On Friday 26 July 2019, we bade farewell to Ailie, our work experience student of one year. A year 12 student of languages and science from a local school, Ailie came to us in October 2018 to begin a work placement of one afternoon a week, juggling her time with us with her studies and extracurricular activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Thus began a year in which we had the pleasure of showing the workings of our company to an interested pupil, providing encouragement to a representative of the next generation of linguists, and ourselves learning from the fresh ideas that only a young enthusiast can provide.
So what did we do when the doorbell rang on Wednesdays at 1 o'clock? What we tried to do, and hopefully succeeded in doing, was to give Ailie a taste of all aspects of the business. We discussed and practised what it takes to negotiate with clients, and the importance of getting communication right. We taught Ailie to look into the detail of what a client is asking for – the language combination (perhaps more than one!), the deadline, the technical expertise required, how to choose the right translator and checker for the translation, how to manage the workflow of many different translations being completed in overlapping but varying time frames, how to deal with any problems that arise, and how to deliver the final product to the highest possible standard.
We discussed CAT tools, and Ailie spent an afternoon trying out MemoQ. We explored subtitling and transcription. We looked at translation resources, both paper dictionaries and online resources, and we examined the importance of the checker in the translation process. Ailie found it interesting to note the long-term focus of a translation agency, where current terminology and translation work is both an activity to produce a commissioned translation here and now, and an investment for the future when that same terminology or translated segment may be needed again.
At the heart of agency work is of course the translation process itself, the art of turning one language into another which we as translators love, and strive to perfect. Ailie spent much of her time here completing short practice translations on a wide variety of subjects ranging from Christmas poems through film reviews to recipes for apple strudel. The fun of exploring those translations together and discussing options for virtually untranslatable words and phrases cannot be over-stated. (Is there an English word that can convey the sheer physicality of the German verb "sich auseinandersetzen"? We came up with "grapple"!). This is how we discovered that, platitude though it may be, we did in fact learn as much from Ailie as she did from us.
Ailie finished her year by spending a week of her summer holidays as an intern with us, so we will leave the last word to her: "Work experience has improved my German and English language skills, taught me about professional life, and given me confidence to move ahead to the next level of education and from there into the working world."
Photo by Mometrix Test Prep on Unsplash