15 Jul 2022
by Fiona Gray

Making a difference with mentoring

Nothing helps deepen and expand your knowledge as effectively as sharing it. In her blog post Fiona Gray explains how the benefits of mentoring are definitely a two-way street.

I don’t know about you, but I wish I could bottle up that fizzy post-conference feeling. All the very best events leave me buzzing with ideas and impatient to start putting all the things into practice. At once, right now, thank you very much. And I have to say that I walked away from Lloyd Bingham’s talk on ‘Changing professional development’ at the recent ITI Conference feeling inspired and excited about the part I could play in supporting new entrants and shaping the future of our profession. Just when I thought I couldn’t get any more passionate about mentoring…

Lloyd’s observation in his ITI blog post in June that “more and more translators are entering the market straight after graduating than before” had not passed me by. And I’d come to the same conclusion that mentoring is one of the most effective ways to make up for the fact that there are simply fewer in-house opportunities available to emerging translators these days.

You see, my own translation career began at a translation agency, where I was mentored by talented colleagues with years of experience under their belts. Aware that most newcomers to the translation industry don’t have access to anywhere near that level of feedback and support, I decided to set up my own mentoring scheme at the start of this year to give something back and help others to kickstart their career.

My Business Buddy Mentoring is aimed at students and recent graduates just starting out in the world of translation and looking to specialise in German to English creative translation like me. I offer an introductory video call, two translation exercises and feedback sessions, a business development video call and ongoing support. It was important to me that the focus was on hard skills, but I couldn’t ignore those important soft skills we all need when running our own businesses.

I’ve seen all five mentees I’ve been working with since February evolve and grow in confidence as they come up with boldly creative translation solutions. As soon as I started revising their second translation assignments, I knew they’d worked hard to nail the style and tone of voice required in keeping with the target audience and purpose of the text. My mentees have all been working hard to take their businesses to the next level and it has been an honour to join them on this bit of their journey. It can’t get any more rewarding than that, right?

And yet, as Lloyd reminded us last month, you have the added bonus that “helping new professionals develop counts towards your own professional development too.” Mentoring has made me reflect hard on my own translation, revision and business processes. The kind of reflection that can only lead to optimisation. Beyond that, I’ve learnt so much about how I work, how other people work and how I work with other people. And I’ve ended up refining many of my own skills. Preparing, structuring and giving feedback. Explaining translation decisions and strategies. Managing my time and schedule (hello Calendly)… Perhaps most importantly of all, all of this has been a welcome reminder that you’re never too experienced to learn from others. At the end of the day, I’m rather pleased with all the clever translation solutions I’ll be stealing and applying to my own work (with my mentees’ permission, of course)!

How about adding some mentoring hours to your own CPD log? If you don’t know how to take the first steps on your own mentoring journey as a mentor or mentee, I’d recommend heading straight to the ITI Networks. Many of them already have incredible schemes you can get involved with right away. Or maybe you’d consider setting up something of your own... You know where to find me if you need a hand to get the ball rolling!


Fiona Gray

Fiona Gray

Fiona Gray MITI works from German to English and specialises in creative, marketing and tourism translation. She was recently elected to the ITI Board of Directors and is the Coordinator of the East Anglia Network, the Marketing Tutor on the SUFT course and a member of the Membership Committee.