Welcome to the Lion’s Mouth
Back when I looked like this (the guy, not the critter), I had developed a mild interest in becoming a translator. As a language teacher, I was presented with sporadic opportunities to translate documents for my school district and to interpret at parent-teacher conferences. Some of my work was even published! But man, did I have a lot to learn. A LOT. I was putting my inexperienced pate into the lion’s mouth (the lion being the language service industry) without any idea of how to proceed. I just did things my way, not the way they needed to be done. Fortunately, the lion spared me from being chewed up and spit out.
I had never heard of Computer-Assisted Translation or Translation Memory (Open Office was all I needed). I was ignorant of the most rudimentary industry ethics and standards. Machine Translation was the ultimate evil. And I was blissfully unaware that I was not sufficiently competent, or knowledgable enough, to translate into my second language. I thought I knew it all. I’m here to tell you that I did not. In a myriad of ways, I still don’t and never will. What I have become is aware.
If you are a would-be language service provider, please, PLEASE, take the time to educate yourself. Research the industry thoroughly, take an introductory class in translation or interpreting, develop your basic computer and technological skills, watch tutorials, attend local association events, and make sure you are taking time to develop both your source and target languages on a daily basis. (If you don’t know what these terms mean, look them up). The more you research, the more you will want to know, and the better you will become.
Your interest is the starting point. You are already there. Even though you will never fully arrive, you’re sure to improve, become marketable, and most important, to become aware of your direction, your strengths, and your place (if you have one) in the language industry.