26 Feb /19

Lesson 14: Keep calm and … accept constructive criticism

Lesson 14: Keep calm and … accept constructive criticism
Lesson 14: Keep calm and … accept constructive criticism

As EVS Translations UK approaches the celebration of its 20th anniversary in February, its founder and CEO, Edward Vick, has been joining us on the blog each week to speak about the business and life lessons learned from the UK chapter of his international business. This week, we focus on the UK team itself. Charlotte, one of our senior translators, takes some time out to talk about her experiences.

Translation is a notoriously difficult industry to get a foot in the door for someone just starting out with very little experience, but I was extremely lucky to have one of my many speculative applications answered by a translation company right on the doorstep of my home town. The trick is to persevere if you are sure that you want to work in the language services industry. I’ve known of people who have undertaken post-graduate qualifications in specialist fields to complement their language degrees, carried out voluntary or freelance translation/interpreting work to fine-tune their skills or posted countless speculative applications all over the world before receiving a positive response from a company.

Feedback as a tool for growth

I was taken on at EVS Translations as an in-house trainee translator in December 2010. I remember the first two to five years of my career as a gruelling learning curve involving exposure to a number of specialist areas (law, finance, medicine, automotive, HR), constant research, continuous learning and relentless feedback from senior translators in charge of correcting my work. Learning to receive, accept and absorb feedback positively, pro-actively taking steps to implement that feedback constructively into my work has been a huge part of my professional development here. I have even spent time training at our other offices overseas in Offenbach and Berlin, with the knowledge and expertise I have acquired allowing me to specialise in financial translation. Now, after eight years at the UK office, I feel comfortable in my abilities to read and understand a foreign language text and then to move away from it, applying my extensive research skills and writing proficiency in my mother tongue to transform that text into an authentic English piece fit for the particular industry and target audience. I now also get to pass on some of the lessons that I have learned to junior translators as part of our mentor programme.

Learning to meet deadlines

This is a deadline-driven industry and the skills to cope with this take time to develop. Just to give you some idea: Back on my Master’s course we were given three days to complete a translation assignment of 400 words. Now I am sometimes expected to translate more than that per hour if an urgent job comes in requiring a fast turnaround! The job can involve working under a lot of pressure to meet deadlines and juggle various responsibilities: translating for different clients in both French and German, proofreading, mentoring. But being at EVS Translations for almost 10 years has been thoroughly rewarding and I continue to use my linguistic skills at the highest level.

Lessons learned: I learned to adopt a positive attitude to feedback and to keep calm under deadline pressure. To manage my time effectively and juggle different priorities. Working here over the years, I’ve become an expert researcher, too – using all the translation tools and research materials at my disposal. For any new upcoming translators, I would also say this: try to engage with the material you are translating as this will generate a more readable target text.