22 Dec 2021

ITI Profile: Christine Mannings

In the latest of our ITI Profile series, we talk to Christine Mannings, one of the two students awarded 'Best in class' on the 2021 Setting Up as a Freelance Translator course.

Course tutors voted for Christine based on her course work, and the contribution made to the sessions and groups. Here she talks about her career, her CPD and her experience of the SUFT programme.
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When and why did you decide you wanted to be a translator?

Although I’ve always had a passion for languages, it wasn’t until I was quite some way into my working life that I decided I wanted to be a translator. I was studying part-time for a BA in Language Studies (French and German) with the Open University and, by the time I had reached my final module, I realised I really wanted to work with my languages. I started to look into translation as a profession, and the more I discovered, the more I knew it was for me. I enrolled on the OU’s MA in Translation in 2018 and also started translating as a volunteer - and I’ve never looked back.

How did you decide which specialisms to pursue?

I decided fairly quickly that I wanted to specialise in all things environmental. I’ve always loved being outdoors and I also gained a lot of knowledge about environmental land management and conservation through my previous roles in government environmental bodies. Most of my volunteer translation work has been for NGOs, and has involved translating news, campaign and fundraising materials. By also specialising in NGO-related translation, I’m able to build on the knowledge and experience I’ve gained and continue to support NGOs in their work. It is great to be able to combine translation with subjects that I feel really passionate about.

You had three years’ translation experience when you signed up for SUFT. What made you decide to enrol on the course?

SUFT had been on my ‘to do’ list for quite a while. I first heard about it in 2018, when I took part in the ITI’s online Starting Work as a Translator or Interpreter (SWATI) seminar, and I pencilled it into my diary for when I had completed my MA. By the time I had graduated, I had already gained quite a lot of translation experience, but I knew little about the practicalities of working as a freelancer and I saw SUFT as a vital next step.

What do you feel you have gained most from taking part in SUFT?

There’s so much - but if I had to sum it up in one word, I would say confidence. Confidence in being able to clearly define my personal ‘brand’ and the services I offer, as well as in business essentials like marketing, networking, pricing, and getting paid on time. The course activities gave students the opportunity to practice these important skills and to receive constructive, personalised feedback from supportive tutors who are all freelancing experts.

How did you feel when you heard you had been named "Best in class"?

Being named ‘Best in Class’ came as a total surprise to me! It was an absolute privilege to learn from the tutors who so generously shared their knowledge and experience of the profession, so to be given this award by them is a real honour. 

The SUFT course isn’t the only CPD you have done recently. How do you decide what to focus on?

I try to analyse my main development needs and categorise them, e.g. business skills, technical skills, specialist knowledge. Then I look for suitable training opportunities to address those needs. It’s very much an ongoing process and I try to take time to reflect on what I’ve learned, amending my plan as necessary to address changing needs.

You are clearly committed to CPD. Why do you think it is so important? 

One of the things I love about being a translator is that I’m always learning. CPD enables me continually develop my capabilities as a translator and keep up with developments in the profession. It also demonstrates my commitment to clients and provides me with valuable opportunities to network.

In addition to more formal CPD activities, I enjoy listening to source language podcasts. They help me to maintain my language proficiency and keep my cultural knowledge up to date. I usually clock up about 5 hours a week, keeping a tally and logging it every six months. My CPD total for this year already stands at over 130 hours!

You have joined some of ITI’s Networks. What have you gained from your membership of these?

I’ve joined the ITI German and SHEA (Sustainability, Horticulture, Environment and Agriculture) Networks and although I’ve taken a fairly passive role so far, I hope to get more involved as I settle into my freelance career. I have found the forums very helpful and supportive and I’ve also taken advantage of the CPD opportunities on offer. 

Can you tell us about a piece of work you are particularly proud of?

It would have to be a website translation project which I undertook during the summer and autumn of 2021. At just over 21,000 words, it’s the largest translation project I’ve worked on. Translating cultural references thoughtfully, ensuring consistency of style and terminology and working collaboratively were all important elements. I was really proud to see my work go live!

You can connect with Christine on LinkedIn.