When I was teaching English in France after my undergraduate degree, I did some translation work for a university and consequently decided that I wanted to pursue a career in the field. The MA in translating and interpreting at the University of Salford* really appealed to me due to its practical nature.
In this post I will focus on the translation component of the MA and how it really paved the way for my career as a professional translator.
In terms of the types of text we translated, the course covered an extremely wide range of topics, from international relations to the car industry! I would highly recommend specialising in a specific area further to completing translation studies. However, having the opportunity to translate texts that were outside of my comfort zone really helped me to develop my research skills and discover online resources that I still use today.
The course also addressed various aspects of translation theory. Beforehand, I do not know how I would have dealt with issues such as cultural references and country-specific jokes. Thanks to the theoretical part of the course, in addition to experience in the profession, I now feel that I have plenty of tricks up my sleeve. I was highly influenced by the work of Mona Baker, who provides a really clear overview on approaches to translation. I still refer to her course book, In Other Words, to this day, and it was an important part of my translator training.
The MA provided an introduction to CAT tools such as Trados and DéjàVu. Not only did this raise my awareness of their existence, it also provided me with a head start when I was applying for translation jobs. As a freelancer, I now use CAT tools on a daily basis, as several of my agency clients require them, they help me guarantee consistency in my work and they improve my productivity.
Preparation for the world of work:
As the staff members were professional translators, they were able to provide valuable practical information on aspects such as rates, how to invoice and a rough idea on the number of words I should be able to produce per day at the beginning of my career. There were also guest speakers from HMRC as well as other translation professionals, who provided a wealth of useful information.
As well as a European stream, there were Chinese and Arabic students on my course. It was a great opportunity to get used to working in an international environment and really helped prepare me for when I later returned to France and worked in an office with French, German, British, Irish, American and Canadian colleagues.
Many of my fellow students now work in the same field. This is really helpful as we often recommend each other and word of mouth goes a long way in this industry. In addition, I am now working as a freelancer and find it important to have a support network, because working from home can feel quite isolated at times.
This course certainly opened doors for me and set me on the path to success as a professional translator. Thanks to the MA, my career is going from strength to strength.
*Unfortunately the university is no longer offering the course to new applicants.
After completing the MA, Lucy O’Shea worked in Toulouse as an in-house translator in the aerospace industry for 3 years. She moved back to the UK last year and has been working as a freelance translator from French to English ever since! She specialises in aerospace engineering and pharmaceuticals/cosmetics. For more information, please see her website and LinkedIn profile and visit her blog Translating Matters.
If you would like to read more about studying an MA in Translation in Europe, please see the MA in Translation and Interpreting Courses page on this blog. And please get in touch if you’ve recently studied an MA and would like to write a guest post on your experience.