Years ago, we used to get asked:”My daughter is studying Chinese, could you employ her…” or “My son speaks Chinese, how can he work as a translator at Chin?” They would not have any experience or training as a translator, but the misconception still exists that all there is to translation is some competence in two languages! Even today, we often receive enquiries from our Sina Weibo (Chinese equivalent of both Twitter and Facebook) followers, both in Australia and mainland China, asking how could they possibly get an internship or work with us.
Most of the time, we plan our recruitment based on our workload and our capacity. However at Chin Communications we have a pretty tough selection process. Most of our translators have professional postgraduate training in Translating. Each member of our team needs to be really good with language – we test them – bilinguality is just a starting point! Apart from this, we look for people who are enthusiastic, with a good sense of humour; team players who are keen to soak up knowledge. In addition, good references and a resume demonstrating well-rounded abilities and interests, and they need to speak up well and be good communicators.
Many people would respond to above criteria by saying ‘That’s easy, I believe I am a hard working person and a good team player with excellent communication skills’. Well, think it over again. Here at Chin Communications we have our own interpretation of these criteria.
• Hard working and enthusiastic – this does not mean we require the candidate to work overtime every day, maybe occasionally, because meeting client deadlines is one of our top priorities. However at Chin Communications we respect our staff’s personal time and private life, we want our staff to come to the office with energy and fully rested. It is more about whether that person is able to put himself/herself in our client’s shoes and think about a client’s expectations when handling a job, and how the candidate can exceed client expectations by taking the extra steps.
• Team player – working at Chin Communications is very different from working as a freelancer at home. As a freelancer he or she will have control of his/her time and his/her own approach to the job. When working at Chin as part of the team, staff will have to follow our procedures and collaborate with other project managers and translators. It could mean that he/she will need to understand and follow rules such as confidentiality, our reviewing process, prioritising his/her tasks based on project managers’ briefs, etc. Being a team player is far more complex than simply ‘getting along with everybody in the office’- how to deliver the job with the highest standard and on time is always our top priority.
• Good potential and ability to learn – when we select our interns or candidates, we always look at their potential, this is because our job also requires other skills such as research, design & typesetting, negotiation with clients and client education and expectation management. We encourage our team members to speak up and also seek feedback from senior team members on a regular basis so we can provide support and guidance to help them grow as well.
Below are some of our top tips to get a top internship or placement, or indeed ‘Win’ a Scholarship as a Translator:
1. Get in early – right at the start of your course, seek out workplaces that are relevant and well regarded and make a ‘pitch’ to them. Make yourself stand out!
2. Don’t give up – let the prospective employer know what you are doing, good stories/results and give them helpful feedback or information from your training and observations
3. Study hard and get good results, of course, and let your prospective employer know
4. Extra-curricular counts – it could be that you are running and writing your personal blog about your own translation work on a regular basis or doing some good deeds out there
5. Always have a go – someone wants a ‘volunteer’ – always put your hand up and write about your experience too
6. Develop and build up your vocabulary and develop a good understanding of Australia/or the local area that you are aiming to work in
7. Dress well, firm handshake and eye contact when you meet a prospective employer
8. Reinforce your desire to be a translator and interpreter – not as a stepping stone, or because you couldn’t think of anything else to study!
9. Build up your industry connections by attending events and networking opportunities – events like the Translating and Interpreting Expo at Monash University are a great way to see what kind of work opportunities are out there and to make a good impression. A CV and ‘Mission Statement’ on hand, a handshake and good eye contact and professional presentation all make an impact. Recently, Monash University held the first such Expo at its Caulfield campus and around 100 students and graduates gathered to make contact with over 10 potential employers. At the same time Chin Communications’ Managing Director, Charles Qin, presented the first two Chin Communications scholarships to Monash Master of Translating and Interpreting recipients. The scholarship – the first of its kind in the interpreting and translating discipline – was awarded to two Master students, Shan-Ying Li and Della Yi Dai. At Chin Communications, we established the scholarship in 2012 to mark 20 years in the translating and interpreting business – as recognition of the importance of good training to produce good practitioners.
Currently, Shan is benefitting from a placement with Chin where she is learning how a translator (and interpreter) works in practice and under supervision producing good work helping our team meet its many daily deadlines. Della and other Monash students are lining up to get a head start in this profession with placements to follow.
The part two of this article series will feature a new full time employee (who started as an intern with Chin and then a casual staff member) Marcus Xiaokang Liu, as a case study of the above pointers on how to succeed as a Translator. Marcus worked with us in 2012 as part of his Monash Master program. We chose him because of his strong language skills, enthusiasm and fit and he hasn’t looked back! Marcus was warmly welcomed full time into the Chin fold as soon as he finished his study and is now an important member of our Chinese translator team.