… and you are wondering how to go about it. Well, there are no completely right or wrong ways, but there are certain things which are beneficial.
Firstly, whichever language you are learning, learn it properly. Your University might send you abroad for six months to a year, but this is not normally enough. It is also surprising how many British language students create their own little island whilst at foreign universities, completely cutting themselves off from the local community. So, participate locally and, if possible, go back to your chosen country after graduation and get a job for a year. Any job will do, because you will be surrounded by the language all day, every day – and the money you’re earning will go nicely toward paying off that huge overdraft you’ve run up.
Now that you are completely fluent in your chosen language, what next? Many people choose to undertake postgraduate qualifications. These will usually introduce you to computer aided translation programs such as Trados and Deja Vu. It is also a very good idea to improve your general IT skills – the days of translating with a typewriter, scissors and glue are very long gone and aren’t coming back. Most Masters schemes will introduce you to the sort of skills which you don’t really need at degree level, but which are essential as a professional translator such as terminology acquisition and possibly some DTP / web design programs (the client decides which format you will work in, not you!) And, obviously, you will be given much more complicated translations. In the real world, you will very seldom translate newspaper articles and extracts from books.
So, now you have finished university and it’s time to put this into practice. Ideally, during your studies you should have developed a specialisation. If you haven’t, start working on one now. Work in pairs with another translator, for feedback, support, and just for someone to moan to when your PC has crashed again. Make contacts (Wolfestone does internships, for those who are interested…) But above all, keep learning. The world outside is constantly evolving, and you will be too.
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