21 Oct 2021

How AFT propelled my career forward

Two former students from the ITI Advancing your Freelance Translation Career course tell us what they are up to now and how the course has helped to move their businesses and careers to the next level.

The Advancing your Freelance Translation Career course started in 2017 and in 4 years over 100 students have completed the training programme. It is aimed at translators who have been freelancing for a while but who have now reached the point where they want to focus on finding premium work with high-quality agencies and direct clients.

There are four units in the course: Highlighting your difference, Finding and working with your ideal clients, Using sales to win the customers you want and, Building and maintaining customer relationships. Plus a client session when you have the opportunity to put into practice everything you have learnt in a 'live' pitch. The units are all taught by leading practioners in their field who will also provide you with individual feedback.

Below we hear from former students about why they wanted to join the course, what they gained from it, and how it has helped to develop their career and benefit their freelance business.


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Holly-Anne Whyte

When I signed up for the AFT course I’d been working as a freelance translator for around seven years and already had a good idea of the type of clients and work I wanted more of. My strategy for getting them, however, was quite vague and there were gaps where I just didn’t have the requisite business know-how. I needed help to make my vision a reality and the AFT course seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

Ultimately, I signed up because the course offers personal feedback from the tutors and the opportunity to ask questions about marketing, sales, branding and networking. That level of interaction can be really expensive, but the reasonable price and the fact the course is managed by the ITI reassured me that it would be great value for money.

The tutors’ massive breadth of knowledge and the range of exercises and thinking points was impressive and meant I could focus on the parts that would be most valuable to me, i.e. understanding the benefits and drawbacks of different marketing approaches, learning how to talk to clients and building a supportive network of colleagues.

All the tutors gave detailed personal feedback on the exercises and interactive Q&A sessions gave us the opportunity to ask questions and hear about other participants’ issues and ideas. I learnt a lot from both forms of feedback, which really complemented one another.

I was worried that I wouldn’t have time to do all the work between the sessions properly, but the course was well structured and the exercises properly explained, so this wasn’t an issue in the end. It helped that I had done some of the background thinking before the course (about target clients, specialisations, USP, etc.), so I could really get stuck into the detail of the exercises.

I took the course in early 2020 and since then I’ve started working with a few great new clients, some direct and some agency. The course gave me the confidence to put myself out there on social media and in person to meet colleagues and build better relationships – something I had shied away from doing before. The lessons I learnt have been truly invaluable for my business.

You can find out more about Holly-Anne online, on LinkedIn and on Twitter.



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Kerry Gilchrist

I've worked as a freelance translator for quite a few years now; full time since my youngest child (now 20) started school. I was quite happy coasting along with the same large agency for quite a long time, but then decided I needed to create more baskets for my eggs, so took the examination to become a Qualified Member of ITI in 2016.

I found that was a good start to broadening my business and working with more agencies, but decided that I needed more help and guidance and the Advancing your Freelance Translation Career course looked ideal.

The course helped me to focus on what I want from my business, what my skills and weaknesses are, how to network and meet other people, and how to 'sell' myself. As translators and interpreters, we spend a lot of time working in our business but often neglect working on it, and the AFT course has underlined that you can't have the former without the latter.

In many ways, it has changed my work perspective completely and made me far more proactive and outward looking. Since completing the course, I've developed professional collaborations with fellow translators, put myself forward for other opportunities I might previously have felt were beyond me, written articles for the Bulletin and even been elected as a member of the ITI Board. I'm also working hard to develop a specialism and build my knowledge and experience in that field, including joining professional networks outside the language industry.

As with anything, the more you put into the course, the more you get out of it – they give you a manual, not a magic wand. The actual sessions finished in early December 2019, but the course handbook is full of additional information and activities, and advancing my business is now an ongoing part of my working life. My cohort has kept in touch and developed into a very supportive network particularly useful when the world turned upside down in early 2020!

I wholeheartedly recommend the AFT course for practising translators and interpreters who are looking for fresh ideas and inspiration.

You can find Kerry on LinkedIn.

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