2.2 Giving back
Many translators are involved in pro bono work, contributing their skills and time to supporting others in the profession or to various causes. This is sometimes referred to as ‘giving back’ or ‘professional contribution’, and the Institute of Translators and Interpreters in the UK regards it as part of their members’ Continuous Professional Development (CPD).
Now read the account below, where translator and OU graduate Keith Baddeley talks about his experience of volunteering.
During my MA in Specialised Translation, a guest speaker talked about the benefit of volunteering in relation to gaining practical experience – many agencies require one, two, three or more years’ translation experience before they will allow you to register with them. She mentioned a Spanish magazine concerned with social inclusion, cooperation and support, and care for the environment. They were planning to launch an English-language version and were looking for new ES>EN translators to help them out.
I worked with the magazine’s editor-in-chief and a team of volunteer translators for several months, and I translated a number of articles including one on sustainable architecture and an interview with the linguist and political activist, Noam Chomsky. I also proofread texts translated by others working on the project. This was invaluable experience for a newly trained translator whose aim was to go straight into freelancing, particularly in terms of understanding the process (translation, self-checking/editing, revision by another translator – the ‘four-eyes’ principle), working to deadlines, having something to put on my CV and gaining a worthwhile referee in the editor-in-chief, who certainly helped me win my first few agency clients.
I have also translated on a voluntary basis for, an organisation that connects language volunteers with non-profit organisations that work with under-served communities, providing access to language services that would otherwise be unavailable to them. For them, I have translated details of IT courses, training programmes and project proposals, from Spanish and French into English.
There are many other organisations that need volunteer translators as well as those that act as a network, such as Translators Without Borders – although they require a minimum of two years’ translation experience. I intend to do more in the future – it feels good to be doing something positive, to use my skills for the good of others.