15 Jun 2023

ITI Profile: Joanna Dare Student

We talk to Student member Joanna Dare in our ITI Profile series.

I’m in the final year of a part-time MA in Translation Studies by distance learning at the University of Portsmouth.

I’ve always been interested in languages. I studied French and Latin at school and then went to university to study Chinese. After graduating, I spent several years teaching English in France and Japan and then returned to the UK to do an MA in Japanese at the University of Sheffield.

Translation was a big part of the Sheffield course and I found it was something I enjoyed and was good at. Back then I considered becoming a translator but I had no idea where to start. It was the late 1990s and the internet was limited (and slow). Finding information and building networks was much more difficult. I had the impression that translation was a solitary profession and I was put off by people who told me I would spend most of my time translating boiler manuals. Daunted by the difficulties of setting up on my own and wanting a job where I could interact with other people, I decided translation wasn’t the profession for me.

After graduating from Sheffield, I took the first job I could find which was shelving books at De Montfort University in Leicester. Fast forward 25 years…I’m now a qualified academic librarian supporting the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at DMU. Although I enjoy working as a librarian, about ten years ago I had a hankering to do more with my languages. I started studying to get my Japanese back up to a usable level, ran some Japanese “taster” sessions for DMU students and entered a few translation competitions to challenge myself. Finally I signed up to start the Portsmouth MA in January 2020.

There have been a few ups and downs studying through the pandemic but I’ve enjoyed the course and learnt so much. As well as enjoying literary translation, I’ve discovered I also like translating technical texts (bring on the boiler manuals!)

I became a student member of ITI in my second year and at the same time joined the Japanese network (J-Net) and the East Midlands Regional Network. I became the J-Net webmaster in January 2022 and I’ve also organised some local EMRG get-togethers in Leicester. I would strongly encourage students to get involved with ITI and its networks. As well as having access to free training, I’ve been able to meet lots of working professionals who have kindly shared tips on getting started and have been very encouraging – so different from my experience in the 1990s. I feel I’ve been welcomed into the profession before I’ve even graduated.

The next step – actually trying to find work as a translator – is still a bit daunting but, thanks to ITI, I feel confident that I will be able to find advice and support when I need it.