Everyone has to start somewhere. What about you? Reply

As they say, everyone has to start somewhere. And, with ProZ.com’s 2016 international conference just over a month away, I was curious to know how exactly the event speakers got started in their careers as professional translators and interpreters. Here’s what I found out:


Tanya Quintieri
Country: Czech Republic
Session: The Outsourcing Freelancer: Outsourcing in the context of workload & CRM (Client Relationship Management)
Outsourcing freelancer at The Translators, President of the DVÜD e. V., organizer of events for translators and interpreters. Certified translator (CoC) for German and English, specialized in marketing and transcreation. Mentor and mentee, blogger and digital native.

“How I got started in translation? I was in school for business administration and worked at a restaurant 5 nights a weeks to keep the money coming in. I had two small children at the time and I was hardly at home. I came across an ad one day in a local newspaper: An IT company was looking for a freelance translator for German into English. I had no idea about the translation business, but I figured I would give it a shot, after all, I was raised bilingual, and this seemed like a good opportunity to make more money with less work, from the comfort of my home. Little did I know back then that this does not automatically make you a good translator. This was back in 2002. Ever since, I have come a long way. It took me about 7 years to understand what translation is, what it needs to be professional, how to deal with translation buyers… Today, I head an association for freelance translators, I have some pretty cool clients in my client base, I no longer work 12+ hours a day nor 7 days a week, and I outsource quite a lot. But the best thing is, I still work with that very first client from back then.”

3099d458a25cea759387f1ced54cd0a5_judypetersonJudy Peterson
Country: Sweden
Session: Are you ready to edit? – Typical problems fixed by professional editors
Since 1984, Judy Petersen has been (1) writing, editing, indexing, translating, and planning publications; (2) managing publication projects; and (3) training writers, editors, and translators.

“I started my business while on maternity leave from IBM where I had worked as a technical writer, editor, and production manager. My plan was to become a highly paid freelance copywriter and editor for a handful of international ad agencies. Instead, they kept sending me stuff that needed translation. One client even told me that he wanted “sexy” – and not direct translation. So that’s what I delivered – and still deliver.”

1639697_r56cebb0698fa5Robin Joensuu
Country: Germany
Session: The art of giving and receiving substantial feedback
Robin Joensuu is an English into Swedish translator mainly working in the fields of IT, telecom, marketing, and engineering. He holds a Master of Arts in Literature, Culture and Media (Lund University), and has studied various additional university courses in different ways related to his line of work.

“You could say I got started in translation by chance. I had just received my MA degree in literature when I met my girlfriend and left Sweden for Berlin, Germany to be with her, planning to find a job as a bartender or as a hostel cleaner. Soon after my arrival, a friend of mine told me that what I now know is one of the worst and most notorious bottom feeder agencies were looking for English into Swedish translators. Since I had studied English, Swedish, and creative writing at the university, I applied and got accepted.

I knew absolutely nothing about the ‘translation industry’ and I was constantly looking for alternatives, because my work conditions were awful. I had no idea that you could make real money from translation and I constantly felt like I was fumbling around in the dark. But after a while of hard work I got over the threshold to the mid-market segment, I realized I was pretty good at my job, and things started working out really well. I have never looked back since and I have no intention of changing profession. This is the best job in the world.”

805aacd319440ad103fc09c77a0bf992_Erin_LyonsErin Lyons
Country: United States/Sweden
Erin M. Lyons is a French and Italian to English translator, medical writer and consultant, business owner, and an Adjunct Professor of Translation at the University of Maryland. Having recently moved to Stockholm, Erin is the local organizer of ProZ.com’s 2016 international conference.

“Right out of university, I started teaching English in Rome. I was assigned to teach English at a company to the marketing executives and when they discovered that I was multilingual, they asked me to try out some translations for them. I had no experience in translation, but really enjoyed the challenge and research. After spending a few years translating at the company, I went back to university to do my Master’s in Translation and have never looked back.”


How did you get started as a translator? Was it something you planned, or was it a career that you fell into? Share your “getting started” story in the comments section below or in this thread on the event’s Facebook page.

There’s still time to register to attend ProZ.com’s 2016 international conference on September 3rd and 4th in Stockholm, Sweden. Reserve your seat today at: http://www.proz.com/conference/683

And don’t forget to watch Erin’s video invitation to the conference here:

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