30 Sep 2021

ITI Profile: Laura Machmudova Student

Like most translators, I loved languages from an early age. I grew up bilingual in English and Lithuanian, with parents who spoke a few languages each. Although I grew up in the UK, their commitment to speaking Lithuanian at home made me appreciate the value of languages and sparked my curiosity. Soon, I wanted to learn more.

I studied a BA in Spanish, Italian and European Studies at the University of Bath and graduated in 2017. I began the course as an ab initio Italian student and finished with a proficient level of Italian, helped greatly by the year I spent working in Veneto as an English teaching assistant.

Apart from developing my language skills and cultural knowledge, my BA also introduced me to translation. Learning about translation as both a product and a process convinced me that I too wanted to work with language in this way. This interest deepened with my love for international literature, particularly of Latin American and Italian fiction. I became acutely aware of the process undertaken to make these works accessible to me and realised I wanted to shape language in a similar way. Translation provides an important, often overlooked, contribution to our cultural landscape, and it is one in which I hope to play a role in my future.

Following my graduation, I spent three years working for a private equity firm in a fast-paced and international environment. Although I enjoyed the international aspect and developed valuable skills for life, it quickly became clear that my professional future did not lie in the financial sector.

I had not forgotten how fulfilling I found translation and my goal was to return to my studies and apply for an MA in translation. I finally took the plunge towards the end of 2020 and received an offer to study for an MA in Specialised Translation at the University of Westminster. I am incredibly proud of my choice and can wholeheartedly say it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. It led me to what is probably the most challenging yet exciting period of my life so far! I want to reassure others considering translation training that it does not matter if you are working in another industry or a few (or more!) years have passed since you finished your undergraduate degree but you are thinking of studying again – believe me, it’s not too late.

I started the MA in January 2021 and have grown immensely as a translator since then. My training has really pushed me not just academically, but also to take important steps in the beginning of my translation career.

Tutors encouraged me to join the ITI as a student member and I can now say there is so much to gain from the membership. Apart from the excellent learning resources in the form of both upcoming and past events, the ITI provides a valuable network. We often hear that translation can be a very solitary profession, so having access to a community of fellow professionals in all membership categories is hugely reassuring to a young translator starting out in the industry. Most recently I have taken part in the excellent Now We’re Talking initiative, which pairs student members with other ITI members and invites them to chat and share insights.

Currently, I am focusing on finishing my MA translation project, pursuing further volunteering opportunities and of course, logging that all important CPD. My long-term goal is to become a freelance translator, and I’m confident the journey towards that goal will be an exciting one.

Listen to Laura in conversation with Ruth Parkin, HR and Compliance Officer at Surrey Translation Bureau in our Now we're talking podcast series.