NAME: Lottie Valks
WORK LANGUAGES: French, Spanish and Russian into English
PLACE OF RESIDENCE AND WORK: Nottingham, UK
What kind of translation work do you do and what type of clients do you work with?
I specialise in marketing, travel/tourism, arts/theatre and environment translations. I’m still quite a newbie so I’m working on honing my skills across a range of topics within my capabilities and plan to specialise further once I have built up my client base. I mainly work with agency clients.
Can you provide a brief description of a typical work day?
My office hours are 9am to 5pm UK time and I either work from home or at a co-working space. I still live in my university town and am very lucky as the University of Nottingham has a business hub for current students and alumni who are entrepreneurs. This means I have access to a desk and their facilities on a beautiful campus for free! I also find I’m more productive when I leave the house to work but it’s nice to have the option to stay indoors when it’s cold and rainy outside (typical British weather!). I usually start the day by checking my emails and dealing with any small admin tasks on my to-do list, followed by half an hour to an hour on marketing and social media. Then I get down to the translation projects I have booked in or any other larger tasks I have set myself for the day, such as watching CPD webinars, researching networking events or updating my accounts.
What aspects of your profession do you enjoy most?
I love learning new things so translating seems to be the perfect profession for me! I’m always learning whether I’m researching a topic for a translation project, taking a CPD course or working out other aspects of my business. This first year has been full of challenges I have been able to learn from; although I have a degree in translation and years of experience working within the industry, I had never run a business before October last year, so I’ve had to learn lots about the other aspects of freelancing, such as marketing and accounting. The fact that I can build my career using the languages that I love and learning something new every day is very exciting!
Which aspects do you least enjoy?
The thing I find most difficult about working as a translator is how little the general public understand our profession. When people ask me what I do, I get all sorts of frustrating responses, ranging from “Oh, so you translate for people in court?” to “Great, I speak Greek, can you give me work?” to “You’re so lucky you can work from home, that must be really easy!”. However, I see this as just another challenge that is part of our work and try to give people a better understanding of what translators (and interpreters!) do and why it is so important to employ professional translators. I can see why people find it confusing, particularly in the UK where there isn’t much of a focus on foreign languages in general, so I usually try to explain the importance of professional translation in a way they’ll remember, such as funny translation mishaps I’ve read about or shocking translation-related news stories.
How long have you been working as a translator?
I’ve been working full-time as a translator for almost 1 year. Before that, I worked in-house at a large UK language service provider as a translation administrative coordinator.
Does this work fit with your initial studies? Did you in fact study to become a translator?
Yes, I studied for a BA in Modern Language Studies between 2009 and 2013 and then completed an MA in Translation Studies, graduating in 2014.
What is your career path? Why did you make the decision to work as a translator?
I had always been interested in working as a translator but, following my MA degree, there did not seem to be many in-house positions in the UK and I did not feel ready to start freelancing right away, so I started to apply for project management positions. I don’t regret taking on a more administrative role for the first couple of years of my career, as I learnt so much about the industry, CAT tools and how LSPs work, plus it gave me time to accrue some savings. However, after a while, I started to miss using my language skills and I didn’t feel fulfilled by the role. This drove me to set up my freelance business and I started translating full-time in October 2016.
English and Spanish > French translator
French and Spanish teacher (face-to-face/Skype)