I recently went back to my graduate school alma mater to speak to its “Careers in Foreign Language” class. This was not a new occurrence for me; I do it every year to give something back to the university that gave me so much. Being a normal school, the vast majority of its graduates pursue careers in teaching after graduation. Among the many graduates of the languages department, I am one of a select few who went into translation. It was during this year’s presentation that I started thinking about when I got started as a project manager in August of 2009.
In the early months of 2012 a few months after I had left my post as a project manager and gone freelance, I was invited by an instructor from my alma mater to present something on translation to her Careers in Foreign Language class. This was my outlet; this is where I can help those who are in the same situation I was once in. I gladly accepted the invitation and gave my first presentation on “Translation as a Profession.” The presentation explained roles in the industry, language pairs, necessary education and specialization, and a basic introduction to the concepts behind Translation Memory and Machine Translation, and I ended the presentation with a demonstration of MemoQ and showed how we gain leverage from repetitive text in a document. Over time, the presentation changed based on the interest of the attendees, sometimes we discussed different ways to get started in the industry, things they could do before graduating from college to better prepare themselves, other times we discussed what employers were looking for in resumes and what they did not want to see, but one thing has remained constant over the past few years, the joy of sharing my love for the profession. Are there times as a freelancer when I wanted to wring a project manager’s neck? Sure. Have there been times as a project manager or administrator when I have wanted to yell at a freelancer to get out of the profession? Of course, we all have those days and instances, but nothing gives me more pleasure than sharing the translation industry with students of language.
So, before I get too sentimental and sappy, I would like to encourage you, my colleagues, to take some time out of your year to give back to your almae matres. If you do not have a line of communication with the translation or language department, send a quick e-mail, introduce yourself, and offer to speak to their students for an hour. I believe that this is how we can inspire the next generation of young translators and interpreters – and we should. Aside from the translation work itself, it is our job to inspire and show language learners that translation can be and is a great field to get in to, rich with technological innovation and a variety of subjects to specialize in.