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  • Writer's pictureKaren Pérez Herrera

THE PATH TO THE TRANSLATOR'S SUCCESS


My translation professor used to remind us, "the translator's profession isn't glamorous." Who's there to applaud and cheer when you finally nail the right term or expression? Not many (maybe a handful of family or close colleagues, if you're lucky). You celebrate your triumphs in solitude, behind the screen. I've been there myself, a fledgling in the field, receiving an email from a client or agency, eager to tell the world how important and useful I feel. But few pay attention to such achievements. It's not like performing intricate surgery or winning a film award. No, we're the unsung heroes behind the scenes, shaping communication, making things happen. Oops! There I go, slipping into my god complex...




Achieving success in this profession seems like a mission impossible for many, especially for those who are just starting out. We are immersed in a world that insists freelance jobs lead nowhere, that there's no future in translation, that we'll have to leave the country, that, maybe, just maybe, we'll get a chance on some cruise ship or hotel. Have you ever stopped to think about the immense quantity of texts that exist, and even more incredibly, the number of texts being created or yet to be created? In a fully globalized, connected world, the role of translators is indispensable. I stress the word "indispensable" because even I have fallen into that almost lethargic state of believing there's nothing, that I'm in a desert without water, without food, without opportunities.


It's important to emphasize the point of globalization because, believe it or not, there are still companies trying to emerge without using translators to translate their content or, even worse, resorting to automatic translations. Best luck to them! Keep in mind that often you'll have to explain why they need a human touch and high-quality translator... And you'll have the privilege of showing them every example available of people who learned the hard way that what comes cheaply often proves costly in the end.



Success, in any field, is deeply personal and varies greatly from one individual to another. It can range from driving traffic to your website, to amassing wealth, winning awards, or whatever you can think of. However, one thing is certain: the journey to success is difficult, demanding immense perseverance, patience, and self-belief to keep moving forward without relenting.


I vividly recall a conversation with a former classmate who lamented not yet securing a job despite trying so hard... I was prepared to offer her all my insights, drawn from my own limited experience, because come on! Trying so hard for nothing? That's when I posed the million-dollar question: "how long have you been at it?" Her response? "Two weeks." Two weeks?! I was taken aback. At that point, I had been striving for four months, submitting resumes for every translation opportunity that aligned with my skills, at least four applications a day. And only after those four months, did I start to see progress, however modest; something was stirring, evolving—it wasn't a deluge, but rather a steady drip.


I even find it amusing every time I receive a response from a potential client regarding a message I sent, the date of which I don't even remember. I'll inform my partner, "Hey, I heard back about a job application," or "Tomorrow, they're scheduling a Skype interview for a position I applied for like two months ago, though I can't quite recall the specifics." It's bewildering to think that some people get frustrated after just two weeks of endeavor. I still receive feedback from tests I undertook months prior! I've even come across accounts of translators receiving replies from applications submitted a year ago. The crux of the matter is not to idly await a response to the lone job application you've made. And worse yet, refrain from succumbing to frustration if they say "no, thank you." Don't allow it.



There are days filled with color─today happens to be one of them, finally─when you're filled with inspiration and you might even feel inclined to translate a Turkish novel for your mom because on those days, everything feels possible. Conversely, there are gray days, very gray indeed, when you can't help but question why you didn't follow the path of health as your family desired. the most important thing through all of this is to ensure that you're pursuing what truly ignites your passion and love, and this will eventually (hopefully soon!) lead you to success. Never waste your time on something you knew from the start you didn't enjoy.


As for my own journey, it's just beginning, but I felt it was important to demonstrate that there's no need to wait many years to start tasting success, as is often presumed in our profession. You can begin crafting it now, one step at a time, steadily and surely. Just keep pushing forward; every small effort adds up.

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