Posts Tagged ‘acquiring experience’

Paid vs. Unpaid Translation-Take 2

November 19, 2007

After this first experience, I retreated from formal voluntary work for a long time. I don’t have the guts to work for Amnesty International, for example, and I feel a little guilty in that department.

Having thus lost myself in translation for many years, there came a point in my life when I wanted to make myself ‘useful’ again, and I started voluntary translation (written).

But, how do you reconcile a busy schedule with voluntary work?

Voluntary organizations, especially the smaller offices, need a commitment that makes your work meaningful. I assigned one day per week to one particular organization. One day can mean a lot of money for a translator, so it wasn’t a fixed day, I was able to move it in the week as I needed in order to cover an urgent deadline, or I couldn’t work around a paid project. And with modern technology, I was still able to receive notifications of projects offered by my clients on my mobile, so I wasn’t losing anything.

From my observations, I can list at least 3 good reasons for doing this kind of voluntary work during your working life, and I can tell that this was truly a win-win venture. It has broadened my expertise into the field of community development, where I can now work with confidence and get paid, it has broadened my social network, as I made a few friends through my voluntary work, and my personal perception is that you can assert yourself more as a professional than when you are just a student or a beginner. I phased out after the one-point-five-million-word mark, it was probably more because I didn’t start counting from Day 1. I wasn’t bored, but I needed more personal time for other pursuits.

I also do occasional unpaid work for friends, but also for young people (not homework, though!). There is a young lady out there in a US university, whose transcripts I translated so that she could get accepted. I was so proud for her when she did (she got in because of her brilliant ratings, not because of my translation)!


Paid vs. Unpaid Translation-Take 1

November 19, 2007

When young translators look for jobs to improve their practice, the first thing that comes to mind is ‘voluntary work’. A good idea, as it provides real-life practice, something that one is keen to get after a couple of years of learning how to translate.

When I started out as a translator, about 30 years ago, one of my first assignments was voluntary interpreting at a conference of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament held in Bradford, England. We were a small group from the same Paris university. Bradford seemed cold and grim, even in July, but the first evening, we ventured outside in search of a restaurant, only to find what seemed to us a crowd of Pakistani young men hanging out in the streets, just standing, not moving, looking very sad and idle and lonely… so -those were the days- we hurried back into the conference, into the comradeship of (unpaid) workers for a Good Cause. Our working conditions were very amateurish, probably violating every single rule ever devised by our international association, but this was offset by the warm, genial atmosphere.

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