We Will Miss You, 2010! Will You?

As we put the finishing touches on our last projects of 2010, we realized that we haven't really had much time to  reflect on our year, and that's because we've been buried in work (which is a good thing). It certainly didn't feel like the recession (or end of the recession) to us, and we had the opportunity to sign a good number of repeat customers this year, for whom we do projects on a weekly -- and sometimes even daily -- basis. In addition, we were able to capitalize on our business development efforts and established business relationships with several dozen new clients on both sides of the Atlantic. We will definitely miss 2010: our book was released to excellent reviews, we were able to work together in person for almost three months, we attended and spoke at many outstanding conferences around the world, we won several awards, we worked on the boards of directors of our regional and national associations, and we had the chance to spend time with our wonderful friends and colleagues. That said, we would like to improve on taking time off: we really are not very good at fully leaving work behind and are constantly lugging our laptops around.

We are sad to see 2010 go, but we look forward to another prosperous, rewarding, healthy and fun 2011! We would love to hear how you feel about 2010: was business good? Was it a struggle? Are you happy that 2010 is finally coming to a close? We have heard mixed reviews from our colleagues -- some had fantastic years, while for others it was just a slow recovery from 2009. 

Happy 2011 to our dear friends and colleagues around the world!

Last-Minute Holiday Gifts (No Shipping)

Time flies -- and now Christmas is right around the corner. Did you forget a special someone on your list who happens to be a linguist, and now it's too late to mail anything? Not to worry: here is a short list of great gifts that recipients can receive via e-mail. They might not have anything to unwrap, but these gifts sure will get some use!

  1. The Translator's Toolbox: A Computer Primer for Translators  is the perfect guide for anything you need to know about technology (PDf files, operating systems, translation environment tools, terminology tools, online security, and much much more) by ATA technology guru, working translator, prolific writer and all-around great guy Jost Zetzsche. This 400-page, password protected PDF can be purchased via PayPal and is $50 ($30 for ATA members). In addition, there's the premium edition of Jost's incredibly popular newsletter (The Tool Kit), which you can send to your favorite translator for $15. 
  2. Give the gift of good research by purchasing an annual subscription to the invaluable Payment Practices database. Expertly run by our wonderful colleague Ted Wozniak, there's no better tool than to research an LSP before you take a job than Payment Practices (PP). This might be the best $19.99 gift you could give a translator. 
  3. While we haven't had the chance to read it yet, we hear great things about Alex Eames' Business Success for Translators. It's an e-book that you can download immediately for $33. This price includes a 20% holiday discount that Alex is offering at the moment. If the name sounds familiar: Alex is the editor of tranfree
  4. Is the linguist on your list starting out in the business? Then give the gift of Getting Started as a Freelance Translator, a tailored online course offered by one of the most knowledgeable linguists in the business: Corinne McKay. Her new online class starts on January 10 and is $350 ($300 for ATA members).
  5. Purchase a subscription to the Watercooler Network, which is perhaps the best new private forum for linguists that we have seen. Expertly run by Andy Bell, who lives in Australia, Watercooler is a members-only, advertising-free forum for linguists around the world. Since there's a small barrier to entry in the form of a $25 every six months, you will not have to share the forum with folks who are not serious about the profession. 
  6. And, last but not least, if you'd like to get our Entrepreneurial Linguist book -- the PDF version -- you can download it immediately for $17. 
Happy holidays and merry Christmas to all our colleagues, clients and friends around the world! 

Scam Alert: Omarion Desmond

It's quite a troubling trend that online scams are increasingly targeting our industry, as scammers (mostly incorrectly) assume that linguists work in a vacuum or are not very tech-savvy (another incorrect assumption). Luckily, we have forums like these, in addition to outstanding payment practices lists and black lists, to share information and to educate each other. This month's scam alert comes from our dear colleague and fellow author Cora Bastiaansen of the Netherlands, whom we had the pleasure of meeting at a conference in Utrecht earlier this year. Here's her story in her own words. It is a scam that has been making the rounds in the U.S. and that was the subject of an article in the ATA Chronicle earlier this year:

On November 26, I received an inquiry regarding a large translation job through www.gotranslators.com. Since the gentleman who needed the translation service did not seem to work for a properly registered company, I asked him for some kind of guarantee. He understood my reservations and suggested sending me a check as a deposit.  In addition, he promised me a second assignment at a later point. I was happy and reassured and I waited for part of the 1600 euros, the amount of the first job. His confidence in me must have been enormous, for he sent me a check of 5000 euros, which was, according to him, payment for both jobs, including the costs for cashing the check. Such a decent fellow!
When the check arrived, I was somewhat surprised: so much money, a check from a German bank, an envelope sent from Russia, and no note or letter accompanying it.
I was reluctant to cash the check -- it's almost like I knew something was up. However, keeping it in the house did not feel good either, so I deposited the money into my bank account a few days later.
I received e-mails from the client every day, pushing me to cash the check and asking me about the progress of the translation, which I had not yet started (was that my gut feeling?).
On December 14, I received a message from www.gotranslators.com warning its members of scams. I checked out the black list on their website and found my client's name among the swindlers, most of whom were from Russia (the stamp!).
Then I received another e-mail: the "client" claimed he had acted too fast and his boss had vetoed the second part of the translation. He asked me to send back part of the money via Western Union as soon as possible.
However, the money in my account is not quite mine yet: it is an advance payment from the bank while they wait for the funds to clear.  But I could have accessed the funds, and I would have been able to withdraw the money that my "client" was asking for and send it to him through Western Union. And later, when it would appear that the check that my "client" gave me was a fake, I'd lose a significant amount of money because the bank would immediately reverse the whole 5,000 that they had tentatively authorized. Thanks to GoTranslators' moderators, I made no such Western Union transfer and I did not lose any money. What a relief!  I just contacted my bank, told them about the scam, and I am now waiting for their advice. To be continued...

This is the scammer's original posting:
Sender : Omarion Desmond (omoode1@gmail.com)

Subject : GoTranslators - TRANSLATOR SERVICE NEEDED.
Dear Translator,

I have a 20,000 words on to be translated from English to Dutch. Let me know if you are available and how much it is going to cost.

Omarion Desmond.

The lesson: if it's too good to be true, it probably is. We don't get a lot of fraudulent-sounding inquiries, but when we do, we do a quick online search of the text to be translated and usually quickly find out that it's a Wikipedia entry or some other publicly available text. Such as the case for Cora's "translation" -- she found it online. Thanks to Cora for sharing her experience, and beware of advance payments! Depending on your bank, it might take up to a week or two to verify that the funds do really exist, so even if the money is showing on your account, it's not yours yet. Now: why do banks make the funds available pending verification? Seems to us like they shouldn't, but that's another story. 

If you have another scam report, please share it by leaving a comment or e-mailing us so we can share it with our colleagues around the world. 

Pro Bono Work: Kiva

We oftentimes get questions about how to overcome the typical chicken/egg dilemma: clients want translators to have experience, but they won't hire newcomers to the world of translation without experience. Many times, newcomers make the (poor) choice to take lower rates to get started. The effect is that it destroys the market for the rest of us (think macroeconomics!), and that it's very challenging to raise your rates once you have gained more experience. Thus, starting low is not the way to go. However, how do you get experience?

As many of our readers now, we are strong supporters of our communities and of fighting global poverty through activism, volunteering and by donating to international organizations. One of our favorite causes is microlending to small businesses, many times women-owned, around the world. Several non-profits run these remarkable programs, and Kiva is perhaps the most visible one (although one we haven't donated to). In November, we ran into Naomi Baer, a translator and member of the ATA and NCTA (Northern California Translators Association)  in Denver after the ATA conference. She mentioned a volunteer translator program at Kiva. We think that's a fantastic way to get started in the industry while making our planet a better place to live.

Kiva has millions of words that it needs translated on a continuous basis, especially in languages of lesser diffusion. As is to be expected, there's no budget for paying translators. However, this is a fantastic opportunity for both newcomers and for established translators who want to give back.

Although Kiva's volunteer translation team is currently full (go volunteers!), they are accepting applications for languages that they will need in the future, which include Arabic, Armenian, Bahasa Indonesia, Dari, French, Khmer, Mongolian, Nepali, Pashto, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai, Urdu, Vietnamese. Visit the Kiva Translation Program page for more information. All translations are from the foreign language into English. Kiva also needs volunteers for its Editing Program. 

In-House Translator Position in the Chicago Area

As our dear readers know, we write mainly about linguists who are also entrepreneurs and run their own businesses. However, running a business is difficult (if it were easy, everyone would do it). Hence, working as an in-house translator is a nice alternative (Judy is a recovering in-house translation department manager). Unfortunately, these positions are relatively rare. We just received this posting from our colleague Melissa Ramer, who is the translation manager at the agency in question, Valtera, which is located in the Chicago area.  We asked Melissa to give us a ballpark salary figure -- with the goal of minimizing time wasted for both applicant and hiring agency -- but her HR folks would only say that "salary is commensurate with experience." We are happy to make this information available to our readers, but we have no further information than what is listed below and we are in no way affiliated with the employer (nor do we know, unfortunately, whether it's a great place to work or not). Good luck!

WHO WE ARE:  For more than 30 years, Valtera has provided private and public sector employers with solutions to human resource management needs. We specialize in surveys associated with assessment and selection processes, organizational diagnostics, performance management, and service quality. As a leader in the industry, Valtera is able to attract and retain distinguished and talented professionals who address the unique business needs of each client. Visit www.valtera.com for more information.

OUR CULTURE:  Our employees work collaboratively on teams. We are personally and professionally driven to provide the highest level of service to our clients and are willing to invest personal discretionary efforts to achieve this result. We demonstrate the highest standards of ethics and integrity in every transaction. In exchange for this commitment, our employees receive a competitive salary and generous benefit package.

THE OPPORTUNITY:  We are seeking a talented individual to join our Translation Department. The translation department works with both internal and external clients on large-scale, multi-lingual projects. Tasks include translation, proofreading of translations, managing translation projects, and all associated administrative tasks.

  • Bachelor’s degree in Spanish, Translation studies, or equivalent (Master’s degree a plus)
  • Demonstrated translation experience
  • At least one year in a professional work environment
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office including Word, Access, and Excel (Translation software knowledge a plus)
  • Excellent reading and writing skills in English and Spanish (Additional languages a plus)

Typical success factors for this role include:
·         Managing multiple processes simultaneously and independently
·         Developing and managing project timelines
·         Creating, tracking, and analyzing project information
·         Superior customer service
·         Strong communication and interpersonal skills

This is a full-time, on-site position. No freelance or contractor responses, please. No relocation services are provided.

HOW TO APPLY:  Please submit resume and cover letter with salary expectation via email to hr@valtera.com. Please include “Translator position” in the subject line.

Internships for Spanish & French Translators

Through one of our e-mail lists, we just received a note that the U.S. Department of Justice/INTERPOL has a few openings for Spanish and French translator-interns. Unfortunately, as is the case with most internships, there is no payment offered, which is a bit disheartening. Thus, the DOJ can certainly expect to exclusively attract recent graduates or newcomers to the profession, which might not be the best solution for translations of sensitive materials, but we digress. That said, we are sure the experience would be fantastic. We wanted to share the details of the posting with our colleagues here. Unfortunately, we have no further information -- if you are interested, please contact the person listed below.

Internship Opportunity – INTERPOL Washington

The U.S. National Central Bureau (USNCB) of INTERPOL is offering a limited number of non-paid internship opportunities to Spanish- and French-speaking translators with U.S. government agencies at its headquarters in downtown Washington, DC.

The work, which involves translating written requests for international police assistance, will provide participants with a first-hand understanding of the nature and impact of transnational crime; the legal mechanisms that facilitate and/or impact international law enforcement cooperation, and the issues that affect international criminal investigations and humanitarian assistance efforts.

Certified translators are preferred. Applicants must be proficient in the use of Microsoft Word. Applicants must also be a United States citizen and successfully complete a drug test and security investigation prior to reporting.

To apply, please submit a resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV) with cover letter indicating prospective dates of availability to:

Translator Internship Program
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, DC 20530

Applicants should specify whether or not they have an active U.S. Government security clearance, and at what level. Applications must be postmarked by midnight, Thursday, December 30, 2010. Requests for additional information regarding this opportunity may be directed to Edwin.Quall@usdoj.gov
Join the conversation! Commenting is a great way to become part of the translation and interpretation community. Your comments don’t have to be overly academic to get published. We usually publish all comments that aren't spam, self-promotional or offensive to others. Agreeing or not agreeing with the issue at hand and stating why is a good way to start. Social media is all about interaction, so don’t limit yourself to reading and start commenting! We very much look forward to your comments and insight. Let's learn from each other and continue these important conversations.

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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

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