I spent September to December 2021 completing an internship at Cartier et Lelarge. The experience was an ideal introduction to the world of professional translation. I had just finished my master’s in translation, all of which took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020 and 2021. After two years of distance education, I was not too thrown off by the virtual nature of my internship. Like other interns before me, I adapted quickly to working from home and its many undeniable advantages, such as the lack of a commute. Still, I must admit that I missed human contact sometimes. Fortunately, I was able to shake the feeling of isolation with the help of the company’s welcome and orientation video calls, plus weekly meetings and “fikas,” all held online. We also had many conversations via instant messaging—sometimes for serious questions, sometimes just for fun—that helped us build a sense of belonging and community. I even got to meet the team in person for a lovely night out (a real one, in person!) to celebrate the firm’s 35-year anniversary.
For my internship, I was paired with an experienced translator and reviser who provided me with unparalleled support and steady feedback. I had the chance to ask her all the many queries that came up, both while translating and after my documents were revised, as well as more general questions about the profession itself. This not only helped me to hone my technical skills and acquire invaluable experience but also dispelled my insecurities about my own abilities as a translator through positive daily interactions.
I also benefitted from the thoughtful advice and guidance of other revisers at the firm, each of whom contributed in their own unique way to improving my language skills. I found it particularly interesting to see the different ways that people prefer to structure their sentences. This goes to show that each problem can have multiple solutions, and that there is room for creativity in translation!
But if there is one thing I learned, it is that every client has specific communication needs and preferences. During my internship, I translated all kinds of documents for clients in a variety of industries, including professional associations, private companies, and higher education institutions. Most of my texts were related to marketing, advertising, general communications and human resources, though I also saw my share of more technical documents in the medical field. I quickly learned that I had to prioritize the use of certain terms and avoid others, and that these changed depending on the client—details that can be difficult to spot when you are in the action. It takes diligence and, often, a healthy dose of humility, when your reviser reminds you yet again not to use this or that word in a certain context! My biggest takeaway from the revision process is that there is no such thing as perfect—and that two heads are better than one. Above all, the experience of interning at a company strengthened my preference for teamwork.
When I was in school, the issue of translation software came up often in conversations with fellow students. This was usually in the context of expressing our uncertainty about these programs, given our relatively brief exposure to them over the course of our studies. During my internship, I had the opportunity to use two different translation programs, and I must admit that the learning curve was much less steep than I had expected. I quickly became comfortable with the firm’s main software of choice, and I did notice that it considerably increased my productivity and efficiency. I even started to really enjoy using it!
I must also highlight the work of Cartier et Lelarge’s coordination team. They always assigned me interesting projects that suited my skill level and occasionally gave me a more challenging text that would help me improve my translations and expand my horizons! Getting to work on such a variety of assignments not only kept me interested and energized but also allowed me to learn more about different subject areas, providing an excellent outlet for my insatiable curiosity.
All in all, my internship at Cartier et Lelarge was a rewarding and invigorating experience, both professionally and personally. I am looking forward to the rest of my career as a professional translator with enthusiasm and optimism!
This article is part of our Intern Perspectives series. Read more here.