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Adventures with MemoQ September 22, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Tech tips, Tools.

Greetings from Germany. I’m staying with friends north of Bonn in Bornheim at the moment. They are translators as well and have a network, which meant that this morning when I started translating a medical report for a client here in Bonn (who just happened to come out of the woodwork the day I arrived) my friend yelled down that she wasn’t able to use her Trados because I was using my Trados 2007. Their network was not happy that I was using Trados, even though they have a two-license set-up. I guess three licenses were too much for it.

No better time like the present to try to learn how to use my new MemoQ program. I was happy I had already installed it on my laptop, but I had never worked with it. I have to say it took me about a half an hour to figure everything out (without reading a manual). I learned how to confirm the fields pretty easily. I also managed to import my TM (which I had stored on Dropbox as a tmx) and work with my medical TM, allowing me to translate 1700 words today. I just exported the file to send to someone to proofread it. I have to say that the final product really looks good.

The client had sent me a terrible OCRed Word file, so I asked for a PDF of the hard copy and ran it through my OCR program and formatted it by hand (two of the five pages were fairly filled with complicated tables). MemoQ had absolutely no problems with my formatting and special characters. I think MemoQ has a new fan…


Questions from my ATA webinar September 16, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Business practices.

I gave a webinar on Tuesday on Tips for Navigating Your First ATA Conference. The recorded broadcast is now available for free online on the ATA webinar page.

I promised to post answers to the questions on my blog. Naomi did a good job answering some of them during the webinar itself. I was going to post the ones I hadn’t answered, but I feel some of these questions might help others as well so here are all the questions.

Q: Any special tips for attendees that will also be doing the certification exam?

A: Do not stay out late the night before. Make sure you do not eat anything you are not accustomed to eating the night before. I am pretty sure there is a session on preparing for the ATA certification exam on Thursday or Friday. Check the final program. [Me: Be sure to take the ATA practice test. I would even go so far as to recommend you not take the exam at the conference, because the conference can be tiring and you should be at your best when you take the exam.]

Q: On the cards/résumé, should I indicate that I’m only an associate ATA member?

A: Most people have no idea what the different ATA membership classes mean.  They only understand the difference between ATA members and ATA certified translators. I would suggest you just say ATA member.

Q: How many business cards, resumés should I bring along?

A: She said 100 resumes per language combination.

Q: Does the roommate blog also work for looking for people staying in nearby hotels?

A: I don’t see why not. The roommate referral blog is there to help people find roommates. ATA will not remove your posting if you are looking for a roommate in another hotel.

Q: Is there a desk to check in valuables such as laptops?

A: It would be a hotel thing. ATA does not have anything.

Q: How much are tips on average in Boston (for example, for massages)?

A: I usually slip the massage therapists between $3-5 for each massage, unless they were absolutely wonderful and I feel the need to give them more. The chair massages are usually about 10 minutes long, and I usually tip my regular massage therapist $23 for a 90-minute session and $18 for a 60-minute session. For those of you who don’t live in the U.S., the web has all kinds of advice on tipping. I personally like this one the best.

Q: Regarding pre-seminars, I am not sure about the requirements when I see “intermediate” or “advanced”

A: Intermediate or advanced just means that it is designed for people who have some experience in the subject matter itself or in the field. There is nothing wrong with checking out an intermediate or advanced session and if it is too much simply getting up and quietly leaving. But if it is a pre-conference seminar that you pay money for, I would stay for the whole thing. You never know what you will learn!

Q: What kind of questions should we bring for networking?

A: Anything you want to know. Do you have any advice for someone breaking into the field?, What is your favorite kind of text to translate?, How do you balance life and work?… Anything you feel might be appropriate and would be a good ice-breaker.

Q: Is it necessary to carry my laptop to the Conference?

A: This is a personal choice. I usually bring my laptop with me to the Conference and leave it in my hotel room. Some people carry it around to take notes during sessions. It is up to you whether or not you want to carry it around with you.

Q: When are certificates for attending the conference available?

A: They are included in the bag you pick up at registration.

Q: Would you recommend taking a tote with wheels?

A: Again, this is a personal choice. If you have back problems you may want to consider it, but I personally try not to let my bag get too heavy. I empty it of most things after I register. Vendors do not pass out heavy items, so you won’t necessarily need one. One final thing to consider: a tote with wheels may trip other attendees if the hallways are crowded.

Q: How many roommates can I have?

A: The hotel sets the limit, not ATA. I believe the limit is 4, but you’d have to ask the hotel. I usually room with one other person so we each get our own bed. I wouldn’t want to share a bed with an absolute stranger.

Q: How many business cards do you recommend to take?

A: I recommend you bring 100-200 business cards. It’s better to have too many with you than too few.

Q: What is your advice to members from outside US?

A: I’m not sure I understand this question. Could you be more specific? Many members from outside the U.S. attend the conference.

Q: What’s the “dress code” for the conference?

A: Business casual. I usually wear a blouse and slacks. Some people wear suits, but they are the exception.

Q: Does one need a laptop for the tool training sessions?

A: None of the tool training sessions this year mentioned that they would be hands-on. We gave them that option, but most of them are lecture-style.

Q: Is there a way to get in touch with participants before the conference?

A: I’m not sure if I understand the question. Do you mean participants or speakers? I don’t encourage you to contact speakers before the conference. The speakers are volunteers, and I know I probably wouldn’t like to be peppered with questions before I’ve even given my presentation.

Q: Should I bring resumes with an envelope?

A: No envelope. You leave the resumes on a table so people can pass by and pick them up.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for translators with very little experience on how to network effectively?

A: Get involved in your local chapter and on the national level in your division. I have also written an article explaining how I broke into the business called E-Mail Marketing for Translators. The web also has lots of articles on networking, such as 24 networking tips that actually work.

Q: Should my resume have my photo?

A: No. This is not a custom in the U.S. and many agencies find it jarring. What you look like has absolutely no bearing on how good a translator or interpreter you are.

Q: Is there any special name badge marker to identify interpreters?

A: There has not been in the past. So many linguists both translate and interpret, that the difference has probably not been important. To meet other interpreters, go to the interpreter division events and talks on interpreting.

Q: I work with three languages (Arabic/French/English). Should I put all the combinations on the resume, or do you recommend  I make different resumes for each combination?

A: I recommend you make one resume and put all three languages at the top. It is cheaper and also easier to keep track of. But if you prefer to differentiate you are also welcome to make separate resumes.

Q: Which of the 2 Hiltons hotel in San Diego is the next conference?

A: Check the ATA website. Click on conferences, then the 2012 one. [Me: it’s the Hilton San Diego Convention Center.]

Q: Is there wireless internet available throughout the conference location?

A: Mary answered this in the presentation. There will be a wifi hotspot in the lobby and in the Exhibit Hall. People staying in the conference hotel will have wifi in their rooms (and probably throughout the hotel itself – but not in the session rooms).

Q: I am looking at the program for the conference. How come there is only ONE seminar dealing with Arabic?

A: I answered this in the presentation, but I will answer it again to reiterate. There is one session in Arabic probably because only one person submitted a proposal for Arabic. If you want more sessions in Arabic I suggest you encourage the people in your division to submit more proposals. The conference sessions are all given by volunteers who submit proposals. The due date for proposals is March of next year.

Q: If I am now part of a translation certificate program (at NYU, Ara>Eng), should I say that on my resume? My current degrees are not in a translation-related field. (They are in performance.)

A: Absolutely! I would include this in the Summary of Qualifications at the top.

Q: If you are a younger translator/interpreter (20s, 30s), do you have any suggestions on how to highlight our summary of qualifications which probably is shorter?  Obviously, someone in the 40s or 60s might have more degrees and experience with more specializations, etc.  Also, many newcomers are career changers no matter what age they are. How do we market ourselves being so “green” but knowing we have an absolute linguistic talent?

A: Everyone had to start some time. As I told my students in Kent State University’s M.A. program, even though you are a “newbie” there are still things you can highlight like “Graduating from Boston University’s …. Interpreter Program in 2012” (which shows you are dedicated and serious about becoming a professional) and mentioning that you “lived and worked in Mexico for x amount of time” (which shows you have cultural knowledge and experience through immersion). Plus everyone has background knowledge and hobbies. You should highlight what you feel makes you stand out compared to other people just entering the field. Since you are still in school and are probably focusing on your studies (unless I am wrong and you are translating and interpreting part-time on the side) you may consider not bringing a resume and just attending the conference to soak it up and see how others do things. You can then bring a resume once you’ve graduated. However, since you are from Boston you will probably want to take advantage of the fact that lots of local agencies will probably be in attendance. Another thing you might consider is doing a specialization-based resume and highlighting the fields you translated in as part of your past jobs by listing specific texts or fields. You don’t have to do a summary of qualifications (many people don’t), but I find it to be quite helpful for agencies so they don’t have to dig through the resume. Ultimately, it’s your decision to do what you feel is best for you.

There will be plenty of other newbies attending the conference. Monterrey and Kent State always sends a faction of students, for example. They use the opportunity to meet agencies that may be looking to hire project managers once they graduate. You won’t be the only newbie there 🙂 It sounds like you are definitely doing some very good things to mold and prepare yourself, so keep it up!

Q: Do you know where the Conference will be next year?

A: The sites for the next 5 conferences are on the ATA website, under Conferences. [Me: Next year we will be in San Diego.]

Q: Could you speak a little more about preparing one’s “elevator speech” (or introduction – I don’t quite recall the term you used), what it should include, and how to go about it?

A: The link about elevator speeches is on the handout.

Q: You mentioned several options for networking. Which one have you found most effective?

A: I find being active on my division listserv and attending conferences to be the most effective ways to network. People enjoy working with people they know. Being visible (even if only online) allows them to get to know you. I also highly recommend attending some of ATA’s smaller, more specialized conferences in your field. They are smaller and allow you to get to know people a little better. Also, agencies and project managers usually attend specialized conferences to specifically look for linguists in that field or with specific skill sets.

It’s been a frustrating morning so far… September 16, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.

The proofreading job I had been asked to reserve time for a week ago was just cancelled (“die Voranfrage zum Auftrag Nr. … vom 08.09.2011 ist nicht mehr aktuell. Wir hoffen, Ihnen damit keine Mühe bereitet zu haben und verbleiben…”) I haven’t worked for that agency in over a year and doubt I will be giving them priority in the future since this is not the first job they have “storniert“.

Then, I get a translation request that boils me, requiring the moon and the stars and promising me lots of work in the future – for $0.06 source word.

I wonder if you might be interested in working with us on a German-to-English translation project starting on Monday.

Here are the requirements :

– excellent command of German
– native English or perfectly bilingual
– knowledge of medical / pharamaceutical fields
– used to handling “economic/business” type reports

We are offering $.06 per source word. Payment terms are net 45 days. The client has provided a sample of the material (see below). If you are comfortable with this type of material, please translate the sample and that back to me asap. There are lots of projects, by the way.

I think my favorite sentence was the last one – almost as if it were an afterthought. Yeah, I didn’t even respond to that one. I simply hit the delete button.

I am expecting a 4,000 word job that is supposed to arrive at noon for a little over double that price, so I’m not that upset. It’s just frustrating to be a freelancer sometimes. Watch, with my luck that one will be cancelled too. I’m leaving for Europe on Monday, so there will be no new posts for the next 20 or so days (unless I get a flash of brilliance that can’t be contained while I’m over there).

Update on Dear Client: September 9, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.

I received the following e-mail yesterday regarding my outstanding invoice of $59.08, which is now FIVE MONTHS overdue (payment was due on 4/11/11). This is just getting comical.

Dear Translator:

Sorry for the delay.

I was out of the office last week for personal issues.

I didn’t get an answer from my manager so far, but we are working hard on trying to solve this soon.

I’ll keep you posted as soon as I have a payment date.

Sorry again.

Best regards,

Accounting Department

Well, at least they haven’t lost the invoice… Not holding my breath on this one…

What will they think of next… September 9, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.

After 16 years in the business I thought nothing could surprise me anymore, but I was wrong. There is a discussion on one of the payment practices listservs to which I subscribe about the following contract clause from a translation agency, which states:

After the Purchase Order is approved by the translator, he/she has to start the translation immediately and deliver the first 800 words within the next 2 hours. If the translator fails to do so, the PM will write a warning email and call, if no reply within 3 hours, the PM will assign the project to another translator and current translator won’t be paid.

Are you kidding me?

First of all, most of us usually have several jobs on our desk. They expect us to drop everything and deliver the first 800 words within the next 2 hours? Partial deliveries are NEVER a good idea. I guess quality isn’t all that important to them…

Secondly, this is an inequitable clause because we are independent contractors. The nature of our work is characterized by autonomy from the client. It is up to us to decide on the best time to begin the job. It is up to us to decide whether or not we will translate more or less than 800 words within the first 2 hours. I don’t sit chained to my desk panting and awaiting the next translation job. If I don’t have a translation job lined up I am usually running errands or enjoying living my life. As independent contractors, we cannot be bound by work constraints in this way.

I say delete inquiries like this and don’t look back. There are tens of thousands of translation agencies out there. You do not have to work with the ones of which you do not approve (or of whom you are suspicious) and you can still make a good living as a translator.

Making priorities and sticking to them September 8, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings.

There is an interesting discussion on the ATA Business Practices listserv right now about the balance of work and life. One translator was complaining that she had organized a “book club meeting with a bunch of translators for a Saturday morning.” She was looking forward to getting together to have some fun and talk about literature, but when the day came most of them backed out citing “a last minute gig.” As she complained, “Why are we so enslaved by the last minute gig that we can’t plan our lives?”

She is entirely right. I have noticed this as a past member of the Bonner Übersetzer- und DolmetscherForum and as the past president of the Northeast Ohio Translators Association. Translators seem to be ruled by rush translation jobs. Board meetings and once-a-year annual meetings are missed because there is a pressing job.

What is wrong with making certain things a priority and either saying no or arranging your schedule so that you can do both? I am the organizer of a happy hour group. I had a pressing job last night, so I attended the happy hour for 2 hours and left at 7 so I could translate the job (I only had one drink and then switched to non-alcoholic beverages). It’s about making social events or personal life stuff a priority and sticking to them. If I have made something a priority in my mind and there is a rush job I simply say “sorry, I’m not available.” In fact, when I said no yesterday, that pressing job last night was magically extended to 3 p.m. today. It’s amazing how many rush jobs truly aren’t that rush if you can’t drop everything to accept it. And sorry, but no last minute gig is so pressing on a SATURDAY MORNING. It sounds like an excuse to not go if you ask me…

All work and no play makes Jack (or in this case Jill) a dull boy

Amusing myself reading my spam comments September 8, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.
1 comment so far

Most readers who aren’t bloggers probably won’t get the humor in this, but for those of you who maintain a blog… I’m currently quickly scrolling through 70 spam comments and am struck by the absolute inanity of the comments. One thing I’ve noticed is that many of them are one sentence and contain one word completely misspelled such as:

I saerhced a bunch of sites and this was the best.

What a neat atirlce. I had no inkling.

I was seioursly at DefCon 5 until I saw this post.

Woot, I will ceartinly put this to good use!

I think the most important things is that other person must understand what you want to Conway actually, your post is really very funny, thanks for sharing…..

I have no idea what these people are trying to do other than get their links in their contact info published and irritate me (Conway? really?)… I instead choose to let it amuse me and hit the Empty Spam button.