There are no easy answers or secrets to becoming a good translator or interpreter. If you asked 100 translators or interpreters to describe their early days in the industry, you would probably get 100 different answers. If you want to become a translator or interpreter, expect to walk a path that is all yours and yours alone, perhaps, hopefully, with the help of those who have gone before you and who have some experience in the field. And it is precisely thanks to the aforementioned experience that below we present some useful tips to prepare you to take your first steps in this world.
Every great translator and interpreter can learn from others, so be humble. Let’s try to frame this concept well so as not to lead to misunderstandings. Being humble means understanding that there are no secrets or even magic formulas for success, but that the only path forward is that of hard work, intelligent decisions and careful analysis of those who know best. At the same time, humility must not lead you to devalue yourself, to compete on a downward price, to become a commodity.
Be honest when telling your client (agency or direct client) about your skills and previous experience. Inflating your CV and accrediting yourself with skills that don’t exist doesn’t pay in the long run. If you claim to be an expert in a certain context, but then upon testing it becomes clear that you are not, you risk compromising your professional reputation. Clients and agencies appreciate the honesty of translators and interpreters when they refuse a job because they feel they do not have the appropriate skills in that specific field. This is actually a good opportunity to ask the agency to request tutoring, so as to specialize in that specific context.
Your reputation is the most important thing you have
When an agency assigns you a task, they rely on you to:
1: carry out translation or interpreting tasks with the utmost professionalism;
2: represent yourself.
If the client puts you on the spot and asks you to return for a subsequent assignment, remember that you are working on behalf of the rental agency, so you should let the client know that all requests for future assignments must be forwarded directly to the agency, to whom you can then name a specific translator or interpreter, if you wish.
Stay active and updated
Learn to be self-sufficient in information technology and software. Translation and interpreting are two sectors that are changing and evolving at great speed. Never before have you been able to find tools, conferences, seminars and online courses out there to progress, train and update yourself from a professional point of view, at a negligible cost if not completely free.
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