Updated: Sep 18
Every new translator or interpreter has a million questions when they graduate from university, which is completely normal! Allow me to summarise and answer some of those questions!
I (and probably many others as well!) have to say that university is extremely useful because it offers you the opportunity to acquire (and discover!) plenty of new skills. However, there are still some things that you, as a future professional translator, will have to discover. But don’t worry, you are not alone.
First question: University is over, and now what?
As a graduate, you will probably have no clue of what is it that you want to do with your life. And guess what? You are not the only one.
One of the advantages (and possibly a disadvantage) of our profession is that you have multiple options, which is confusing when you finish university because, as you may have no professional experience, you can’t really make a decision.
Tip 1: Don’t worry, be happy! In that case, I recommend you to find a job (everything counts) so that you can get your foot in the door in the professional world and start networking.
Once you have enough experience, and sometimes you will only acquire this once you have tried a few jobs and aged a bit more, you will surely find your true passion, and then you can choose your niche.
“My what?!” Niche, in the context of translation environment, is the area of expertise, or the sector that you enjoy doing the most doing.
Tip 2: Be realistic and pragmatic: Do not expect to work only in projects related to your niche from day 1. Even the most experienced translators may have to combine different niches to pay the bills.
For example, I do combine media translation with medical interpreting and copywriting.
Second question: Does experience count when it comes to applying for jobs as a translator?
Tip 3: Yes, it does! For this reason, any experienced translator will recommend you to start working on projects for non-profit organisations, so you can acquire experience and decide if you like that sector or not. Also, being a volunteer is something that many companies take into consideration!
Third question: Ok, I have now chosen my niche and I have gained a little experience. Now what?
Networking is key nowadays, especially if you are a freelancer! LinkedIn and Instagram are great platforms for that, as you can do it from your sofa! The key is to get familiar with hashtags.
Tip 4: There is an unofficial network for translators on LinkedIn that was created recently so that professionals from all over the world could find each other’s posts more easily. Feel free to look for it and share it: #LItranslators.
Take a look at other people’s content and try to adapt the structures they use to your own posts. And don’t forget to tag or mention if you share someone else’s content! And always give them credit if you like their content J
Fourth question: How can I stand out?
To stand out, you need to identify what makes you different from other translators, and no, the answer is not “I am better”, especially if you are a newbie.
The answer to that is in your personal story and why did you chose your niche. Once you identify that, you can create your alias.
Mine is @themediatranslator, as I specialised in translating for media companies, and there are plenty of professionals out there with their own alias.
A few examples of alias chosen by other professionals:
@spanishtranslatorlondon -> Jacquelina chose an alias that contained her language combination and the place where she lives.
@thewellnesstranslator -> Macarena focused on her niche: wellbeing and health.
@the.legaltranslator -> Natalia chose to show her niche market in her nickname, and chose her language combination on her profile.
@the.beauty.translator -> Same thing for Fernanda.
#ucreatewetranslate -> Melissa decided to show a creative hashtag that represents her niche market: art translation.
These are only a few examples, but there are plenty more, so I recommend you to search properly to avoid copying others. So, now that you’ve seen what we did, what is your nickname?
Also, you may consider creating a LinkedIn profile and a website. That’s definitely handy!
OK, what is the fifth tip?
The fifth and last tip is to start doing proper market research, and to interact with as many professionals as you can on LinkedIn and Instagram! Welcome on board!