Back to school – making the most of your university training pt 2

Views from the other side of the desk – 2/2

Having reiterated the obvious, let’s get down to the not-so-obvious.

What about self-study?

Very simple: do it. But do it cleverly. In other words, set yourself goals and specific tasks, and review your own work afterwards. For instance, if you want to work on economic translation, why not use the web-site of an important multinational whose webpage is available in several languages? They often have quarterly reports on the company’s finances – build up your glossary, flipping between the two versions of the page, and then find a small paragraph further in the text and translate it. You have a “model” translation to refer to, and you can analyse discrepancies. Even better – do the work with an exchange student, so that you can discuss the source text and translation with them.
You’re studying interpreting? Again, you’ll have received clear advice and guidance from your lecturers, and you’ll have materials at your disposal. All serious EU interpreting programmes should also be able to provide you with access to the speech repository created by the DG Interpretation – a wonderful resource.
What is important is keeping a critical eye on your work: plan your self-study, assess your work (time to rope in these exchange students you’ve befriended), and once you’ve taken stock of your progress, decide what you’ll do for your next self-study session.
Running a study blog could be an interesting solution and a way to perfect narrative techniques and humour, for instance.


The extra mile: what more can you do?

Plan ahead – and I don’t just mean “assignments and classes”. By that, I mean “plan your post-university life”. You’re going to come across the usual catch-22 situation: employers want people with experience, but how can you get experience if you don’t get a job? Well, actually, you can. Experience doesn’t have to be paid employment, as your career officers will explain to you. It can be volunteering, as long as you only do so for charities that wouldn’t otherwise have employed a qualified professional. It can also be drawn from your involvement in associative life- that could be a great preparation for translation project management. It could also come from your part-time job which has given you a good understanding of an industry or another.
You should also be proactive: if you’re interested in public service interpreting, go and sit on trials, many are open to the public and you’ll learn a lot about the proceedings. Organise a multilingual debating society at your university. Attend open lectures and free seminars to enrich your culture. In other words: think outside the box.
“But when do I have the time to do all that?”, you’ll ask me. Well, you may already be doing lots of interesting things – and if not, get yourself a diary and get planning. Organisational skills are also a must.

Last but not least: don’t panic, don’t be too harsh on yourself and take time to relax. Translation and interpreting are two extremely demanding professions, which can’t be improvised, a bit like a marathon. It will take you time to develop the skills and you’ll need to build up your stamina and resistance, so treating your “muscles” (in that case, your brains and your voice) kindly is the surest way to last the distance.

Author: Fanny Chouc