Friday, 29 March 2013

Career development

I spend some of my time working as a translator from my wife's language to my mother tongue.

It is a very useful skill to have, particularly as I am freelance so can choose when to work (or rather choose when not to work - turning down a contract is in my hands, whereas conjuring some up when things are quiet is a challenge). As I work over the internet, it is also a job I can do anywhere in the world and in a wide variety of settings (such as while travelling).

This career development arose through my circumstances as I became fluent in my wife's language, but it was not my first attempt to find a job I could do that fitted with our somewhat nomadic existence between our two countries.

In fact, I also tried the following over the past decade or so:
  • Language teaching (I have had a few friends as students, but did not have the qualifications or settled lifestyle to join a language school);
  • Radio journalist (I did pick up one job as a fixer for a specific radio programme, but it didn't lead to a new career on the radio waves);
  • TV documentary maker (Someone offered me commission if I could interest tourist destinations in having a film made for a regional TV programme - but as it was really a vanity project where they charged the venues featured the town I picked to try this out wasn't favourable);
  • Clothing import/export (We took some clothing from my wife's country to my own and I ran a weekend market stall for three months, but the styles weren't popular there or at the shops I tried to interest);
  • Accessories import/export (I managed a few orders for small accessory items, but it didn't take off as the international business I hoped, even with a place that took our stock on sale or return and trying through an online shopping site);
  • Consultant (I continue to work in my professional area on a part-time contract and have managed a few consultancy contracts in related areas, running training courses, setting up websites, producing publications, but these have proved insufficient to fill the rest of my time);
  • Blogging (This and other blogs I occassionally write are labours of love rather than for making money - which is just as well, as they make no money!);
It is sometimes said that success comes from not being beaten by failure.

In the same spirit as the above, I emailed a load of websites just over five years ago offering to translate them into my mother tongue. One responded and I had my first translation contract.

I then joined a translators' website and gained other work - though quickly learned people seeking translators through the site were looking for the lowest price. This was good for experience and kept me busy, but was not well paid. So I decided to become qualified, did a distance education course and passed the translation exam.

Now translation fills the rest of my working time and is at least half my income.

Any of the above ideas could have worked - and may have done so if the cards had fallen differently or I had persevered or innovated for a longer time - or simply had more aptitude.

I feel fortunate now to have this skill and employment as a translator, but every one of these enterprises was a fork in the road that could have led me in a different direction.

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