The Linguist

The Linguist 54,6

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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14 The Linguist Vol/54 No/6 2015 After leaving her job to become a freelance translator, Katya Roberts tried everything from skills swaps to job shares in her quest to find work A ccording to a survey carried out by, 90% of women struggle to find flexible work and 83% say it is hard to find flexible jobs that use their skills. After graduating as a native Russian linguist with an MA in translation, I spent ten years working in an office, first as a PA, in-house translator and marketing manager for an architectural practice, and most recently for a PR agency. But when I had a baby in August 2014, I knew that I would need to work more flexibly. Continuing the daily commute to central London would have meant seeing my son only at weekends, and it turned out that returning to my old job following maternity leave wasn't even financially viable. Once we factored in childcare costs, my earnings would have been less than my basic expenditure, so even if I had no income we would be better off. I handed in my notice in May. Leaving my comfort zone of salaried employment for freelance work was a scary thought. Where would I start? How would I support myself while I developed my business? How would I do my accounts? Where could I get advice? WHERE TO START? Fortunately, I had done enough translating and interpreting work to build up a portfolio, but in terms of freelance work, I was starting from ground zero. Having done some initial research online, I talked to friends and colleagues who were familiar with the industry, researched freelance rates and potential avenues for professional growth, and joined the Chartered Institute of Linguists. After narrowing down my specialisation to legal translation, as this is where the bulk of my experience had been, I signed up for all the relevant industry newsletters and started to attend networking events. As I lacked credibility due to a lack of freelance experience, I registered as a voluntary translator for TED and began translating subtitles for their talks, which was both useful and fun. Additionally, I offered my proofreading services, free of charge, to a private members' club, Russians in the City, which sends out ten newsletters a month, taking me about two hours a week. MAKING CONNECTIONS Looking for more ways to engage with potential customers, I created a Facebook page ( and Twitter account (@MasterPlusUK), and invited my friends to support me. I used these channels to keep them updated on my progress and to look for work; my first job, indeed, came from Facebook. The more I searched for translators to share job opportunities with, the more I realised that there was no unified database for translators working with my language combination, so I set up a LinkedIn group for Russian translators and interpreters in the UK. The membership criteria is rather strict, as we only accept UK- based professionals, but it is already starting to generate results, particularly in terms of sharing workload and seeking advice. Going SOLO © SHUTTERSTOCK

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