Posts Tagged ‘Social Networking’

Social Networking and Specialist Networks

November 28, 2007

Out of curiosity more than anything else, I was a member of ProZ for a couple of years. Ironically, it did one thing for me that social networks are meant to do: I became reunited with one long-lost friend.

I joined ProZ in order to have a bird’s eye view of what is going on in the translation industry on a global scale. Yes, I mean ‘industry’ in the literal sense. And I was amazed -an understatement. Because I am in the fairly privileged position of having a “slash career“, being both a translator and a conference interpreter, I can afford to be fairly selective. New genuine opportunities are what I am always on the lookout for, not jobs that pay 0.02 US dollars per word (yes, that’s true!). I can volunteer to translate for nothing, and it will get me more personal gratification, and gratitude, than such impossibly low rates.

The questions section of ProZ was addictive. But once I made it to Page 1 of the list of best technical translators, that was it. I knew who my ‘friends’ were, I knew who was friends with whom, the dynamics behind all that striving to be #1 (impossible in my language combination, the position is taken forever: he’s still up there), but being on Page 1 didn’t prove anything. If I got the point, it just meant that those who had developed a liking for my style of translation were 1) online, 2) paying attention, 3) quick enough. But it never gave me any visibility, although, if you google me, you will find a trace left. You would think that when you cease to be a member, all your data and contributions disappear. Well, that’s not true – these things have a strange staying power in cyberspace.

However, ProZ was an eye-opener in this sense too: it reinforced me in the way I define my own performance. I want to give my clients the highest quality I can provide, to have with them professional, clear and cordial exchanges. And I want to be paid in proportion, and on time. And that order sums up the nature of my business relations.


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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I did it!

November 13, 2007

I can’t believe I did it! Up until now, I’ve been reading other people’s blogs. Now I have my own.

In the past few months, I read a couple of articles about Facebook, MySpace, and Web 2.0 in general. But I didn’t really have the time, or even the courage, to look into that. A couple of weeks ago however, after reading about the use and the impact of Facebook and other social networks for small businesses, I decided to go for it. I created my Facebook profile, I have now created this weblog, and I am developing my year-old domain that has been waiting for my attention. It’s a work in progress, but it will be done.