Author: Ivana Dronjak
As a young girl, she wanted to be a vet, but after falling in love with learning languages, she left her hometown and decided to start her work as a translator elsewhere. Emma took advantage of an opportunity and ever since she has been part of flexword. After 8 years of working and living in Germany, she claims to have made the right decision and shares her experiences with us.
Emma, you came all the way from Bridlington, UK to Mannheim, could you tell us how that came about, what was the reason/reasons for the move?
During my Master’s degree at Newcastle University, I received an e-mail from flexword about translation internships. In 2007, I spent a semester in Heidelberg, which is just around the corner from Mannheim, so it sounded like a good idea. I applied, got an intern position at flexword and the rest is history. I had planned on living in either France or Germany after my studies anyway so that I could put these 2 languages I learnt to use.
Being far away from your family and starting a new job in another country can be difficult, have you encountered any challenges along the way? How do you feel about it in comparison to now?
Apart from all the paperwork that needs to be filled out in Germany, everything went pretty smoothly. Skype allows me to speak to my parents as much as I want so I never felt homesick. And with England (still) being part of the EU, this helped me to work here much more easily. Brexit might cause some problems, but I am planning to acquire German citizenship so that this doesn’t affect me.
Studying translation is not so popular nowadays, was this your first career choice and what was the main attraction for you to study this field?
When I was little, I actually wanted to be a vet. But after starting to learn languages (French at 11 years old and German at 13), I realised I had a passion for this instead. I completed a Bachelor’s degree first in Modern Foreign Languages and knew I definitely didn’t want to be a teacher. I found it far more interesting to translate different kinds of texts so I chose to do a Master’s in Translation. Medical texts are the most appealing.
You have been working as a translator for many years, how does this profession look to you from this standpoint, after gaining much experience?
It is definitely an exciting job, and working in-house for a translation agency allows me to translate a variety of texts, rather than doing one specialist field within a company’s translation department for example. I have learnt so much about such a range of products and also about the various CAT tools used in this industry.
What do you think are now the main challenges translators/interpreters encounter? (translation technology, work hours..)
I would say that the main challenges for freelance translators/interpreters are linked to having to compete with other freelancers regarding prices. In order to get jobs, some have to offer cheaper prices while maintaining their high quality. In my opinion, machine translations are not advanced enough yet to be able to properly compete with freelancers, so there should be no concerns there. When customers want translations back ASAP, freelance translators sometimes do have to work at inconvenient hours, but they can always have a day off the next day 😉
For 8 years you have been a loyal employee at flexword, what kept you from changing company and what type of knowledge and skills have you gained since working here?
I was originally only planning on doing an internship here for 6 months and then going on to France to find something there. But when I was offered the possibility to continue employment with the company, I said yes because I really enjoy the job and the office environment here is great. Everyone is so friendly. And, as I mentioned above, I get to translate a wide range of texts, rather than one specific field. I have learnt how to use the main CAT tools like Across, Trados and MemoQ, and have also become very familiar with products offered by a number of companies. On days with busy workloads, I have mastered prioritising my tasks so that I adhere to deadlines.
What would you say if someone new were interested in working for flexword, would you recommend it?
I would recommend it as the teams are so wonderful to work with and the texts I have translated are generally really interesting. Most of the positions here are for project management, and in this field I don’t really have any experience. However, I can say that although there is a lot to learn and it keeps you on your toes at times, it is a fulfilling position and definitely not boring!
Finally, is there some quote you live by that you would like to share and where do you see yourself in the near future?
The only quote I follow is to have a “positive mental attitude”. I am currently very happy living in Germany with my family and do not plan on moving countries in the near future. It is still a great experience for me to work at flexword, with a good work-family balance.