you build the career that is right for you.

Learn to speak your source language well. Your clients speak your source language and so should you. It shows you respect them and increases your chance of developing a strong relationship with them. It also opens up job opportunities and a whole new network of people.

Learn about business and finance. Unless you are a literary translator, you will probably be translating material for companies and organizations. You need to understand their language, how they operate and what drives them. Read the business and finance sections of a good newspaper in your mother tongue every day.

Reach out to your teachers. Networking starts in school, and your teachers are some of your best resources. Tell them what you want to do and ask for help. You will be surprised by their generosity.

Become a student member of the Ordre des traducteurs, terminologues et interprètes agréés du Québec. This is an inexpensive way to start building your network and community. As a student member, you can attend OTTIAQ’s annual conference, networking events and certain professional development courses. One piece of advice: avoid other students and get to know professional translators!

Want to specialize? Read AND take classes in your field of interest (in addition to specialized translation classes). Specialization requires in-depth study of a subject, and you often develop it over the course of a career. If you want to specialize, take a class or two outside of your translation curriculum to start building your knowledge.

Learn about project management and translation software. More and more, translators are being asked to master a wide array of skills. Taking classes in project management and translation software will help you understand other aspects of the translation industry. Diversifying your tasks will also enrich your professional life!

MOST IMPORTANT: Do an internship. Internships often lead to jobs and they are the best way to learn. If you do anything on this list, do an internship!

Judy Murphy works at Cartier et Lelarge as an in-house English translator. She started as an intern when studying translation at Concordia University and hasn’t looked back since!