Starting as a Translator: Unpaid jobs

‘If you are good in something, never do it for free.’ Correct? God, I wish things were that easy. For all the young people starting their career paths or for the ones that decided to start from zero, we all know how difficult it is to find a job without experience. This is that famous and endless circle: without experience you don’t find a job, but without a job you don’t have experience! And let’s face it, you do not have experience. So even if  you start a paid job you will commit many mistakes, because there is a learning curve. However, you might risk to loose a nice opportunity because you did not develop that skills before. So why do not help others in a way that will be beneficial for you and for that organisation, body or company?

On-site volunteering:

You might not find an in-house Translation volunteer job, but you can find related opportunities in the languages field. An immigrant teaching volunteer, for example, gives you the opportunity to use and improve yourself in your mother tongue or second language, while you are inserted in a different culture. You will be using grammar and speaking. Or you can work in customer service with your second language, which will also boost your speaking. It sounds interesting because it is. Besides, most of us don’t even need to leave our countries to do that. Plus, usually in a volunteer position of this type you will have more freedom, since you will be working just for a few hours during the week or weekends. So in the meantime you can continue looking for different job-related opportunities. For volunteer jobs in the Republic of Ireland check out this website here.

Online volunteering:

There are many online translation volunteering out there. The Rosetta Foundation is from far the most famous one. The good side is that anyone can apply and start working straight away. The bad side is that you are not chosen for that job, so while you are working, others maybe be translating the same text as you. It means that if you find the text you want to translate, you will need to work on it fast before somebody else finishes before you. Another one that I like is Per Mondo. Here you will sign up as a volunteer and will wait until somebody assigns you a job by email. The bad side is that this may take months to happen. However, I received jobs from this website three times, so I recommend you to try. The Translators Without Borders is also very well known. You register online easily, and after a couple of days they send you the answer. You might do a translation test before starting as well. Do you know TED? And do you also know that their translators are volunteers? Well, I didn’t. The bad side here is that if you don’t have experience in doing subtitles, it is going to be more difficult for you. The good side is that they have videos explaining how to do subtitles! So it may be a chance to learn something new and work for a big and awesome company. Perhaps in the end you will like subtitling and find the field you want to work for. Who knows.

Unpaid internship:

This is like a volunteer, the only difference is that you will probably need to confirm your degree/graduation and your hours will be the same as a payed job – working full-time during five to seven days per week. Probably because of this, an internship in your curriculum is much more appreciated than a volunteer for most employers. If the internship is payed, even if just for basic expenses as transport and lunch, even better, but most of them are not. Again, the important is to learn and keep working in the field you chose. You can find internships in the usual job search websites such as Indeed and, for instance. You may also be rejected for the internship that you chose, because it is a job like any other. The secret is to do not stop trying!

With persistence and a bit of confidence, you will start having your experience little by little. Everything takes time. Once you chose what you love and decide to do it for the rest of your life, just keep doing it. This also shows your commitment and passion for that field, which will also help you to have more job opportunities! Besides, during your volunteer or internship, it might happen that they like you and hire you. And that’s how your career begins.

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6 Replies to “Starting as a Translator: Unpaid jobs”

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