If you’re starting off the new year with some resolutions, why not add some CPD ones? They’re actually perfect as SMART targets – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely – so you’ll be more likely to stick to them!
There are plenty of providers out there, my favourites being the ITI and the language, regional and subject-specific groups as well as eCPD webinars. You could attend a workshop or webinar learning about something lecture-style or you could try out one of the mentoring schemes that some of the ITI groups run and actually get feedback on your translations, in a new area, for example. That’s what I did when I took part in the ITI German Network’s mentoring scheme. It was a great opportunity and I can highly recommend it!
I wrote about it for the GerNet Netzblatt in June 2017, if you missed it you can read it here too:
I entered translation as a bit of a generalist and was quite conscious that I would probably do better (read: earn more money!) by specialising. So, when an agency I had been working for asked me to take a test for some financial work they were expecting, I gave it a go and was accepted. The work never materialised from the agency but I did start investigating the field; I took some courses, did a few financial translations and proofread some annual reports, but I needed to do more.
I had been considering the GerNet mentoring scheme for a while, and finally took the plunge in the summer of 2016 when I thought work would be quieter. The GerNet coordinator paired me with Laura Byrne, a German to English translator who worked as a financial analyst in a former life. After being assigned to each other we had a Skype conversation to discuss the kind of areas I was interested in and for Laura to find out about my prior knowledge. The idea was to build on what I already knew and Laura managed to find texts that did just that.
The first two texts were very similar but meant that what I learned in the first one, I was able to put into practice in the second, something I found really useful – how often do we learn things and forget them by the next time we need them? So I liked this approach because it helped cement my knowledge. The third text was a slightly different area and a lot more challenging.
Overall we worked together for seven months, allowing up to a month for a piece of work at busy times. I know that’s unusual in the industry, but I couldn’t see the point in rushing a translation to a meet a short deadline and not learn anything from it – for me it was a learning process; I wanted to read through the text, look up terminology and research around the subject a bit before actually translating. Fortunately Laura shared this opinion and could be flexible around deadlines too, often revising my work within a couple of days. Overall I spent far more time on it than I am allowed to put on my CPD record, but it was much more worthwhile.
One of the first things I learned from Laura was about style. My impression of financial writing – limited as it was to the financial press – was that it uses a lot of idiom and metaphor. I thought that if the German used different words to express certain ideas, I would have to do the same – and here I’m mainly thinking of terms like increase/decrease which came up a lot in all three texts. But Laura pointed out that her experience reading and writing lengthy documents as an analyst had taught her that ‘clarity’ is the guiding principle, because as she said, investors or analysts need to “absorb the information as painlessly as possible”. So while it’s nice to be able to dress up a text with synonyms and metaphor, clarity should always take priority for these types of texts.
Naturally, there were many specifics that Laura helped me with; from explaining that I shouldn’t use documents from banks for building a financial corpus (their structures tend to be much more complicated than a simple limited business), to how best to translate anything with Konjunktur in it – despite having studied modules on ‘German economy’ at university, I have never felt comfortable translating this term, but Laura gave me some great tips to deal with it confidently in future. She also explained the difference and when/how to use terms that may seem interchangeable to the untrained eye e.g. Aktien/Renten/Anleihen/Securities…
From the first Skype conversation and throughout the mentoring, Laura sent me a wealth of useful links, and recommendations or suggestions for further reading – this has been one of the most useful things about the mentoring scheme for me, because I can continue to progress with this guided learning – now I just need the time!
Other topics we discussed were possible approaches for getting financial work as a newbie to the field, who to trust or not on dict.cc (which has a large financial section) and the merits of Dragon.
Of course, I know I still have a lot to learn about finance to be able to call myself an expert, but the scheme gave me the reassurance that I was looking for: I am not ill-suited to this type of work and I do have some flair for it. I learned so much from the mentoring, it really was an invaluable experience and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to up their game!
Good luck and all the best for a happy, healthy and successful 2018!