30 Oct 2020

Join the conversation

Sarah Hudson, MITI explains why it is important when starting out in your career to make the most of every opportunity you have to interact with different players in the language services industy.

It is easy to exist within a bubble when starting out as a professional translator or interpreter. Our attention is so focused on establishing our businesses, there is little time for contemplating the wider issues that play a part in our successes and failures. It wasn’t until I became a more active member of ITI that I started to better understand my role within our large and dynamic sector.

As T&I practitioners, we may see ourselves as the beating heart of the industry, but it is important to have a good understanding of the parts played by other individuals and organisations. Like it or not, we are affected by decisions made every day by academics, language service providers, technology companies and even venture capitalists. My advice to anyone starting out would be to make the most of every opportunity you have to interact with different players within the industry. You may be surprised by what you learn.

For example, I found out recently during a panel discussion I took part in called ‘Cooperation in the Translation Industry’ that many academics believe that machine translation has been over-hyped. This means they are working to counter misleading claims by formulating clear arguments about the limitations of MT and the value of human translation. Until that point, I had assumed that many academics would take a different stance. Likewise, I learned from an LSP owner that very different approaches are taken to so-called vendor management and that it is wrong to make assumptions based on just my own experiences.

This opportunity to engage with different players within the industry arose from expressing my opinions in a feedback form following an ITI webinar. I had to push myself out of my comfort zone to take part in the webinar and overcome my fear of asking obvious or controversial questions about issues such as low rates and unfavourable working conditions. I’m glad to say that the response from the other panellists and audience turned out to be extremely positive and enlightening.

The experience made me realise how important it is to ask questions and that it is possible for anyone to play an active role in shaping our rapidly changing industry. This applies whether you are new to the business or if you have been in the profession for a long time. We all need to keep our eyes and ears open as well as jump at every opportunity to join in conversations about the industry we operate within. So, never be afraid to ask questions and express an opinion—your views are just as valid as anyone else’s.

This article first appeared in the Autumn 2020 edition of Ignition. If you are not an ITI member simply create a web account to access the full publication.

About the writer

Sarah Hudson has worked as a professional German to English translator since 2011, specialising in creative marketing texts for the fashion and tourism sectors. You can find her at Sarah Hudson Translations.