Translated by Charlotte Doane
As a proud partner in supporting new translators, Cartier et Lelarge welcomed three interns this summer. However, lockdown measures have meant that their internships have been entirely remote, which has presented unique challenges. We have had to get creative to make sure that we are giving these new translators quality training and an enriching experience. Three weeks in, we take stock of the problems we have faced and the solutions we have found.
Of course, these interactions are not strictly limited to the professional. We also use them as a chance to say hello and share a bit of what is going on in our lives.
The challenge has proven complex, but certainly not insurmountable, requiring adaptability and no small amount of resourcefulness. We wanted to ensure the best possible working conditions for our interns, so we knew communication would be key—as it so often is. We paired each of our interns with an in-house employee who is responsible for welcoming them, training them, answering their questions and revising their work. Interns meet with their supervisor each morning via video chat to plan the day’s work, and the whole staff keeps in touch through group video calls and emails. Of course, these interactions are not strictly limited to the professional. We also use them as a chance to say hello and share a bit of what is going on in our lives. The close contact between interns and supervisors, combined with a relaxed work atmosphere that persists online, has made it much easier for our interns to integrate into the team and adapt to their new work environment.
But remote work also involves logistical challenges, beginning with the question of where “work” is for you. Under normal circumstances, our internships would take place entirely at our offices. Obviously, that was not an option this summer. Like all of our employees, our current interns have had to make themselves as comfortable as possible in the space available to them and learn how to deal with the downsides of working from home, from noisy neighbours to lack of air conditioning. But even the most ergonomic home office is no use without a reliable internet connection. While the availability of home Wi-Fi is often taken for granted in Quebec, it is a different situation in Guatemala, where one of our internship supervisors is currently located. She has managed to stay in contact with her mentee despite some technical difficulties. Maintaining communication has been vital in keeping our interns from feeling isolated and making sure that they are part of the team, an area in which we seem to have been successful.
All in all, we feel that we have succeeded in tackling the challenges of remote internships in this time when solidarity is more vital than ever.
The educational aspect of our internships has also adapted to the context of the pandemic. Though our interns are given corrections and feedback on their work, they admit that the physical distance sometimes makes them feel like they are not improving as quickly as usual. Some commented that they would prefer to see their revisers in person, if only for the nonverbal cues that normally give them a sense of how well their work was received. Evidently, email and instant messenger are no substitute for human interaction. Still, our interns have taken this in stride, seeing their time with us as a good learning opportunity.
All in all, we feel that we have succeeded in tackling the challenges of remote internships. Our supervisors are by no means out of their element, as they all have previous experience welcoming new employees. One commented that the procedures that trainers have adopted this summer are similar to those that she has followed when participating in the OTTIAQ mentorship program. Overall, our interns say that they are very happy with the way they have been welcomed and feel that they have successfully adapted to this new reality. They also say that knowing they can count on the support of experienced translators has bolstered their confidence in this time when solidarity is more vital than ever. In that view, we can proudly say mission accomplished!