Congratulations – you are now a post-graduate translator! You’ve probably revised your résumé and updated your LinkedIn profile. Or perhaps you’ve set up your online freelance business, and you’re ready to take on your first client. The world is your oyster as you begin a career in translation… but is that all there is to it? Here are a few things you should do as a post-graduation translator, to keep up with the professional crowd.
1. Develop one or two specializations to start
Newcomers often want to be a jack of all trades when they first enter the translation workforce. However, this prevents them from enjoying the perks of developing a specialization, such as higher pay or even better chances of landing a job.
Most people prefer to hire an expert who has extensive knowledge about the field they are hiring for. By being a specialist, you help your potential employers feel more confident in your ability to use the right style and terminology when translating a piece.
The same principle applies whether you want to work as an independent translator or apply for an in-house role. Your degree shows that you’re familiar with the theories and strategies of translation – now pair that with a niche in the market to show that you’re undoubtedly the right person for the position you want.
How do I do that?
Looking into your strengths and interests is a good place to start finding your niche as a post-graduate translator.
You don’t necessarily need a professional certificate to show that you are an expert in something (but it certainly helps!). Experience counts too, and now is the perfect time to start building experience by only taking on relevant jobs.
Do you enjoy fiction and prose? Try your hand at being a literary translator. Or do you prefer to tinker with technical jargon and concepts? Then you could translate for the finance or IT industry.
And remember, you can always branch out later.
2. Learn more about translation software systems
You might have tried using translation software at one point during your degree, usually at an introductory level. Now that you’re a professional, be ready to jump into the entire ecosystem of translation technologies.
Businesses utilize different software to streamline and speed up their translation processes. As such, they expect their translators to adapt to the range of tools that they use.
Since some translation software programs have a steeper learning curve, like SDL Trados, it helps to be familiar and comfortable with navigating computer applications.
How do I do that?
While your employer may provide training in this department, keep in mind that it’s only for the set of software they use. Beyond that, being a post-graduate translator, you should still learn more about the most used tools of the trade, even if you currently don’t use them. Some examples are:
- Desktop publishing software
- Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools
- Translation management systems (TMS)
More importantly, you should look into the best practices and techniques for using each tool so that you enjoy its full benefits. For instance, knowing how to format a Word document properly makes a big difference in how fast your employer can push your translations to market.
3. Sharpen your personal branding skills
Building your personal brand as a post-graduate translator is a gateway to better opportunities. If your brand is online, recruiters and potential clients will notice you.
It could also work the other way around – recruiters and potential clients will google your name to find out more about you if they’re considering you for a job.
Hence, not only you should put yourself out there by developing an online presence, but you also need to know how to play the social media game to engage with people who might use your services one day.
By putting some thought and consistency into your personal brand, you’re demonstrating that you’re a credible and professional freelancer that people can rely on.
How do I do that?
You can use a combination of LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and even a professional website to start building your brand. But remember to keep your professional profile separate from your personal one.
Think about one or two things that you want people to take away when they come across your professional profile. Then, work those things into your personal statements and daily postings on each social platform.
4. Keep up with cultural and linguistic trends
Behind each language is a community, its values and cultures, and current trends that could shape these values and cultures. As a translator, you should always keep up to date with the latest news and cultural developments within each language community.
With a keen understanding of the context that shapes different languages, you would be able to produce accurate, impactful, and nuanced translations. It’s a skill that you can’t necessarily learn from a textbook because languages and their communities are evolving all the time.
Although a language’s rules and grammar will largely stay the same, slang and pop culture does not. Know that this will make a world of difference in your work – depending on the translation field you work in.
How do I do that?
As a post-graduate translator, you should constantly immerse yourself in the languages that you translate. That could be reading relevant news sites or being active on social media in specific languages.
Completing your translation degree is the beginning of a long and fruitful career in translation. By doing the things mentioned above, you ensure that your skills always align with the latest translation demands.