We oftentimes get questions about how to overcome the typical chicken/egg dilemma: clients want translators to have experience, but they won't hire newcomers to the world of translation without experience. Many times, newcomers make the (poor) choice to take lower rates to get started. The effect is that it destroys the market for the rest of us (think macroeconomics!), and that it's very challenging to raise your rates once you have gained more experience. Thus, starting low is not the way to go. However, how do you get experience?
As many of our readers now, we are strong supporters of our communities and of fighting global poverty through activism, volunteering and by donating to international organizations. One of our favorite causes is microlending to small businesses, many times women-owned, around the world. Several non-profits run these remarkable programs, and Kiva is perhaps the most visible one (although one we haven't donated to). In November, we ran into Naomi Baer, a translator and member of the ATA and NCTA (Northern California Translators Association) in Denver after the ATA conference. She mentioned a volunteer translator program at Kiva. We think that's a fantastic way to get started in the industry while making our planet a better place to live.
Kiva has millions of words that it needs translated on a continuous basis, especially in languages of lesser diffusion. As is to be expected, there's no budget for paying translators. However, this is a fantastic opportunity for both newcomers and for established translators who want to give back.
Although Kiva's volunteer translation team is currently full (go volunteers!), they are accepting applications for languages that they will need in the future, which include Arabic, Armenian, Bahasa Indonesia, Dari, French, Khmer, Mongolian, Nepali, Pashto, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai, Urdu, Vietnamese. Visit the Kiva Translation Program page for more information. All translations are from the foreign language into English. Kiva also needs volunteers for its Editing Program.