Interview with ITIA member Andree Loredon
Describe yourself professionally in a few lines.
I like to describe myself as a Language Consultant because a substantial part of my work consists of providing advice on how to improve a translation. My day-to-day work includes: QA (Quality Assurance) reviews, assessment of translation tests and candidates; analysing translation projects and identifying any potential difficulty, creating glossaries and definitions for specific terms, compiling language kits to document a project, and translating. Language Consultant sums up all of the different roles that I assume: Localiser, Technical Translator, Reviewer, Language Assessor and Language Moderator with English and Spanish as my source languages and French my target language and mother tongue.
When and why did you decide on a career in translating/interpreting?
The pressure to choose a career started when I was in secondary school. At the time, I wanted to become a dancer, but I was discouraged to go down that path, so I started giving an alternative career a lot of thought. I wanted to do something noble which would also be useful. During the same period, I discovered the importance of communication, which inspired me the desire of facilitating communication. Good communication is key in life as it is something that enriches our world. When I first heard of the job of interpreter it seemed like an amazing role. I realised that it fitted perfectly with my aspirations so I decided to follow this path. However, after one year at university, I reviewed my choice as I was really more suited and comfortable with a career in translation.
Name the most important thing you did that helped you launch your career.
The most important thing I did that really changed my career was to give up my dream of becoming a literary translator and to adopt a more pragmatic approach in order to get a good position: I analysed the translation industry, looking for the areas that offered the best guarantees of a decent standard of living and matched my education and training. In doing so, I discovered that technical translation – computer technology (IT) translating in particular – was the way forward. I had just completed a Master’s degree in economic, scientific and legal translation. During my four years of study, I had also taken modules in IT, but I had disliked it so intensely that I did not want to have anything to do with computers anymore! However when I realised that computers could be the key to a decent career, I overcame my aversion to IT and enrolled into a post-graduate degree course in translation and technical writing specifically applied to computer technology! This proved to be pivotal for my career progression. The course was excellent and provided a perfect introduction to localization. This post-graduate degree allowed me to grow in confidence as a translator and to acquire a job with Microsoft as a French localizer.
How important are training and qualifications for a career in translating/interpreting.
I deeply believe that it is extremely important to study and get as many qualifications as possible to be a good translator. It is also important to keep abreast with the latest trends, innovations and terminology in the translation world in order to improve employment chances
I deeply believe that it is extremely important to study and get as many qualifications as possible to be a good translator. It is also important to keep abreast with the latest trends, innovations and terminology in the translation world in order to improve employment chances and engage with translation companies, work more productively and ultimately improve earning power.
How do you find clients?
I have several means of finding clients. One is to analyse the IT market and look for the best companies, the ones which are doing well, but also are designing interesting products in a socially responsible way and in keeping with my personal ethics and principles and the organisations which take translation seriously. I approach them via e-mail, the phone or a personal contact.
I am a member of several translation bodies: the ITIA and the SFT (Société française des traducteurs). I am also registered on the approved translator list of the French Embassy in Dublin. When I have free time, I check online translation job websites such as Proz.com, Aquarius and Traduguide. There is also LinkedIn, Monster and Viadeo. Otherwise, I try my best to establish good relationships with all my clients. On several occasions, I am proud to say clients have recommended me to other companies. In fact, I enjoy networking with my clients, my fellow translators and with other professional linguists.
Do you think it is necessary to specialise?
I do believe it is necessary to specialise in order to be more credible and convincing when dealing with clients and other linguists, as well as to work with more ease and efficiency.
What is your favourite type of text/assignment?
I like to translate software strings, instructions and texts with very little room for ambiguity or multiple interpretations. I like summaries and sentences that are straight to the point. I love when I can see the strings to be translated immediately in the software, and I get even more excited when I can see my own translation in the real context.
the difficulty with software translation is that often no context is provided. Then the translator’s mind is faced with a complex procedure of deductions in order to recreate the missing context and I often find this exercise invigorating as I assume the role of detective
What is the best/worst thing about being a translator/ interpreter?
The best things are the diversity of subjects that translation allows you to deal with in a very short space of time; you don’t get bored when you work as a translator. Translation provides you with the freedom to work from anywhere in the world with a good computer and Internet connection. What I find frustrating is that you can never produce the perfect translation; there is always room for improvement.
Is it possible to have a good standard of living?
For years, I had a very good standard of living. I had the perfect client who paid me a very decent rate, gave me lots of interesting work every week and I got paid on time! This ideal situation did not last, but this experience does go to prove that it is possible to live well as a freelance translator, you just need to find the right clients (more than one) and to keep up with the industry evolution as well as to maintain your motivation and passion for your work.
What advice would you give someone thinking of embarking on a career as a translator/interpreter?
People who are thinking of embarking on a career as a translator should bear in mind that a freelance translator is also a business person who has to be able to negotiate well, almost on a daily basis, and therefore while studying translation, they should also get the grips with the art of negotiating and communicating. In the course of their daily work, translators do also have to write a high number of e-mails to ask and answer questions on a given project, but also to negotiate deadlines, to enquire about payments, etc. I would recommend that new translators cultivate their organisational skills, ability to multitask and work fast, and deliver their work in timely and accurate manner.