Destination MITI

Written by Jacqui Flint
ITI has introduced a new route to qualified membership for translators. ITI Membership Manager, Jacqui Flint, asks two new MITIs about their experience of applying.

Until recently, there was only one way for a translator to become a qualified member of ITI (MITI): a written Translation Assessment, completed to a professional standard and assessed by members of the institute.

However, following discussions within ITI and a pilot scheme run at the end of 2017, we have now officially launched the Qualification Supported Assessment (QSA). This provides another route to qualified membership for applicants who already have appropriate qualifications, skills and experience.

Under both options, applicants must provide professional references, have a minimum of three years’ translation experience and demonstrate an understanding of ITI’s Professional Code of Conduct.

However, under the QSA route, applicants can avoid taking the Translation Assessment if they hold either a full DipTrans or a master’s degree in Translation that meets certain conditions (see ITI website for exact conditions). They must also provide a portfolio of additional professional evidence. Here, two of our members reveal their experiences of becoming qualified members through the two different routes.

QSA route

Katharine Mears is a freelance translator (French and Spanish into English) specialising in international development, corporate communications and finance. You can find out more about her at www.point2pointtranslations.co.uk.

In November 2017, I qualified as an MITI after having worked as a translator for six years. I had been considering applying to become an MITI for a couple of years. However, with a young daughter, finding a weekend to myself to take the assessment was not going to be easy. Therefore, when I received an email from ITI about the QSA route, I leapt at the chance to apply, as my MA in Technical and Specialised Translation met the new criteria.

The 23-page applicant handbook was quite daunting at first. However, once I started to read through it, I found the steps and stages of the application process to be very clearly laid out. The compulsory evidence to be provided included an application form, a professional reference (demonstrating three years’ experience), my master’s certificate and a questionnaire to demonstrate my knowledge of the ITI Code of Conduct.

With a young daughter, finding a weekend to myself to take the assessment was not going to be easy

Katharine Mears

I also chose from the various options to provide a recommendation from an existing MITI/FITI, another professional reference showing three years’ experience and a personal statement of interest.

My main concern was whether I would be able to secure the three references I needed, but fortunately the people I approached were more than happy to help. The personal statement of interest didn’t prove too challenging, either, as I could think of numerous reasons why I wanted to become a member of an organisation such as ITI.

So, has it all been worth it? Honestly, I think it’s too early to say. That said, I have great hopes for the future as an MITI. One of the key benefits is the listing in the directory. I have already had one enquiry that looks as though it will lead to a profitable job, so that’s a good sign! One issue I have come across, however, is that the directory doesn’t include my main subject specialism (international development) in its list of subjects. I worry that this could cause me to miss out on potential clients.

There are lots of ways to become more closely involved with ITI now that I am a qualified member, such as mentoring other translators and using my member vote to assist with ITI governance. I look forward to exploring these in years to come. This is just the start of the journey!

Assessment route

Fiona Gray is a German to English translator specialising in marketing and business texts. You can find out more on her company website or follow her on Twitter (@GrayscaleTR).

I qualified through the standard Translation Assessment route in November 2017. Gaining MITI status was right at the top of my list of goals to achieve from the moment I decided to become a freelance translator. I counted down the days until I had the three years of professional experience I needed to upgrade my membership.

‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’ has always been a motto of mine, so when the time came, I requested ITI’s Prepare for Success package, which included a handbook, a webinar and advice from translators who had already taken the assessment. The handy hints on organising your time, conducting research, writing clearly and understanding the mark scheme were invaluable, calming me down and giving me a confidence boost.

The text arrived at 10am on the Friday of the weekend I had chosen for my assessment, and the deadline was 4.30pm on the following Monday, leaving me four full days to work on my translation. I have to say that the travel and tourism text I was assigned was right up my street – I knew from the moment I opened the file that I would have a lot of fun writing in the marketing style that the piece demanded.

Given that the source text was around 1,000 words long, I had plenty of time to produce a translation I could be extremely happy with

Fiona Gray

Given that the source text was around 1,000 words long, I had plenty of time to produce a translation I could be extremely happy with. I started off by reading the text through several times and then spent the first morning researching the subject area. That afternoon, I drafted my first attempt at the translation. It felt like a real luxury to have so much time to indulge in the translation process for a change, as it’s not usually possible, given urgent requests and tight turnarounds.

By the Friday evening, I would have been very happy to submit what I had produced to a client, had this been a live job. But over the next three days, I revised and refined my translation, obsessing and stressing (possibly slightly too much) over individual sentences and words, and soon realising that I could tweak my work forever and still find ways to improve on it.

I wrote the commentary over the second and third days, using the exercise as a way to evaluate my decisions and an opportunity to explain to the assessors why I had chosen certain terms, styles and strategies over others. This allowed me to step back and give some thought to the way I work as a translator, and it helped me to produce a final translation that I was proud to read aloud to myself for the final time before I submitted it.

All I could do then was wait six to eight weeks for the result. I was over the moon that the hard work and preparation had paid off when I was told that I had passed! I have been contacted with a couple of requests through the directory already and I honestly can’t put into words the sense of pride I feel when I catch sight of my framed MITI certificate hanging up on the wall of my office.

Find out more about ITI assessment.

This article was first published in the March-April 2018 edition of the ITI Bulletin.