A Day in the Life of a Busy Translator/Interpreter: Part 2

As promised, here is an account of a day in Dagy's busy life. We blogged about Judy's day here. Read on for what she's been up to!

My home office in Vienna, Austria.
Early morning. I check if Judy is still online, and I’m happy to see that she is! We chat about projects, translation questions and personal stuff. Judy might still be online when I get back from breakfast if she’s working late (she’s 9 hours behind). I feed my bilingual cat Junia (born and raised in Las Vegas, now living in Vienna) and read the German-language newspaper (the actual physical paper!) for an hour. For my English-language news fix, I listen to NPR during the day, alternating with Spanish and French radio stations. I also read magazines and books in all my languages, which sometimes feels like having too many balls up in the air, since I have four working languages (and struggling to add a fifth).

I come across an interesting newspaper article about chess academies in Armenia and decide to use that information for an interpreting training speech that I will record and upload to www.speechpool.net, which is a great resource for student interpreters and anybody wishing to keep their interpreting tools sharp. I try to hit a level of difficulty similar to EU accreditation tests, which I have taken and passed myself.

Back at my desk, I read my Twitter stream, post a thing or two and authorize a few comments that readers have left on my German-language blog on orthography (www.neue-rechtschreibung.net).

I start working on a large translation project for UNIDO, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, headquartered here in Vienna. It’s a large and interesting project about biomass-based energy generation in the Dominican Republic. This translation job was not posted anywhere and I am happy to have an awesome translator friend who works for UNIDO on a regular basis and recommend me. This business is all about relationships, both with your peers and your clients.

The phone rings quite a few times. Some are potential clients (a few people still use the phone, which I like), but it’s mostly the office calling. You might think: which offfice? Well, it’s the office of UNIVERSITAS Austria, the Austrian interpreters’ and translators’ association. Since I am the Secretary General and our two-person administrative team is new, I trained them last week and am always happy to answer their questions. Our office is conveniently located at the school of interpreting and translating at the University of Vienna. I’ve been encouraged to apply for an open teaching position (interpreting Spanish->German), and I might give it a shot.
With the UNIVERSITAS president.

I’ve been trying to pitch a workshop to a private organization that offers training opportunities for unemployed people who are planning to start a business. I realized that the presentation I frequently give at the university (as a guest speaker) isn’t limited to our industry because the messages are universal: hard work, professional/entrepreneurial mind-set, passion. I finally get the person in charge on the phone and deliver my well-prepared elevator pitch. He seems interested enough and asks me to send him some information via e-mail, which I do immediately. I also include a link to my latest webinar.

I’m down to 13 e-mails, but new ones keep flying in and it’s hard to keep up. I answer a few e-mails from potential clients and issue a quote for an interpreting assignment on September 12. I add that I might not be able to take care of that job personally because I might be on vacation. Good thing there are always lovely fellow interpreters that could fill in for me if need be – provided that the client approves my quote.

My to-do list is still pretty long for the day, and I realize that some things just won’t happen today, including the guest post I promised a friend of mine who runs the Slovak interpreters’ and translators’ association. I still have time, so I’ll try to do that tomorrow. I grab a quick bite to eat, delighted to find yummy leftovers from the weekend, which means no cooking and more time for business.

Only two hours to go before my private Greek class, so I unfortunately won’t have time to work out today. I translate another two pages (rough draft only) and get ready for my class, which conveniently takes place at my dining room table. It’s 4 p.m. and the timing isn’t great for me because I’ve been focusing on biomass-related terminology, but is there ever a right time? As soon as my awesome and always cheerful teacher walks in, saying hi in Greek, I am totally focused on learning. Can’t wait to make progress! My cat Junia loves the Greek teacher, which is why she’s sitting at the dining room table waiting (see picture).
Junia waiting for the Greek teacher.

After two intense hours, I can barely think straight and try to relax for a few minutes before I get into business mode, put on my favorite jacket with the EU pin on it and get ready to head to a networking event. Again, the timing is not great, the biomass project is begging me to stay, but I’ve signed up for this event organized by the Chamber of Commerce, so I’m definitely going. It’s a presentation called “Selling is like running,” and since I love running and enjoy self-marketing, I can’t wait to hear more.

After that, it’s networking time! This being Austria, not everybody is as approachable as you would expect them to be at such an event, so I use my icebreaker strategy, which always works like a charm: I simply ask people if they know the difference between interpreting and translating. Nobody ever does, but everybody gets a company-branded chocolate for trying – and voilà, I’m talking to people about the industry and the company that made my chocolates. If these fellow entrepreneurs ever need a translation, they might remember the lady with the chocolates (who will connect with them on LinkedIn and Xing right after she gets home with her stack of business cards). I resist the wine at the networking event because I’m planning on putting in another hour of work afterwards.

I’m back at my desk by 10 p.m. and work some more, with a little tweeting thrown in (if you’d like to follow me, my Twitter handle is @deutsch_profi). Since I’m still feeling talkative, I take my early-morning notes and record a new speech for Speechpool. I hope people find it useful.

That’s it for today! Can’t wait to finish reading my book, “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. It’s a great combination of feminist manifesto and career advice. I’m already thinking about the review I’ll write about it for my German-language book review website (www.buchrezension.eu), which I’ve been neglecting a little lately. There goes another fun thing for my to-do list!


Alina on May 30, 2013 at 6:16 AM said...

Wow! Is that how every day of your life looks like? And you even have time for Greek classes (I am actually toying with the idea of learning Greek too)? That's impressive.
Thanks for the icebreaker tip :)
I am not a cat person, but yours made my day. Junia looks so serious, as if she really means business.
I always finish my day with a book too.
Thanks for sharing this post. I really enjoyed it.

Dolores on May 30, 2013 at 12:01 PM said...

FASCINATING DAGGY!!! You are a SUPER PROFESSIONAL, you & Judy! I admire you both a lot!
It is great to hear that, as Alina also said, apart from working long hours and accomplishing a lot, you still have a desire to learn a new language. Hurra for Daggy!
Keep on this road!

Dolores on May 30, 2013 at 12:02 PM said...

FASCINATING DAGGY!!! You are a SUPER PROFESSIONAL, you & Judy! I admire you both a lot!
It is great to hear that, as Alina also said, apart from working long hours and accomplishing a lot, you still have a desire to learn a new language. Hurra for Daggy!
Keep on this road!

Marion Rhodes on May 30, 2013 at 12:22 PM said...

I absolutely love the chocolate idea! Being not very good at small talk myself, I'm always looking for ways to start a conversation with strangers during networking events. Yours is fun and memorable - simply genius!

EP on June 1, 2013 at 12:27 PM said...

Wow. Busy is the nice word for that! I don't think I could handle that pace. Interesting stuff - and cool kitty. Weiter so!

Anthony on June 2, 2013 at 10:39 PM said...

It's amazing that you can handle so many things in one day.

Once I had to leave the "office" (my home) for a day without any Internet access. When I was back, the amount of e-mails waiting for me was... overwhelming, just checking them out took me half a day.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on June 3, 2013 at 12:05 PM said...

@Alina: Thanks for your lovely comment. We are busy indeed, but busy is good when you work for yourself! Yes, Junia is ready to learn, although, well, she really just wants to get petted by the Greek teacher. Speaking of Greek: it's a huge challenge, but not impossible. Thanks for commenting and for reading!

@Dolores: Awwww... you are so wonderful. We love what we do and it has a lot to do with friends like you. :)

@Marion: Happy to hear that you like the chocolate idea! It was a small investment that's certainly paying off. Feel free to "copy" it! Sometimes small talk is very tough. One twin likes it, the other one does not.

@EP: Some days are definitely busier than others. :) The kitty is lovely, spoiled and supposedly bilingual, but we have yet to confirm that.

@Antony: Thanks for commenting. Ah, a day without online access is tough these days....

Sarai Pahla on June 3, 2013 at 1:51 PM said...

Really enjoyed this insight into your daily lives - I often wonder how you both manage to find time for blogging in between all of this working, networking and communicating - not to mention the fact that interpreting jobs can keep you away from home a few hours a day. Thanks for sharing - I know how much time it takes to get everything written down when you post about your day, but it was really informative (and encouraging!)

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on June 3, 2013 at 2:10 PM said...

@Sarai: Thanks for your lovely comment. Wow, you seem to have a very impressive background indeed(checked out your Blogger profile). Astronaut, huh? You go girl! We think we get a lot done because we are good at multitasking, don't have kids, type very fast, and charge high rates so we don't have to work all the time and do fun things like blogging, too! Looking forward to seeing you again here on our blog. Great language combo (Japanese to English). :)

Tonia on July 29, 2013 at 10:58 PM said...

This is cool!

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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

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