As you may know, for more than two years I’ve featured monthly guest interviews with a translator on this blog.
Currently, the blog HISPAFRA is written mostly in French. I’ve decided however to offer most guest articles in English as that is the communicative idiom of translators.
In this way, a wider range of translators will be able to enjoy these articles.
This month, I invite you to get to know an instructive profile. Carol Bidwell answered the guest article’s questions. Thank you Carol!
NAME: Carol Bidwell
PROFESSION: Freelance translator
WORK LANGUAGES: French and German into English
PLACE OF RESIDENCE AND WORK: Reims, in the Champagne region of France
What kind of translation work do you do and what type of clients do you work with?
I focus on medical and pharmaceutical translations, with some business thrown in there too. My client mix is currently 70% agencies and 30% direct clients (laboratories, medical communication agencies… ).
I’m also working on a new project, BioCell Translations, which aims to bring specialised French<>English translations to the medical biotechnology sector. Four of us are working together to develop this new business, and it’s very exciting!
Can you provide a brief description of your typical work day?
I try to keep to a fairly strict routine in my work – when I first started out I was very disorganised and it quickly tired me out! Now, I begin work at 8am, answering emails and proofreading the work I did the previous day. I work best in the morning, so I power through until 12:30, when I have lunch and try to get outside (at least in the summer) for a quick walk. My ‘afternoon shift’ then consists of translating and any admin tasks until 6:30, when I switch off for the day. Obviously if I have anything particularly urgent I work earlier/later and at weekends, but that’s a rarity really.
What aspects of your profession do you enjoy most?
The challenge of translating! I love playing with words and meanings, really getting inside the text and transforming it.
I also love knowing that my work opens doors for people around the world and gives them access to information they wouldn’t otherwise have.
Which aspects do you least enjoy?
Admin! Here in France, the land of complicated bureaucracy, it takes quite a lot of time per month to get my accounts in order and ensure all my paperwork is as it should be.
At first, I also found it quite lonely, but since then I’ve built up a network of colleagues I speak to regularly, both online and ‘in real life’, and I also go to a coworking space where I meet lots of interesting people, so I find it much less isolating now!
How long have you been working as a translator?
In November I’ll be celebrating 5 years as a translator!
Did you in fact study to become a translator? If not, what did you study originally?
Yes – I did a BA in French and German at the University of Manchester, and then continued with my Masters in Translation and Interpreting Studies there.
What is your career path? Why did you make the decision to work as a translator?
During my year abroad for my undergrad degree, I worked for a translation agency in Germany. I realised I loved translation (project management, not so much) and as soon as I got back to the UK, I found a mentor who helped me start working as a freelancer. I gradually moved into medicine as a speciality based on my personal interest in the field and my family background (I come from a family of doctors, I’m the odd one out!) it just seemed natural!
I’ve recently taken on a role as regional representative for the French Translation Society, which for me is a way to give something back to the translation community and help raise awareness of the profession.
Is translation your sole professional occupation? If not, in what other fields are you involved?
It’s my sole activity. I couldn’t find time for anything else!
Spanish and English > French translator
French and Spanish teacher (face-to-face/Skype)