Make no mistake — I love working in the translation business. This doesn’t mean, however, that it doesn’t come with some trials and tribulations.
Many graduating French students or bilingual ESL students simply think that because they know another language, they have access to a job that’s easy for them based simply on the fact that they know more than one language – but this isn’t the case. There are a lot of different skills involved in being a translation project manager, from being good with people to organization.
These are just a few of the things I have to experience every day being a translation project manager.
Working with other people
Are you a people person? If you’re a translation project manager you have to be. A client is someone who you’ll be interacting with frequently, so fostering a good relationship is important to having an easier time managing their project.
Not all clients are alike, of course. Some will be personable, easy-going and a blast to work with — others will be difficult and hard to understand. A translation project manager must adjust themselves accordingly and communicate effectively no matter what personality their client has.
Honing multiple skills
Like I said before, translation project managers have to be multi-talented. It’s obviously important to be bi- or multilingual, but that’s just one part of the job. Other necessary skills include:
- Being technologically savvy
- Having communication abilities
- Being literate in multiple languages
- Proofreading and editing
- Language fluency upkeep (if a language isn’t a mother tongue or ingrained, it can fade)
Because translation work is global by design, not every client I work with lives in my same time zone. This is something all translation project managers will have to get used to and talk about with their clients. If they live in 6 time zones ahead of you, a work schedule has to be created that works for both of you despite the six-hour difference.
It’s also important to understand time zones from a deadline perspective. If a client wants a piece done by 8 PM, it’s important to remember that’s usually 8 PM their time, not yours.
Even knowing multiple languages (English, French, Spanish, Dutch, German and Italian), my job still involves technology like Computer Assisted Translation tools. Some projects I can translate easily based on my fluency, but hobby languages can always use some sprucing up. Computer Assisted Translation tools can make the life of a translation project manager much simpler by combining the reasonable brain of a human with the logical knowledge of a computer.
There’s also project management tools. Anyone in any project field has to get used to scheduling their every day to make sure projects are completed on time. If you want to be a translation project manager, you’d better get used to scheduling, scheduling, and more scheduling.
Finally, being a translation project manager can be an extremely stressful job. Though I find my work to be extremely rewarding, the deadlines, clients, and projects can sometimes be overwhelming. The work involves deadlines, some of which are strenuous and hard to meet. Stress is something that happens, and all translation project managers will face it during their career.
But, like I said, the work is also fascinating and rewarding. I love being a translation project manager, and the pros massively outweigh the cons.