By Naomi Baer, Secretary
Attendees at the September general meeting were treated to a wealth of practical linguistic and business information, with four translators working in different areas of specialization sharing their views in a panel discussion. Speakers on the panel included Sabine Hathaway, currently a localization agency owner, with a background in German-English conference interpretation and freelance translation; Donald Johnson, a financial/legal translator of Japanese currently focusing on semiconductor electronics; Norma Kaminsky, a freelance Spanish translator coming to medical translation from a background as a practicing medical doctor; and Tuomas Kostiainen, a freelance Finnish translator working primarily in natural sciences and technology, with a background in agricultural sciences and entomology.
Hannelore McCrumb moderated the panel, generating a conversation about many aspects of these translators’ work and backgrounds, including how they got their start, how they stay current in their fields, resources they draw on, finding work, market conditions, negotiating prices, and general advice for how to get started as a translator. (See below.)
Questions from the audience focused on such practical issues as estimating the volume of work that can be completed each day, TM (Translation Memory) ownership, and marketing.
Other business discussed at the meeting included the announcement of the new membership directory, which was on display, and the progress on the new website. The new site is now in operation, with new functionalities detailed in this issue, including online registration and payments.
Some members were also preparing for their trip to the ATA conference in Toronto, with a discussion of the collective lodging arrangements that were negotiated by Yves Avérous.
Raffaela Buschiazzo reported on the success of the St. Jerome’s Day celebration held at member Jessica Berman’s farm in the North Bay the previous week, with a great turnout and delicious barbecue and samples from the farm on a hot, summer day in Sonoma County (see “Picnic!” article in this issue).
Tips on Getting Started
Get smart about using technological tools. Everybody needs to use Trados or another CAT tool.
Be open to industry demands that may push you in new directions.
Offer value-added services, such as the ability to do layout in FrameMaker, or to take screenshots.
Be proficient in your languages.
Develop a specialty, either at the start, or over time.
Doing a good job is the best way to ensure that you have repeat business.
Decline projects that are outside your capabilities. Clients will appreciate it.
Keep developing your target language skills—especially writing—which have to be almost perfect. The better the writer you are, the better the translator you will be.
Network and collaborate with colleagues, even if they’re in the same language combination and field as you. You’re more likely to be helped by your colleagues than hurt by competition from them.
Make good investments in your equipment; using Trados or another TM tool pays for itself in less than one month of work. Get good dictionaries and make use of electronic dictionaries.
Network; find colleagues you can work with, both to share work and to learn about new subject areas.
Spend time on glossary development; you can’t start early enough doing this.
Get to know your colleagues; my group of German colleagues has been meeting for 10 years and it’s a great asset, especially for sharing work when you need to pass a project on to someone else.
Know your resources and how to use the Internet well.