In a recent panel discussion during a Wordbee webinar on freelance translation management, we talked about how it’s important to specialise. This helps you stand out from the crowd of translators that offer to translate everything or almost everything under the sun. It also makes you more credible. Because being good at every subject is impossible, even if you do pride yourself on your research skills.
After being made redundant in the summer of 2016 from a non-language-based role with the Home Office, I decided that I finally wanted to return to using my languages regularly, rather than merely on holiday or for the occasional rendition. Translation, in particular, had always held an attraction and not just involving Modern Languages, as my Latin A level testifies. Translation had seemed a dream job and more realistic than my other illusion of becoming a professional snooker player.
Having been based in Sheffield since 2002, I was fortunate that there were still vacancies on the popular MA in Translation Studies (worth 180 credits) in the University’s School of Languages and Cultures and I was duly accepted. I was also confident that my languages were still pretty good and my 2.1 from Bradford undoubtedly helped.
The Careers in Translation and Interpreting Conference in May 2013 at Aston University in Birmingham organised by Routes into Languages inspired me to apply for the MA Translation Theory & Practice at UCL as part of a career change. The application process was straightforward: BA (Hon) results of at least 2:1, IELTS (Academic) result of at least 7.6 and a written personal statement.
This is the Bristol MA’s USP. For a start, it’s entirely based on distance learning. All teaching is on-line: there’s never any need to visit the campus. This is of course invaluable for anyone who has other commitments to juggle, as I did at the time (I graduated in 2015). What’s more, the course can be completed either in one year full-time, or over two to three years part-time, starting in either September or January.
This guest post has been written by three former MACITS students at the University of Leeds and it forms part of the ongoing MA review series on this blog. If you would like to write a review of your MA, you’ll find more information and a complete list of all past guest posts here. This list includes two other reviews of MAs at Leeds.
Eleanor Regin, Lara Fasoli and Miruna Georgescu met during their MA course in Conference Interpreting and Translation Studies (MACITS) at the University of Leeds (2015–2016). Eleanor was enrolled on the ACC course (French and Italian into English), while Miruna and Lara were enrolled on the Bidirectional course (Italian-English). After graduating, we started freelancing and decided to start co-writing a blog (Apertis Verbis). Miruna is currently a translation trainee at the Council of the European Union, and both Eleanor and Lara are working as freelancers. The trio share their thoughts on the MA at the University of Leeds and discuss some of the main features of the course.
Three of the most popular posts on my blog over the years have explored the relationship between translators and agencies: ‘18 reasons why an agency might stop working with you’; its sequel, based on feedback on the original post, ‘22 more reasons why an agency might stop working with you’; and a post looking at this relationship from the opposite perspective, ‘Thirteenish reasons why you might stop working for an agency’.
Today’s post is a sequel to the latter based on comments made on the original post, my own experience and opinions I have read in forums or discussed with colleagues in person.
I’d always planned to become a translator. The career seemed to fit my abilities and interests well so the die was cast on my academic path. The translation modules I did as part of my undergraduate degree in Modern Language Studies (French, Spanish and Dutch) only whetted my appetite further for continuing my study of translation. Then, as if almost by a stroke of fate, just as I was starting my final undergraduate year, the university’s Cultures, Languages and Area Studies department announced that they would be introducing a postgraduate programme in Translation Studies – with the option to study interpreting as a supplementary module. I leapt at the chance to apply for a place as soon as I could, and so began my Master’s degree at the University of Nottingham.