Benefits of the Master’s in Translation & Language Industries (at ISTI, Brussels)

Today’s guest post by Elyas is another instalment in the ongoing MA review series. So far 11 former students of MAs in Europe have written about their courses in 8 articles. Before Christmas there’ll be another two posts on the MAs at Swansea and Leeds. If you have studied an MA and would like to share your experience, please get in touch (my email address is in the right margin). See this page for more details about writing for this blog.

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I graduated from the ISTI (Institut Supérieur de Traducteurs et Interprètes), located in Brussels, in 2010, having studied an MA in Translation & Language Industries. This specialization is a compulsory part of the second year of the MA, following the Bologna decree for European harmonization. For that specific year, students can choose between four different specializations:

  • Multidisciplinary translation
  • International relations translation
  • Literary translation
  • Translation and language industries

I have to admit that, even during my first year of the Master’s, I was still not sure what exactly I wanted to do in my future professional life. The image of the freelance translator working alone at home did not exactly thrill me (even though I’ve changed my mind since then).

I then began to take part in some seminars the university organized to explain the pros and cons of each specialization. But as this Master’s was only put in place one year before (the specializations existed, but in the form of a non-compulsory one-year specialization after the licentiate degree), getting a clear picture of it was not easy.

On the other hand, I didn’t want to opt for the ‘multidisciplinary translation’ option, as this was the ‘logical’ continuation of my degree course: since I had the chance to specialize in one of these fields, why not seize that opportunity?

For all those reasons, I eventually decided to opt for translation and language industries, as it was the specialization that most appealed to me. The program covered:

  • Audiovisual translation (subtitling)
  • Translation project management
  • Web and software localization
  • Use of CAT tools
  • Terminology management

And I was not disappointed. The courses broadened my mind to other jobs I could do in translation! I began to see the Master’s from a completely different point of view. The courses were so rewarding and all very interesting.

For my last-year thesis, I subtitled a scientific BBC documentary and I did a three-month internship as a translation project manager in a private translation company. Both experiences enabled me to gain a great deal of confidence in those two specific fields.

When I graduated, I was hired as a translation account manager by a Brussels translation company (undoubtedly as a result of my internship during my last year) where I spent five rewarding years. The company is small in size (a dozen people) but has a strong presence in the international translation landscape. As it was small in size, I had to multitask and, therefore, I learned a lot of things (in ICT, human resources, CRM handling, customer management, customer care, team management, accountancy, and so on). I was also promoted, after a few years, to additional roles, such as team leader and help-desk and procurement manager.

After five years or so, I had the opportunity to go through a competitive process for a job as a translation assistant in an international organization, for a definite contract of 3 years, with a possibility of a new three-year renewal. For this role I needed to be multi-skilled, flexible, stress resilient, a team player and to know how to use CAT-tools. I think my five-year rewarding experience in that Brussels translation company certainly helped me land the job.

Looking back, I think that what I learned during the translation and language industries Master’s at ISTI really made a difference. Not only did the multidisciplinary education provide a solid background, but we also had the opportunity to complete an Erasmus (I spent four months in Russia during my BA) and internships in professional companies, both in Belgium and abroad. Seminars are also organized throughout the year. We also had visitors come to talk to us about their jobs and experience in the translation industry.

For all those reasons, I would, without hesitation, recommend the four MAs at ISTI. All are very good and of a high level, but I specifically recommend the translation and language industries MA because I think it provides better preparation for students who would like to become freelancers afterwards (i.e. the most usual outcome for anyone studying translation) by giving them a real, substantial picture of what the translation world is really like (but of course, this is my opinion!) :-).

summer-office-student-workElyas has a BA in translation and interpreting and an MA in translation & language industries. He used to work as an account manager in a private translation company in Brussels for five years. He now works as a translation assistant in an international organization.

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