Third CTS Professionalisation Talk 2017-18: Life after the MA

On 17 October, Leeds Centre for Translation Studies (CTS) welcomed back graduates Rachel Gillis and Claire Vaux, who delivered a talk on life after finishing their Masters.

Rachel completed both her BA in Spanish & Arabic (from both of which she translates into English) and MA in Applied Translation Studies here in Leeds. She spoke first about her time at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a UN organisation based in Geneva, where she completed a Translation Fellowship for the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). What started as a seven-month fellowship became a one-year temporary contract and the organisation is now one of her direct clients.

During this period, Rachel worked on the translation of various patent abstracts and reports. Having no technical background, the texts she encountered were sometimes dry and difficult to understand, but the occasional ‘weird and wacky’ innovation made it worth her while. Her translations required correct terminology so as to avoid misleading the reader; good research skills were therefore absolutely essential.

Rachel highly recommend fellowships at WIPO, as the training is rigorous, helps to develop a specialisation and the pay allows for a comfortable lifestyle. She also described how seeing her work actually being used was particularly rewarding. Finally, Geneva is a hub for International Organisations, and hence a great place for networking. Since her time at WIPO, Rachel will have two short contracts in 2018 with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC).

Rachel, having built up a client base, now works as a freelancer and finds the flexibility and freedom very enjoyable. However, she stressed the need to be disciplined, self-reliant, and prepared to deal with peaks and troughs by not relying on a sole client

Claire, our second speaker, works from German into English. After completing her MA in Audiovisual Translation Studies, she built up her freelance workload gradually, whilst also dabbling in a range of jobs. These included tutoring, proofreading and project management. She found her role as a project manager through a friend on LinkedIn, highlighting the importance of establishing a professional online presence.

Claire illustrated some of the main skills required both in the translation industry and the freelancing world: time management, which she handles through Google Calendar, as well as organisation and communication skills, both for networking and working with clients.

She then went through some of the main perks of the MAAVTS programme, such as networking and learning key skills like subtitling. Other points she stressed included giving peer feedback, and trying out all the CAT translation tools while at university, since it can be very expensive to use them in the professional world.

Finally, Claire touched upon maintaining a balanced lifestyle. As a translator, it is crucial to counteract isolation by engaging with your outer community. Moreover, you should not feel compelled to accept all job offers, and take time off by getting out of the house and setting some boundaries between your professional and personal life. Claire emphasised the need to stay active and showed her ergonomically designed workspace, which includes two adjustable monitors and a standing desk to avoid sitting down for too long.

Both Rachel and Claire were grateful to have studied at Leeds CTS and reminded students that the techniques and CAT tools they are learning will stand them in good stead. They both also advised them to make the most of their time here by networking with peers and by exposing themselves to different areas of the language service industry.

Thank you Rachel and Claire!

Report by CTS students: Ksénia Carenou, Tom Rodríguez and Assia Shahin