26 Aug 2021

ITI Profile: Tiffany Williams Student

We talk to Tiffany Williams, an ITI Student member, about changing careers, studying for an MA and her plans for the future.

I am in the last month of my Master’s degree in Translation Studies at the University of Birmingham, working on an English translation of an extract of a French autobiography. I still have my first pocket French dictionary, less to use (I have a bigger one now, and more information at my fingertips than I could have dreamt of in 2001) and more to remind me that languages are part of who I am.

Translation is nonetheless a career change for me. I did a BA in English and French at the University of Warwick, after taking A-levels in French and Spanish. I enjoyed my translation classes, but I got a lot of mixed impressions of the profession (You need at least three languages; it’s Madame Bovary or tiresome washing machine manuals) and thought I could never do it. I did a CELTA course to teach English as a foreign language, but then changed tracks when I got a place on a county council’s project management graduate scheme. I have worked in project management in the public and charity sector since then, particularly focusing on health and social care.

I probably wasn’t cut out to be a teacher; I was very timid then and struggled with the presentation aspect of the job, and I still take a lot of personal satisfaction in the project manager’s continuous mission to keep complexities under control and make processes smarter. However, I missed the creative freedom of teaching, and the way I could bring myself to job. By this point I had been learning French and Spanish on and off for more than half my life, and so languages were very much part of me. This desire for a change in my life, and a return to languages, was what inspired me to enrol in the MA at Birmingham.

I have enjoyed every minute of it. For my assignments I have focused on texts related to healthcare and literature, as these are areas which are very familiar to me and which I am considering specialising in. That said, my voluntary translations for European student magazine The New Federalist have given me experience in researching a wide range of topics, and so my mind is still open. Earlier this year I also had the pleasure of being part of a translation team for the Geneva International Model United Nations Conference, translating for the model UNHCR on a short deadline, and it was great to do the work in the company of others.

Meeting other translators is one of the main reasons I joined ITI as a student and aim to stay on as a member after I graduate. I have come to understand the value of networking in building a translation career. It is a friendly and supportive community I am happy to be a part of, albeit a small one - I’ve found there is more on offer than I have time to take advantage of so far!

I’m joining the Setting Up as a Freelance Translator course in September in the hope of keeping up the momentum once my degree finishes, and I am really looking forward to it.

Tiffany also recently took part in our Now we're talking initiative where those just entering the profession get the opportunity to talk to more experienced members about their experiences.