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Posted on22 April 2013

How do I get started & gain work experience in translation & interpreting? ITI London Regional Group Event

In March 2013 Atlas were delighted to attend this popular and well-attended event again. Director Clare Suttie tried to make a note of all the questions asked, and has written up her own answers in a series of blogs this month. The answers are the views of Atlas Translations in particular, rather than the other speakers (although we were in agreement on most points).

How do I get started and gain work experience?

The million dollar question! You need to be PROACTIVE. Firstly your CV needs to be perfect – and we all agreed – we mean perfect. Seek advice and help. Consider a CV clinic, such as the one Atlas run. Many people I meet have stacks more going for them than they realise, and their CVs concentrate on the wrong areas. You need to be professional and sell yourself accordingly, and confidently. Network. Join relevant trade associations such as the ITI. Talk to people about how they got started. Ask friends and family – it’s amazing how many people need translations and they may know someone who needs language services. Consider voluntary translation work – NOT for a translation company but for good causes – local charities, perhaps a charity close to your heart. Think about local tourist attractions and ask if you can translate information for them – for free or a lower rate. Ask for a testimonial in return.

When applying for agencies, find a list of reputable companies (such as from the ATC and ITI), and think about phoning them BEFORE applying. Ask if they work with your languages and subjects – and how much they usually pay. Then check how you should apply to work with them. Avoid just sending out mass e-mails – it looks lazy, and chances are your message will go to their junk folder or just be deleted.

Research rates. You may have different rates for different clients.

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