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A tale of two translation agencies

During my master’s degree, I’d the opportunity to undertake two student placements with translation agencies. The first was excellent. I was able to work with and learn from friendly approachable translation managers who knew what their jobs involved. In the time I was there I learned how to prepare quotes for clients, prepare texts for translation and how to use Trados.

The second placement wasn’t so successful. The translation managers didn’t seem to know anything about translation. While they had excellent customer service skills, they struggled to understand their clients’ translation needs. Nor did they know what to expect from translators in terms of rates or what could be regarded as a reasonable deadline. As a result, they struggled to find translators who would work for them regularly.

I’m hardly the first translator to have worked in an agency, nor am I the first person to point out that not all translation agencies are the same. There have been numerous articles posted on the subject. However, I had a unique opportunity to work with two very different translation agencies. My experience with these two agencies taught me that good translation agencies care about the translation industry and not just about making money. As a result of this experience, I started looking at the LinkedIn profile of any agency I was thinking about working with and that of the project manager who contacted me. Do they appear to have a genuine interest in translation; are they members of translation-related groups and do the project managers have a background in translation? This research has enabled me to make better decisions about the agencies I work with and I’ve yet to experience major problems when working with agencies as a freelancer.


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