The Linguist

The Linguist 57,2 – April/May 2018

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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26 The Linguist Vol/57 No/2 2018 OPINION & COMMENT A career change can be a scary business. One newcomer to translation charts the year she took the plunge As I arrived in London in October 2016, the trees were getting ready for a season of renewal, and so was I. After two years living in Germany, I was set to start a new life in a new place – once again. Although I had moved reluctantly, I felt settled within a month and it was then time to confront the elephant in the room: I did not want to teach any more. Ten years in the classroom as an English and Spanish teacher had equipped me with priceless linguistic insights; maybe London could help me to realise my true vocation: translation. I had been active in this field for five years, wishing to make it my main occupation without daring to take the plunge. My first step towards a full-time career in translation was a painstaking search for information, which led me to the CIOL and, inevitably, to the Diploma in Translation (DipTrans). With an MA in Linguistics and a TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) qualification under my belt, it was the obvious next step. By this point, the trees outside the window of my office-to-be were bare – and it was late to apply for the next DipTrans exam. What to do? I decided to apply and fortunately my registeration was accepted. Suddenly, there I was, perusing examiners' reports and looking at pass rates just seven weeks before D-Day ('D' for 'DipTrans'). This is what followed: phase 1: panic; phase 2: shopping spree for hard copies of resources to bring to the test; phase 3: practice, study, practice, study. What next? After the exam, I was faced with the question: 'What next?'. Insecure about my chances of securing translation work but anxious to start earning, I applied for teaching jobs out of habit. Each application felt wrong; my heart was not in it, and as a result, not one was successful. Yet it was these failures that brought me a step closer to my goal. Learning and teaching languages has taught me that there is no progress without mistakes, so there I was, making mistakes to move forward. Between rejections, I went on a race to fill the gaps in my knowledge and CV. I immersed myself in webinars, literature on technology and specialisms, guides to succeed as a translator, and translation courses. Every new piece of knowledge sparked my excitement and confirmed that I was doing exactly what I should be doing; I had never been so exhilarated about my job. Every now and then this joy subsided: what was I doing? I wasn't sure until March 2017, when I attended my first big networking event: CIOL Members' Day. This is when the epiphany occurred: I was not alone; there were many other linguists working from the seclusion of their homes; and, most importantly for me, many of them were trying to switch careers, too. Realising that I was part of a professional group gave me self-confidence and a sense of self worth – invaluable in keeping me going. It was a reminder never to underestimate the powerful, emotional benefits of 'belonging'. Making plans Encouraged, I worked on developing a clearer plan of action. I created a document to record every idea that sprang to mind: people to contact, social networks to join, publications to read regularly, indemnity insurance companies to contact. I had a go at the daunting SWOT analysis (to identity strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), chose and conquered a CAT (computer-assisted translation) tool (although I will never stop learning it), and found a mentor, who helped me with marketing tips and eased my anxiety. Next, I became friends with WordPress and created my own website. This was, and still is, a journey. A website is a work-in-progress: it always needs updates, new client reviews and entries in the CPD (continuing professional development) record. This is why I chose to do it myself, rather than depending on a web developer to implement every change. In the middle of all this action, the DipTrans results arrived, bringing a magical breath of validation. It was time to tackle other tasks, such as opening a separate bank account for the business, creating templates of invoices, establishing terms and conditions, asking a friend to design a logo to my brief, and coming up with a business name: VibrantWords Translations (which, like many ideas, woke me up in the middle of the night). I also applied for Chartered Linguist status, and officially became CL in November 2017. Me? A specialist? As for specialisms, I learned that: 1) many translators find it challenging to choose theirs; and 2) being a generalist is rather stigmatised. My brain was so overloaded by this point that I could not see straight and I lost some sleep over the subject of Starting over CAROLINA CASADO PARRAS

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