Irene Koukia is a former International Travel Consultant and current full-time freelance English-Greek-German translator. Irene is also a ProZ.com trainer and mentor, and she is getting certified as a Business Coach and studying Business Administration. She has been invited to present at the upcoming ProZ.com 2014 international conference in Pisa, Italy, that will take place on June 28th and 29th.
How did you get started in translation?
Actually, I always wanted to become a translator, but I was afraid that I would not be able to make a living translating. After some health issues during my former occupation as a Travel Agent, I decided to continue translation studies I had left unfinished a few months before resigning and take it from there. I started to learn actively, attend webinars, perform pro-bono work in order to gain experience. At the same time, I created a web-site, filled out on-line profiles, sent resumes, etc. It took me about six months to get established, but I haven’t stopped working as a translator ever since.
What was the most important obstacle for you to overcome in building your career as a language professional?
Actually, obstacles were more than one, but in a few words, mainly the following:
- extremely low rates and way too long payment terms by translation agencies,
- direct clients that turn out to be fraudulent,
- extremely high taxation and social security expenses,
- insecurity in terms of cash-flow and/or work coming in,
- long hours working,
- and gaining experience in order to become competent.
What is the greatest issue facing translators working in your country or with the languages in which you offer services?
I mainly translate into Greek and German, and I recently moved to Belgium from Greece. The greatest issues I had are mainly:
- Extremely low competition rates into Greek: Greek translators are marketing their rates way too low compared to other countries. In addition, translation agencies offer them even lower rates, thus resulting in problems getting an assignment at a fair price.
- Extremely high taxation and social security expenses: Greek government treats self-employed as ‘thieves’ in general, thus it is very hard to survive as a freelance translator. In addition, if you do work with Greek clients (agencies or direct), you will need to take into account long payment terms and delays due to lack of cash-flow, something that has its roots in Greek taxation policy.
What is your prediction for the future of human translation?
I believe that human translation is something that will always be required. No matter how good automated translation becomes, it can’t replace the human in any case. Automation may help translators work faster, but it will never ever replace them.
You will be presenting in the upcoming ProZ.com international conference in Pisa on the topic of “Thinking of Becoming an Outsourcer? Draft Your Business Plan”. What can conference attendees expect to learn or know from your presentation?
My presentation is about outsourcing. I will highlight all work involved into becoming an outsourcer and provide attendees with useful tips in order to get organized with the minimum possible risk. You already know I am a huge fan of free and/or low-cost software, so you will definitely get some useful tips on that! Of course, I will be very happy to answer on any question. Looking forward to seeing you in Pisa!
ProZ.com international conference in Pisa, Italy
Join Irene and other language professionals on June 28-29 in Pisa, Italy, for the annual ProZ.com 2014 international conference.