• Ellen Worrell

Being interviewed by my mentee, Claire Storey

As part of being a member of the translation community, I am very happy to mentor a newcomer to the industry, Claire Storey. Our mentor/mentee relationship has blossomed into a firm friendship over the past year or so, and I was delighted when Claire asked to interview me for the ITI's IgnITIon publication for students.

What made you decide on a career in translation?

I fell into being a translator really: I originally did an MA in Interpreting and Translation but found out halfway through the first term I was too much of a perfectionist to interpret and my skills were better suited to translation.

How did you get started?

I was lucky enough to get a job as an in-house translator straight after my MA. I spent two happy years there before taking the plunge to go freelance.

You’re an outgoing person but working as a freelancer can be quite lonely. How do you make it work for you?

It can be tough, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Firstly, I’ve met a lot of local linguists via the ITI East Midlands Regional Group and I look forward to our monthly meetings – generally in a pub! Then there’s social media: I feel like I’ve got to know many colleagues through Facebook and Twitter, and I’ve lost track of the number of clients I’ve gained that way. Lastly, I can wholeheartedly recommend a dog – after all, they force you to get out and about, which is absolutely essential, too.

You’ve just won the John Hayes Award. What makes a great translation?

You’ll laugh, but I think Etgar Keret hit the nail on the head: “Translators are like ninjas. If you notice them, they’re no good.”

How did you settle on your specialist subject areas?

Choosing a specialism is tricky, but I grew up with parents working in the furniture industry, and I learnt Spanish in a furniture factory in Mexico, so furniture manufacturing seemed to be a natural fit. Otherwise, I specialise in areas that mean a lot to me personally, especially animal and nature conservation.

I’m just starting out and I worry that if I turn down work from an agency, they won’t come back to me again in the future. What’s your experience of this?

Unless it’s something I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole, I never actively turn down a project. If I can’t do it for the client’s proposed deadline, I’ll always suggest my next best delivery date. That way the client knows you’re doing your best for them. Coming back to work part-time after maternity leave has also shown me clients are willing to wait for you if they desperately want you to handle their translation.

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