If I was a civil engineer, would you still ask...?
I received today another application from someone wanting to work with me, as a translator. As a professional translator. Delivering work to actual clients. Earning money.
The email, a variation of many other I receive daily, reads as follow:
"Hi, my name is T., I currently live in .... , and I'm interested in working as a translator at your website. I don't have much experience (besides translating my own artwork and some school based projects), but I'm really looking forward to an opportunity to practice my English and French, and obtain some experience as well. As a consequence to my lack of experience, I don't really have a price established yet, but I hope that we can figure that out. Finally I hope to get a response soon, thank you for your time!"
It's to the point , in a good enough English and polite, 3 things that are not always true in such emails.
Still, it rubs me the wrong way.
Let's do an exercise and change some words to what they'd mean if my business was civil engineering:
"Hi, my name is T., I currently live in .... , and I'm interested in working as a CIVIL ENGINEER AT YOUR WORKSITE. I don't have much experience BUILDING BRIDGES (besides BUILDING THINGS WITH LEGO AND SOME SCHOOL CONSTRUCTIONS WITH KAPLA AND CARDBOARD), but I'm really looking forward to an opportunity to practice my SKILLS AT MIXING CEMENT AND TRYING WAYS TO STAPLE BRICK, CEMENT AND IRON, and obtain some experience AT PUTTING TOGETHER A BRIDGE FOR TRUCKS AND CARS TO CROSS THAT RIVER WITHOUT PROPER TRAINING FOR IT, WITHOUT INSURANCE OR BUSINESS COSTS. As a consequence to my lack of experience AND LACK OF PROPER TRAINING AND LACK OF INVESTMENT IN THIS PROFESSION, I don't really have ANY IDEA HOW TO BUDGET MY EXPENSES, THE MATERIAL I NEED TO BUY AND THE VALUE OF MY WORK, but I hope that YOU CAN TELL ME ALL YOUR TRADE SECRETS SO I CAN GO AND ASK LESS AND GET YOUR CLIENTS. Finally I hope to get a response soon AS I NEED MONEY ASAP AND THIS IS SUCH AN EASY JOB, thank you for THE TIME YOU ARE GOING TO SPEND MENTORING ME FOR FREE WHILE STILL DOING YOUR OWN JOB!"
The saddest part of this misconception about what it takes to be a translator or an interpreter, is that it is commonly thought that anyone who speaks languages can do it. That it's easy. That there are only some business tricks to it and no training or true talent is needed. That it's really not that hard.
It is so commonly though that not one of those candidates sees the absurd of their requests, and it's not entirely their fault (besides the fact that some are profoundly clueless of the working world regardless of the area) when official professional sites, like employment agencies, offer advices on how to "make some money translating from home if you are unemployed and know a bit of X or Y language".
So, dear wannabe translator or interpreter, do yourself a favor, go get some training, there are plenty universities and professional workshops for specialisation, go read testimonies of seasoned professionals, get into chat groups to get a grasp of the profession.
Look for a (properly compensated) mentor, get some work done, deal with unhappy clients, get some praises for a work well done, get turned down 20 times before managing to get that contract you wanted, spend a few nights working to meet deadlines, struggle to get your payments on your bank account to pay your bills and rejoice when that huge invoice is paid in full before term... and then, then yes, come and see me.
I'll be happy to coach you further and work alongside on real projects with real clients earning you the money you'll deserve.
Welcome the this wonderful profession.