Post 7: Translating is not the only thing translators can do…

The idea for this blog post came from an excellent presentation given by Isabel Espuelas at the conference held in Barcelona in December 2014 entitled Traducir no es lo único que puede hacer un traductor (Translation is not the only thing a translator can do). 

Isabel explained that while there are many of us who actually enjoy spending the whole day in front of the computer, translating and producing beautiful documents (can I get whoop-whoop for us desk slaves who love doing this?!), there are other translators among us who for whatever reason (contact with others, economic motivations, etc.) prefer to combine translation with another discipline. And that variety is spice of this wonderful life! Isabel gave the example of Scheherezade Surià, who incorporates audiovisual and literary translation with giving English classes. Isabel herself is another example of this; she felt that she had solid business skills she could take advantage of as a translator, and so she started up as a translation project coordinator. During her presentation, Isabel gave us an insightful look into her world and delved deep into the how to coordinating clients’ projects effectively as well as how to look after your team of translators. I would highly recommend watching video of her whole presentation (Spanish), which can be seen here: (courtesy of Gabriel Cabrera). When it comes to diversification, this is a really inspiring video!

This got me thinking about translator friends, whose professional lives involve translation and other interesting projects too. So, I’ll stop talking (writing) now and hand you over to Martine Hansen of MIH Consulting. Martine is a NO>SP, SV and NO<>EN translator and interpreter, who combines these skills with language teaching and being a tourist guide. She is originally from Norway and has been living in Barcelona since 2010.


Martine Hansen MIH Consulting Email: LinkedIn:
Martine Hansen
MIH Consulting

Martine, when did you feel you would like to do something as well as translating and why?

I always felt like I wanted to do other things as well as translating. Being a translator means that you have to dominate the languages you work with at a very high level, at native level, so you need to use those languages as much as possible. The more I used my languages in other areas, the more I can apply my knowledge and understanding to my translation work . When I was studying Translation and Interpreting, I knew that I wanted to do other things as well as translation, so I would be in constant “evolution”, let’s say, towards my goal of being a professional translator and I could apply what I learnt to my future work. This was my real motivation.


What else you do in addition to translating?

I’m the main Norwegian teacher at a Scandinavian school called Institut Nòrdic in Barcelona. I teach Norwegian language, history and culture to adults of all ages who want to go to Norway to work or who want to learn the language for other reasons. Right now I have 8 different classes at all levels, and also give some private lessons.

On top of teaching, I also work as a guide from time to time. I work with a couple of travel agencies, and I guide groups of Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and English speakers in Barcelona. It can vary from walking tours, bus or bike tours, or tapas tours, or just picking them up from the airport and accompanying them to their hotel or a restaurant. I love helping them to communicate with the local people and interpreting for them when we come Spanish or Catalan speakers.

Being a tour guide also gives me the chance to use my knowledge to help others, and last but not least, the chance to get out of the house! Translating is a very lonely job, sometimes you need variety and to be among other human beings!


Did you come across any obstacles at the beginning of your professional trajectory?  How did you overcome them?

Yes, I did. I think the main obstacle was, without doubt, understanding how to get established and how to work as an self-employed freelancer. There are a lot of rules and laws you need to comply with regarding finance, billing, taxes, VAT and accounting and it is sometimes difficult to access this information. And another obstacle finding clients. In the beginning I had to do a lot of marketing to get my name out know there. However, with the right accountant and the advice from other professionals in the same situation, I managed to overcome these barriers. Most importantly I dedicated a lot of time and hard work to this, which is an absolutely essential if you work as a freelancer! I’d advise newbies to look into all of these aspects before setting up!

What does a typical day in your life consist of? Is every day different?

Yes, every day is different – I love the variety. One day I may wake up early in the morning to work on translations, then later on, I give a couple of private lessons and then in the evening give classes at the school until 10.00 pm. But other days, if I don’t have classes, I might be able to get up later, and as well as translating, I go and pick up a group for a guided tour. The only thing regular events in schedule each week are normally the hours I teach at the school, as the students have classes on the same day every week. Some weeks I also have to work during the weekends.


Do you work in a team or with outsourcers? Do you find this advantageous? 

I am part of a team at the language school, as we are all teachers and often discuss methodology and the best possible way to teach an aspect of language. Nevertheless, I don’t generally work in a team, at least not related to the translations. But on the other hand, I often discuss problems and doubts with other trustworthy translators, and they do the same with me. This way we help each other, and this is such a valuable relationship. There are always professionals with more experience than you, so they can help you learn more or point you in the right direction. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my work, so I’ll often ask another professional to correct or review  job before I deliver it to my client.


Do you feel like you have developed professionally since you started and what are your goals for the future?

Yes, absolutely. I have developed and learned a lot since I started 2 years ago, and I still learn new things from every project I work on. In this profession, the more you practice and work, the better you get with time.


Would you do anything differently if you were to start again?

No, I don’t think so. I am really happy with what I do now, I am able to work with what I love. And it turned out this way because of the hard work I put in to get here. It certainly is not an easy thing to do, but it is very rewarding!


Martine, thank you very much for your time and this valuable information. If you have any comments on this topic or any questions for Martine, please feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear about your freelancing lifestyle.


Now…how do I sign up for those tapas tours?



Post 6: Life as a public service interpreter (2/2)


Following on  from last week’s interview with Kasia Pranke, this week we have the pleasure of welcoming Marianela Trigo. Marianela is a translator, interpreter and language tutor, based near Belfast. Marianela has a wealth of experience as a public service interpreter and shares a true passion for her career in interpreting. Take a look…

Name: Marianela Trigo

Place of origin: Argentina


Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in a very artistic and cultural environment in a tiny seaside town called Villa Gesell, near Buenos Aires in Argentina. After completing my studies in Biology at University I left and moved to Spain, when I was 22 years old, motivated by an eagerness to travel. After a few years moving around, completing training and meeting extraordinary people I decided to fly to Ireland were I have been for the last 10 years.

How did your journey as a public service interpreter start?

Given my inner desire to explore our diverse world of societies, traditions, culture and language, I started to work for the Latinoamerica Unida Association in Belfast as a volunteer and then later on as an Information and Community Development Worker.

Through this I gained the experience, knowledge and awareness of the voluntary and community sector and built strong foundations as a bilingual worker. I also became very aware of the difficulties and challenges faced by people who did not speak English.

Increasingly I found that I was being asked by Spanish speaking friends and colleagues to go with them to meetings, or speak to their landlord, phone their internet service provider or translate a letter that they had received and I could see the benefit in their lives from my assistance. From there, it was a natural progression into becoming a full-time interpreter.

What area do you mainly work in? 

Currently the majority of my work is split fairly evenly between the health and the justice sectors although I also carry out interpreting work across the rest of the public sector, including education and social services, as well as private sector work. There are a vast range of jobs that need covered, from medical operations and doctor’s appointments to police interviews, court cases, school meetings and benefit assessments among others.

What attracted you to becoming a public service interpreter and how did you get in to working in the field?

I have always had a strong commitment to social justice and seeing the struggles of the minority communities and being able to help them in any way has always been very rewarding to me on a personal level.

I became aware that the invaluable role played by public service interpreters in peoples’ lives and the significance of face-to-face interactions between service providers and individuals (e.g. patients, witnesses, suspects, etc.) cannot be overestimated. Therefore, the role of an interpreter for non-English speaking individuals is crucial. The everyday needs of people who may be vulnerable and cannot communicate in the language of the country that they are in should not be underestimated. Being able to help people to accurately communicate the status of their health or their legal rights in emergency or life changing situations is a very rewarding challenge.

I am a strong believer in self-development and improvement and since arriving in Ireland I have sought out every opportunity to improve my English. I have taken numerous courses over the years, at different colleges and universities, including OCN Community Interpreting, Interpreting within the Criminal Justice System, Immigration movement and law, Diploma in Public Service Interpreting, etc.

While I really enjoyed the work that I did, I eventually ventured into starting my own business as a freelance Spanish/English Interpreter and Translator. I have not regretted any stage of my journey from Villa Gesell to public sector interpreting despite the high level of motivation, dedication, organisation and hard work required to get there.

Did you find any element particular difficult at first? And anything particularly easy? If so, please elaborate.

Interpreting using the first person was disconcerting at the start until I got used to the confused looks from some doctors, for example. Some seemed to get confused as to whether I was speaking for myself or interpreting for the client and at times I felt that they doubted my abilities. I am now a lot more confident and am happy to explain to them that this is actually the correct procedure as I am really acting as the mouth of the client.

Interpreting in court was also very demanding at first. There you are working in a tense and stressful environment with large distances between one speaker and the other making it hard to hear and difficult to follow what is being said at times. There are rarely any pauses and you usually have to carry out simultaneous interpreting. This is a situation where all your skills are being used to the highest standard as an incorrect interpretation could affect the outcome of the case.

Meeting and introducing myself to new people is something that I have always been comfortable with ,so arriving in new situations on a daily basis was not difficult for me at all. Being professional in the various settings and keeping the confidentiality of the clients was also something that I found particularly easy. In terms of the different jobs I would say that, in general, I found the Housing and Social Security assignments straightforward and uncomplicated.

What aspects do you enjoy most about the job?

Interpreting for the Public Sector means that you never know where your next assignment will take you and you get to meet people from all kinds of backgrounds.

I enjoy it immensely because I feel I am providing a very worthwhile service to the community, especially for those who are most vulnerable and disadvantaged. I feel inspired by the linguistic challenges that I am presented with and the constant learning afforded by the different work situations.

Each job provides me with a wealth of knowledge and experience and the satisfaction of knowing that I have such an important role in establishing communication between the Spanish and English speaking worlds.

Do you feel training is important? Why? How do you keep up with CPD?

We live in a constantly changing and developing world and I believe that training is crucial for interpreters.

I have concerns that the privatisation of interpreting services by commercial intermediaries could lead to a rush to use under-trained interpreters which could devalue the profession as a whole. More importantly, though, it could also lead to the incorrect or incomplete transfer of information from client to service provider which could have life changing or life threatening implications for the non-English speaking person. At times I have found that the most basic knowledge of proper interpreting techniques can be lacking. Higher standards for new interpreters and continual professional development are therefore essential to protect and serve the most vulnerable of clients and also the reputation of the service we deliver.

Hence I continue to develop my professional knowledge and skills in order to offer the highest possible standard of service by maintaining and updating my language/technical skills and subject knowledge.

By keeping in contact with the Chartered Institute of Linguists, the Institute of Translation & Interpreting (ITI), the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) etc., as well as various other translation and interpreting groups, I am always aware of upcoming training and development opportunities and I attend as many as I possibly can. Also as I am registered with various interpreting agencies they also provide development opportunities throughout the year.

Are you always prepared for your jobs or do you sometimes get surprised on the job? How do you prepare?  If you can give an example that would be super.

I am, more often than not, well prepared but it is not always possible. Before I accept a job I try and get as much information as possible as to the specific topic that I will be expected to interpret. I would then, for example if it is a medical appointment, carry out online research into the speciality or disease to gain an understanding of the specific technical terms and issues that I may come across. For short notice jobs this is not possible and I have to rely on the experience I have gained so far.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a public service interpreter? 

Do not stop with just a qualification in community interpreting offered by one of the organisations offering interpreting services in the local community, as this will only cover the really basic aspects of what you need.

Do continue to study, and I would highly recommend further studies such as a DPSI course or a Master’s in Interpreting, to improve your knowledge of proper interpreting techniques and allow you to gain practical experience in a controlled environment.

Do develop your knowledge of the cultural and religious background of the countries where the language is spoken.

Do always keep an eye open for courses, workshops and seminars for professional development.

Do not be afraid to turn down jobs for which you may not be suitable. You need to bear in mind that speaking fluently in at least one other language is not enough. Instances may arise where knowledge of special terminology may be required, or you may need to know informal speech, slang or regional dialects. You may be highly qualified and capable but unsuitable in a specific instance and accepting the job could do more harm than good for the client.

Do remember that you always need to interpret accurately as the client is relying on you completely.

Any other information you wish to share with us?

Interpreting usually involves a great deal of travelling, working without fixed hours and being ready to change plans at very short notice. After a few years working in this profession I have learnt to keep my badges, folder, timesheets and related information with me at all times.


Thank you, Marianela, for this in-depth insight into your journey and for sharing your passion for social justice with us. It is nice to be reminded of the crucial role that translators and interpreters perform in protecting the most vulnerable people in our society.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to add them below. It would be great to hear from you!

Post 5: Life as a public service interpreter (1/2)

kasiaWelcome back! This week sees a different approach to the Bella Lingo blog posts. Instead of an article focussing on a translation topic, may I present to you a 2 part interview on life as a public service interpreter. The aim is to highlight the different facets of the job and give an insight into the profession.

This week we have the pleasure of welcoming a lady who I have the pleasure of calling not only a colleague, but also a good friend, Kasia Pranke, who will give us a sneak peek into her life as a public service interpreter in the health service here in Northern Ireland. Take it away, Kasia…

Name: Katarzyna (Kasia) Pranke DPSI DipTrans MCIL

Place of origin: Poland



Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Kasia Pranke and I am a Polish-English translator and interpreter originally from Wielkopolska, but currently living in Northern Ireland.

How did your journey as a public service interpreter start?

When I moved abroad, my primary aim was to work as a translator and gain qualifications in this field. It took two people (a friend, who is a pharmacist and a fellow translator) and about two years before I got my foot into interpreting. I started with getting qualifications (Level 3 in Community Interpreting, Level 6 Diploma in Public Service Interpreting). Around the time when I gained the DPSI I was informed that my application to become a health and social care interpreter was successful. I was thrilled!

What area do you mainly work in? 

I mainly interpret in the health and social care settings: hospitals, GP surgeries, health centres where I help health care professionals to communicate with their patients.

What attracted you to becoming a public service interpreter and how did you get in to working in the field?

First of all, I was not completely sure if interpreting would be my cup of tea, but I found the prospect of the DPSI course very attractive. At that point I thought it was a good idea to enrol for the course as it would help me to build on my knowledge of medical terminology. On the course there were interpreters with a few years of experience and me having barely any – it definitely motivated me to do my best and invest time in preparation for the exam. I spent long hours in the library reading, watching medical videos and preparing glossaries. Even in my free time, when I had to choose a TV series to watch, it would be something related to the medical setting like: Getting On or Frankie.

Did you find any element particular difficult at first? And anything particularly easy? If so, please elaborate.

Oh yes! As a translator at heart, initially I could not imagine myself not having a ‘safety net’ and not being able to refer to a dictionary or other resources. This initial fear gave me the extra push to research and prepare glossaries. What is more, I had very little experience as a driver and thanks to interpreting jobs, I learned to drive on the left side like a pro;)

What aspects do you enjoy most about the job?

It’s really great to meet a variety of people every day – it’s never boring. I enjoy constant learning and love working with professionals who have so much commitment to what they do. At some point I started to wonder why I would never thought of pursuing a medical career, but I guess I am still more of a linguist at heart. Being a health and social care interpreter also helps me a lot in my translation work. As I am in the medical environment every day, when I receive a translation project, I can easily understand the context and imagine who the sender/receiver of the message is.

Do you feel training is important? Why? How do you keep up with CPD?

I believe it is a profession in which you need to develop knowledge in a systematic way, for example, by creating glossaries. Moreover, I’m always keen to attend CPD for medical interpreters and look for some medical events in the area.

Are you always prepared for your jobs or do you sometimes get surprised on the job? How do you prepare? 

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” – this saying applies perfectly to our profession. I always make sure I research the subject before the session.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a public service interpreter?


-Contact public services to check if there is a need for your language pair.

-Take any opportunity to expand your knowledge in the chosen field. Try to make use of all resources around you. Evidently you should check the internet, but don’t forget about a local library.

-Try to contact a more experienced colleague or a specialist, such as a pharmacist or a medical doctor.

-Build up glossaries – it may be time-consuming at first, but will pay off after a while.

-Gather resources in both languages.

-Always follow the code of conduct and adhere to your role at all times.

-And how about volunteering for a local migrant organisation? They may take advantage of your language skills and you will have a chance to gain some real life experience.


Do not assume interpreting is only about knowing two languages; it is also about improving other skills, for example, time management, resilience, etc.


Thank you for your time and sharing your experience with us, Kasia! Are you a public service interpreter? How did you get started in this profession? As usual, I would love to hear your views, so please add a comment below.

Don’t forget to join us next week for the second part of the interview with Marianela Trigo, a Spanish<>English interpreter, who’ll give us a glimpse into her life working in community and public service interpreting.

What is Continuous Professional Development for Translators?

learningWith my translation certificate in hand, I waltzed out of university. My peers and I felt like the best translators in town. No-one could stop us. We were top of the pops, número uno. We were confident that by the end of 2012 we would have translated 6 best-sellers and be on our way to making a small fortune. Little did we know, we had barely dipped our toes in the real world of translation. We had accrued a wealth of information, but knew nothing, rien, nada about the ins and outs of our industry. We had no idea that the profession of translation, like many others, involves life-long learning and investment in honing and regularly updating our skill-set.

“CP…what?” I hear you cry!

CPD or Continuous Professional Development is a concept I had not heard of until a good 6 months into my career as a translator. Shame on me. So what is it? According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development,  continuous professional development is:   “ [a] combination of approaches, ideas and techniques that will help you manage your own learning and growth. The focus of CPD is firmly on results – the benefits that professional development can bring you in the real world.” So transferring that into real terms then CPD means courses, classes, studies and exams related our professional career that help us to develop our expertise during our life-time. CPD is the trademark of a professional in any sector.

Keep calm…

Now if you are a translator reading this article and starting to feel alarmed, let me assure that for our industry CPD is not necessary, but rather a recommendation in order to keep up with a fast-moving industry. Doctors, pharmacists, accountants, dieticians and other professionals are required by their respective governing bodies to do a certain amount of CPD hours per year.  As a guide, the Institute of Translation and Interpreting recommends that its members complete a minimum of five CPD days per year or the equivalent of 30 hours in total. A few years ago here, in Northern Ireland, there were not many bodies providing training for translators and interpreters. Fortunately, at the moment there are agencies providing OCN community interpreting courses, DPSI and DipTrans training. Often those exams can be sat here, and sometimes the odd participant has to travel to London. However, thanks to the Internet, CPD is now much more accessible with courses readily available online from inexpensive to top range prices depending on the offering.

Plenty of choice

And the good news is that whilst you may want to take a CAT tool course or subtitling class, your CPD does not have to be directly related to translation or interpreting skills. It can be anything from improving and polishing your languages, for instance, a language course to brush up on your L2. It could be a subject-specific course. Let’s take for example, one translator colleague who is taking a class at university on blood borne virues as she is a medical translator. Furthermore, it could be a course to improve your business skills, for example, The Freelance Box or The Business School for Translators.  It could even be an IT-related course, like an Adobe Photoshop class. These are just some suggestions.

Commitment to our clients

Furthermore,  committing to CPD and making a record of it shows our clients that we are dedicated to offering them the best service possible as we want to learn, evolve and grow with the industry. This year my CPD consists of working towards the IoLET Level 7 Diploma in Translation, and I hope to take a Trados course in the summer to get up to speed with the 2014 version of the programme.

What about you? Do you think CPD is important? What training are you going to do this year? Please let me know in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you!

Post 3: Why a translator who asks questions is a good thing…


It has been said numerous times that the best reader is a translator. In fact, often it is hard for us to read a text for pleasure without thinking about how we would translate it. In our daily work we are used to using our critical eye to read then examine texts and carefully research them before we get on with the main task: translating.

So why is it useful to work with a translator with an inquisitive mind?

Since we are in the business of effective communication, a good translator will up front ask the client questions like what will the text be used for, who is the intended audience, where it will be used if these have not been made clear.  Often it can be difficult to know whether to ask or not, but in my opinion, if you have done plenty of research, and would like clear reassurance, then by all means ask your client, as this will help both parties to achieve your end goals.

A curious mind

A curious translator who carefully reads and dissects a target text is worth working with. They will identify the parts in a text that seem unclear, spot sentences that have a double meaning, notice typos or that missing comma and any other improvements that can be made to the text, then go back to the client, which is normally really appreciated (provided it is done politely, with good reason, in good spirits and the translator is not nitpicking for nitpicking’s sake). Why is this helpful? Because effectively it helps the client to improve the original text, to refine it and make it more precise, targeted and suitable for its audience.

Partnering and collaborating with your client

Just this morning I received an email from a client saying:

“This text is just to give you an idea of what we’ll be translating. Our Italian translator has pointed out places where our text can be improved for marketing purposes, so we will make those changes first before we proceed.”

When I read this I immediately thought: wow, there is an example of a translator who understands the true definition of partnering and collaboration with the client. When I started out as a translator, I was too guilty of “just translating the text” and not thinking about its greater use. Then after asking a few questions to a client as a text I received seemed poorly written and receiving his responses, I realised that doing so helped me to think about the text’s use in a wider framework. Clients appreciate that we want to work alongside them to achieve their goals and success. However, there is no doubt that there is the odd client out there who prefers we do not ask questions and just get on with the job. It is up to each individual to decide how to or whether we proceed to work with them.

Subject-matter related questions

In addition, a curious translator will also refer to subject-matter experts when other sources are unconvincing. My sister is a pharmacist, so I often refer to her if I have a question and she often provides me with the answer or secondary source material on those tough medical matters. She is fantastic.

Incompetent nit-wits?

Of course, a professional translator should always do their research and avoid asking needless or potentially annoying questions, as the last thing we would want to do is come across as an incompetent nit-wit, so a bit of common sense alongside all the research we put into our work never goes amiss.

In conclusion, in my experience asking questions has been positive for me. It has always made me feel more confident that I am working tight to the brief of my client. I feel we are working together and that they appreciate I have taken the time to go one step further than just translate.


What about you? Do you ask your clients questions? Does your approach differ where agencies and direct clients are involved? I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment below.

Hello all and welcome to the Bella Lingo blog!

Hello all and welcome to the Bella Lingo blog!

For a long time I have been considering blogging on translation and, alas, the devil in me has finally succumb to the temptation thanks to a little inspiration from some great colleagues – Gala Gil Amat, Jo Rourke  and Kasia Pranke to name but a few. Plus today is my birthday, so it seems like an appropriate day to begin posting!

For all of you who do not know me, I am Christina, a freelance translator and interpreter working with French, Spanish, Catalan into English. I was educated in NI, Scotland and Spain, have lived in Barcelona and South America and now I happily reside in my native Northern Ireland, where I’ve been running my little translation business, Bella Translations since 2013. My passions are speaking and writing different languages and helping others, so it seems like the translation world is a good fit with my personality. I also enjoy pilates and have an endless love affair with Barcelona city.

But enough about me, my first real blog post will be coming very soon, so until then you will have to wait on tenterhooks before I start to mass spam your Twitter feed with *New Blog Post Notifications*. I joke.  Anyway, please do join me for my next blog post, a plain and simple one on why I am a translator. Please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email to: 

How did I get here?


That question may sound rather philosophical!

However, apart from my close colleagues and friends, very few of you will know how I ended up as a freelance translator, so let me share a little bit with you in this short post.

As a child I was interested in basically everything, but I particularly loved reading all kinds of books, writing stories, exploring, examining maps and place names and pretending to be an adult! When I went to school, I did well at most subjects bar Maths, (when they started adding letters to the numbers, I knew I was doomed), so when I got to high school it was no surprise that I enjoyed languages most. With passionate and encouraging teachers for both French and Spanish, I was naturally led towards thinking about a future using these languages. After receiving my A-level exam results, in the Autumn of 2005 I packed my bags and went off to the University of St. Andrews in Scotland to study modern languages which allowed me to spend one abroad in Cádiz, Spain, where I got my first taste of translation by helping a teacher translate some material for a school project. As I had no grounding in the academic principals of translation, I was obviously… clueless. A translation of 200 words took me about 2 days (don’t worry; I’m a bit quicker now!), but I remember feeling drawn to the basic idea of de-constructing a text in one language only to reconstruct it in another.  I felt like a code breaker!

Knowing that I would finish my degree just 2 years after, I felt a bit of pressure to carve out my future path. Whilst many of my friends applied for graduate schemes with large corporations, I researched several ideas:  teaching (most people assumed I would become a teacher), journalism, conference interpreting and, of course, translation. After gaining some knowledge about all the areas, it would be lovely to tell you that I had systematically reached a measured decision about my career, but alas, I had not. What I was sure of, however, was that I wanted to move to Spain, in particular Barcelona ,despite pleas of “come home”, “we miss you” and “let’s go travelling” from family and friends.  After a few days in the city spent frantically sending my CV to all sorts of companies and English academies, thankfully I landed a steady job as an English teacher and linguist. My approach to job-seeking may have been a bit haphazard, and if I could do it again, I’d definitely try to have a job lined up in advance.

Being surrounded by 3 languages, English, Spanish and Catalan was thrilling for me and switching from one language to another and then learning a new one (Catalan) gave me such a buzz. It made me feel even more drawn to becoming a translator, especially as some friends and colleague were asking me to do some translations and some interpreting for them, and I was really enjoying it. After some careful planning, I decided to take a Masters in Translation, Interpreting and Intercultural Studies at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, which opened my mind up to a whole new world; my self-taught concepts went out the window. I learnt valuable lessons about becoming a translator and was supported by professors whose theoretical and practical knowledge was invaluable. I also met some terrific classmates who I am pleased to call friends and colleagues now, namely Martine Hansen, Marta Alvarez, Herminia Paez and Lucía Alvarez Pérez.    

After graduating I moved back to Northern Ireland and began to work in a company as a Business Development Executive; a position which allowed me to translate, interpret and use languages in a variety of ways in a business environment. It also gave me the opportunity to learn transferable business skills: the ins and outs of customer service, marketing, lead generation and sales pitching amongst other valuable lessons, which have been paramount in establishing Bella Translations. Whilst working in the company, I would arrive home and start doing some translations in the evening, gradually building up my client base in order to become a full-time freelance translator and I studied for the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (IoL) at the same time. Combining all of that is not a lifestyle for the faint-hearted.

In November 2014, I finally became a full-time self-employed translator and interpreter. The first few months have thrown up some difficulties, as does the start of any new job. I harbour no doubts that business will get tougher, work-life balance will get more complicated, and I will probably have the odd breakdown. However, for now, I can say that I have never been happier.

Who gets to work at something they love every day? Translators do!

I would love to know how you got started as a freelancer, so please feel free to share your story below in the comments section!