By Sonora Bogdanova and Anna Rudzīte (current students, Ventspils University of Applied Sciences, Latvia)
It is a commonly known fact that seeking information is a daily task for a translator, but in order to succeed in the field we also have to seek knowledge. The famous professor emeritus of English at the New York University School of Engineering Atwood H. Townsend says: “No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” And being a translator means being busy – even if we aren’t sitting by our computers, we still have a translation problem or two in our minds.
In this article, we will discuss the motivation, experience and outcomes of the studies in Master’s programme Translation of LSP texts at the Ventspils University of Applied Sciences. In 2021, students from all around Latvia, both experienced translators and language enthusiasts willing to enter the world of translation, joined the programme. Getting a Master’s degree without any cost truly is a luxury only few can afford, though it does come with some hardships. The first semester has passed and one third of us have left the studies, but the ones still standing are convinced that the gains overpower sacrificing time with our families and for ourselves and a proper sleep schedule. In order to find out what helps us to stay focused on studies, we asked our fellow students, what are the gains from Translation of LSP texts and how it benefits us to stand out in the labour market.
The studies provide us with In-depth theoretical knowledge and deeper insight in translation as a science. Students get to participate in national and international conferences in which we not only broaden our horizons, but are also encouraged to reflect on our academic career. There is constant encouragement from lecturers for students to explore self-development, to further educate themselves on certain topics of interest, acquire certifications and new knowledge even if it is not in the curriculum. This way we become more self-assured and confident about our abilities.
The theoretical aspects of translation greatly supplement the practical skills when translating texts of different specialisations, thus the experienced translators have a chance to add a discipline or two, but the newcomers can find the translation field that best matches their interest. Thanks to helpful lecturers and coursemates, there is constant and natural networking of experiences and dissemination of knowledge. Guest lecturers of various language-related professions share their experience and help us gain insight into various fields of translator’s work and daily life, as well as give ideas and suggestions for developing our career. Another fundamental benefit is the possibility to learn about the different aspects of jobs done by translators, project managers and editor and a chance to try out various paid software (Memsource, Trados, XTRF, etc.), other Internet resources (e.g. Linguee, Britannica) and library facilities. Extra attention is paid to the correct use of the resources and their in-depth study, therefore we also learn how to save our time and use it more efficiently. Lecturers also introduce students to proper use of translation memories, termbases and new tools that help both translation and research (zotero, academia.edu, etc.).
As said by the students of the programme, internship plays a crucial role in shaping new translators. It allows us to explore the industry, test our abilities, and figure out our specific interests. Even though the studies are mostly practical, before the internship some students have no real idea of what working in a translation agency would really be like. The internship gives students an insight into the daily life of a translator, an opportunity to experience both the pros and cons before fully committing to the profession. Some of the students have mentioned that it also inspires them to learn more about a certain field of translation. It is an opportunity to learn from industry professionals in a safe environment. Moreover, it was also mentioned that some students consider continuing their career in the company or institution of the internship.
After the studies, it is also important to make a decision, whether to work as a freelance translator, or an employee. Although there are a lot of perks working as a freelancer, such as flexibility over work load, clients and location, it must be considered that among other disadvantages being a freelancer also limits the career opportunities.
The quality of the studies at the Ventspils University of Applied Sciences is evidenced by the fact that the majority of students are invited to continue their cooperation with the companies or institutions of their internship. For that, we must thank both the developers of the programme, the lecturers and also the University which has been able to attract such talented professionals, who help to nurture future translators and retain them in the translation labour market.