ITI Profile: Hannah Howe
In the latest of our ITI Profile series, we talk to Hannah Howe, one of the two students awarded 'Best in class' on the 2021 Setting Up as a Freelance Translator course.
Course tutors voted for Hannah based on her commitment, her course work, and the contribution made to group discussions. Here she talks about changing careers, her experience of the SUFT programme and her plans for the year ahead.
You already had an interesting career in events. What made you decide to become a freelance translator?
I had a wonderful 13 years working in events, but with all the travel involved it became a little more challenging after becoming a mum. I was starting to think about finding a more family-friendly career that made better use of my language skills, and then the pandemic came along and essentially gave me the nudge that I needed.
The events industry came to an abrupt halt almost overnight, I lost my job and decided it was time to retrain. I wanted to return to the world of languages and I loved the translation elements of my undergraduate degree in Spanish and German, so I took the plunge and applied for an MA in Translation.
You completed your MA in Translation with the University of Surrey in 2021. Were there any aspects that you particularly enjoyed?
The entire course was absolutely brilliant and I relished the opportunity to return to academia as a mature student. It was so rewarding to learn a wide range of new skills from such a knowledgeable and encouraging group of lecturers. I found the translation technology and business modules particularly useful; I gained practical working knowledge of CAT tools, termbases and corpus query software, as well as a solid understanding of how the translation industry operates. I also found the subtitling and transcreation modules extremely interesting and came to appreciate the different translation skillsets required for this type of work.
Do you plan to use your previous career experiences as you begin to develop your specialisations?
Yes, I do, and I have the SUFT course to thank for that! I was initially concerned that defining my specialisations would be challenging, as I didn’t have a more obvious past career such as medicine or law to build on. The course tutors helped me to realise that I could draw on my background in global event management and knowledge of brand communications and business travel to develop strong specialisations in marketing, events, travel and tourism. I also plan to use my lifelong passion for horses to forge a further area of specialisation in the equestrian world, as well as develop my knowledge of environmental concerns to add another very topical area to my offering.
What made you decide to take part in the SUFT course?
The timing of the course was ideal, as I had literally just submitted my MA dissertation the week prior and was looking for a way to help bridge the gap between student and professional translator. I felt more than ready to hit the ground running in terms of the actual translation work, but I was unsure how to go about running my own business for the first time and getting my name out there in a new industry. The SUFT course held all the answers I needed.
What were the most important things your learned from the programme?
Every unit was incredibly useful, but above all I have learned the value of specialising and networking within the translation industry. I now feel able to use my existing specialist subject knowledge to carve out a niche for myself and I feel confident in pursuing my chosen areas of specialisation. On the networking side, the SUFT course alone has provided a fantastic and supportive group of fellow participants, as well as a connection with the experienced tutors who all gave such valuable and personalised feedback.
How did you feel when you found out the course tutors had voted you ‘Best in Class’?
I was absolutely delighted! And also very honoured, as I was among a very strong cohort of students. It was clear to me that the more effort I put into the course tasks and group discussions, the more I would get out of the experience. It was amazing to have this effort recognised and I am so pleased to have now gained a Trados license off the back of it.
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
I have just launched my new freelance business Hannah Howe Translations and am now in the process of registering with agencies, marketing my services and building up professional experience. I am still doing ad hoc freelance events work, which is a great way to remain up to date in the industry that I plan to turn into one of my specialisations. I am also hopeful that my events connections will prove useful in generating potential direct client leads in these fields. The SUFT course has enabled me to put together a realistic and targeted business plan which I am excited about implementing this year.