Guest Post/Open Thread: Who's the Boss?

We haven't had a guest post in a while, so we are delighted to welcome the first guest blogger of 2012 - and it happens to be the president-elect of the American Translators Association, Caitilin Walsh. We are honored that she's agreed to write an article for us. Read on about the important topic of providing your own benefits as a freelance translator/interpreter. We would love to hear your thoughts about affordable health care options in your state. Please share your insight with your colleagues by leaving a comment. 

I have the distinct pleasure of teaching students in a translation certificate program, and one of my favorite and liveliest discussions comes when we talk about deciding to work for yourself. Since most folks are used to working for companies, everyone knows how it works: you send out résumés, go for an interview, and, if everything goes well, you receive an offer. You look at what they offer, and decide if you will accept the job. Most of us assume that a full-time position will provide us with enough to live on (assuming a modest lifestyle—no Lamborghinis here), and most of us expect things like paid vacations and some sort of benefits package.

But it's amazing how many of us fail to translate this to the self-employment model that dominates our industry. We're pretty good at seeing ourselves as employees, but not so much as employers. Here's the bottom line: we simply cannot expect to be seen as professionals if we do not charge rates that allows us to provide ourselves with benefits that any right-minded professional would expect.

If you were an architect or a CPA looking to work in-house, you would expect paid vacation; paid sick leave; paid holidays; and some employer contribution to health insurance—that's medical, vision and dental. A full package would also likely include long-term disability and life insurance, along with a 401(k). That's in addition to things like paying a share of your Social Security taxes and withholding income tax and unemployment contributions. Employers don't offer these benefits out of the kindness of their hearts: some are required (like taxes) but mostly it's because they know that they need their employees, and that means they need to protect their business by taking good care of them. This applies as well when employee and employer are one and the same.

It's encouraging to see discussions on translation and interpreting business practices lists and blogs take on things like saving for retirement and the importance of actually taking a vacation. But what about insurance? What happens when your main employee—you—can't work because of illness? How about those eyeglasses you need to see the screen or the physical therapy for your aching wrists? Not to mention house fires, hurricanes, heart attacks and the like.

It helps to remember that being a business is not just about providing excellent service, but also being an excellent employer.  In all our discussions about "sexy" benefits like vacation and retirement, let's not forget to investigate the basic health insurance offered by most states, or buying a group policy as part of a larger organization with huge buying power (think warehouse clubs, national associations for the self-employed), or even setting up an Health Spending Account. Whatever choice we make, it all boils down to attracting and taking care of our most important professional asset—ourselves.

Caitilin Walsh is an ATA-Certified French-English translator who delights in producing publication-quality translations for the computer industry and food lovers alike. In addition to her longtime service to her local chapter, NOTIS (Northwest Translators & Interpreters Society), she serves as President-elect of the American Translators Association. She brings her strong opinions to teaching Ethics and Business Practices at the Translation and Interpreting Institute at Bellevue College, and chairing the T&I Advisory Committee for the Puget Sound Skills Center. When not at her computer, she can be found pursuing creative endeavors from orchestra to the kitchen. 

Fluent in 11 Languages

All translators and interpreters are proud of their hard-earned foreign language skills, usually in one or two languages, but we've never heard of anyone who's fluent in 11 languages. Plus, this kid is only 20 years old. Granted, he doesn't translate or interpret from these languages, but we bet Alex Rawlings would be a fine addition to the community.

Alex's story is truly remarkable, and there's no question that he's extraordinarily talented. We listened to Alex's video in the four languages that we speak between the two of us, and  we were quite impressed. We can't judge the quality of the other languages, but we have a hunch they are just as good. We wish the BBC article delved into Alex's life a bit further, as we'd love to know more about him and learn more details about how exactly he has acquired so many languages in his young life.

You can watch the video on the BBC's website.

Keep it Simple

Every profession comes with its own sets of rules, standards and industry-specific jargon, and translation and interpreting are no exception. We go to great lengths to avoid using high-level terminology that might or might not mean anything to the potential client. We feel that it's our job to explain the process to clients in as simple a language as we can.

Put yourself in the customer's shoes: when you get a speeding ticket, you don't want the attorney you hire to take care of it to bombard you with acronyms and stuff you don't understand. All you want to know is what you need to do to get the ticket off your record. We feel the same way about our roles in clients' lives: we want to solve their problems as opposed to making things more complicated by showing off (intentionally or not) jargon that's meaningless to clients. This seems like a no-brainer, but it's amazing how many service providers cannot get themselves to explain processes in a simple, straight-forward way (several of our CPAs come to mind here). When dealing with your own clients, our advice is to make things as easy on them as possible -- after all, they are not translators or interpreters, and they don't need to be: that's why they have you.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this!

Webinar: Pricing Strategies for Translators and Interpreters

In 2010, the American Translators Association started offering webinars, and they've proven to be hugely successful. Judy is honored to present yet another webinar for the ATA. It's all about pricing strategies for both translators and interpreters around the world. For more details, please visit the ATA's webinar page. The one-hour webinar will be held on February 29, 2012 at 12 noon Eastern. The cost is $35 for ATA members and $50 for non-members.

Here is the presentation abstract:

Pricing is a controversial and complex subject, and it’s one that all linguists need to think about very seriously. In order to make a good living in the profession that we love, it’s essential to figure out how to price our services. It's not about the price someone tells you to charge, but rather what do you want to make and how do you get there.

The webinar will cover:

  • How much do you want to make?
  • Moral/ethical obligations?
  • Brief overview of supply, demand and price
  • The peanuts/monkeys phenomenon
  • Alternatives to very low prices for newcomers to the profession
  • The business case for no free translation tests
  • Surcharges (weekend, 24-hour turnaround, PDF, etc.)
  • Dealing with adversity
  • Adjustments for inflation
In compliance with U.S. anti-trust law, no specific price recommendations will be made during the webinar. 

Language Access Position: Barton Memorial Hospital (South Lake Tahoe, CA)

We just received this job posting from a friend of ours -- it's a 3/5 position and you'd have a very nice boss (trust us). The job is at Barton Memorial Hospital in gorgeous South Lake Tahoe, CA. To apply, please start here and click on "employment search" and then select the "professional" option. The job title is Language Access Services Assistant.

Read on for more information:

Schedule:Part Time
Hours:Variable days and schedule, 8-hour shifts

  • Assists coordination with Language Access Services (LAS), including in-house Medical Interpreters, Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) interpreters, telephonic interpreting, remote video interpreting, and written translation system-wide.Assists organization with continuing education of LAS staff; coaches, mentors and develops the skills of LAS staff. 
  • Provides training to providers and staff, including new employees, on the procedure for requesting interpreters and written translation, as well as on methods for working effectively with an interpreter.
  • Follows National Council on Interpreting in HealthCare (NCIHC) Code of Ethics and California Healthcare Interpreting Association (CHIA) standards; ensures services are consistent with the standards of BMH and JCAHO and other regulatory bodies.
  • Assists and monitors the interpreter productivity and tracking system.
  • Serves as back up for interpreters/translators when necessary.
  • Works collaboratively with other Barton University administrative staff and other stakeholders to coordinate the content and scheduling of LAS courses, services and programs; utilizes support services and operates within budget parameters.
  • Reports to the Director of Education/LAS Coordinator. 

  • High School Degree or equivalent. Bachelor’s degree in nursing, business, education, social work, sociology or related field preferred
  • Computer literate: Excel, Outlook, Word, PowerPoint.
  • Bilingual, bicultural, 40 hour medical interpreting course certificate preferred. National Certification for Medical Interpreter highly recommended or ability to obtain within one year.
  • Sufficient computer skills as are required to complete an online application and the pre-employment/annual Net Learning requirements
  • In compliance with patient safety standards, must be able to effectively communicate in English; Bilingual abilities preferre
  • Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential functions of the position without compromising services.
  • Prolonged, extensive or considerable standing/walking/sitting
  • Considerable reaching, stooping, bending, kneeling, crouching
  • Must be able to lift a minimum of 25 lbs.
  • Routine Office/Administrative conditions
  • Contact with patients and guests under a wide variety of circumstances
  • Potential for exposure to the risk of infections and bloodborne and contagious diseases
  • Subject to varying and unpredictable situations, including the handling of emergency or crisis situations
  • Subject to pressure due to irregular hours, frequent interruptions and stressful situations due to multiple demands 
  • (1) High School Diploma or equivalent
  • Minimum 2+ Years Relevant Experience Required

$100 in Google Adwords

We honestly don't know why Google keeps on sending us so many free certificates for $100 in Google AdWords for new users, but we will take them. As usual, we will raffle off the certificate to a colleague (freelancers only, please) who answers one question correctly. We will e-mail the access code to the winning person so he or she can get started with Google AdWords. The certificate expires March 31, 2012.

Here's the question: where was this picture taken? Hint: it was taken in the continental U.S. Give us the state/city/area, and you will win the prize!

Jobs: Review and Translation Coordinator at Kiva

Please read on for a translation job opening in San Francisco, which we received from our friends at Kiva

Kiva is currently recruiting for a Review and Translation Coordinator to support our volunteer translation program. We are looking for a Native or near-native English speaker with fluency in French, Russian or Spanish. Knowledge of more than one Kiva language (French, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish) is a plus. The ideal candidate would have 2+ years of professional translation experience and/or a certificate or degree in translation. The full job description is below.

Please pass this along to anyone you think might be qualified/interested. Applicants should email their cover letter and resume to with “Review and Translation Coordinator” in the subject line by Feb. 27, 2012.


Review and Translation Coordinator

Position: Review and Translation Coordinator
San Francisco, CA – SOMA
Job Type: Full time with salary plus benefits.

The Company
Called the "hottest non-profit on the planet" by FORTUNE magazine and a Top 50 Website by TIME, Kiva ( is the world's first person-to-person lending marketplace for the poor. In just 5 years, Kiva has raised $250 million from 600k lenders to 600k borrowers in 60 countries. Kiva combines the culture and approach of an internet start-up with an intense focus on alleviating global poverty. Kiva is poised to take its initial success to a whole new level - targeting $1 billion in loans by 2015 and expansion into new areas (e.g. student loans, climate change, etc.). Headquartered in San Francisco, Kiva's team has 100 smart, passionate, and fun employees and 500+ volunteers. 

The Job Description
The Review and Translation Coordinator helps manage the preparation of loan content for the Kiva website, working with a large team of skilled volunteers to deliver translated and verified loan profiles for funding by Kiva lenders. The Review and Translation Coordinator is responsible for directly managing the volunteer Team Leaders of several teams of translators; coordinating the screening, testing, and onboarding of new volunteers; supporting established procedures for volunteer recognition and community development; and handling various other tasks to support overall program effectiveness.

  • Loan review and Team Leader management
    • Monitor unreviewed loan volume and motivate teams to translate/review required volume
    • Manage review for new and special case Kiva Field Partners
    • Manage up to 10 Loan Review Team Leaders (corresponds to team of  250+ volunteers)
    • Support Team Leader responses to volunteer queries on loan policy, Kiva processes, translation techniques, terminology, and volunteer involvement
    • Lead initial Team Leader trainings, along with other Review & Translation Program staff
    • Manage format for quarterly conference calls and lead quarterly one-on-one calls with Team Leaders
    • Provide technical support for Kiva systems to Team Leaders
    • Participate in planning for volunteer and Team Leader coverage for the holiday season

  • Translator  recruitment, testing, and onboarding
    • Develop recruitment network that can be leveraged to increase flow of volunteers for specific language needs
    • Screen translator applications and manage recruitment and screening messages in Kiva systems
    • Manage language test evaluation process personally or with external test evaluators
    • Manage onboarding process for translation volunteers, including accepted, rejected, and wait listed applicants

  • Volunteer support,  linguistic standards, and community engagement
    • Develop volunteer resources and provide technical support for Kiva’s review and translation systems
o   Monitor industry practices in linguistic technology, crowdsourcing, and translation and advise on program scaling
    • Plan and coordinate volunteer recognition events, work parties, and trainings

Required Skills and Qualifications
  • Native or near-native English speaker with fluency in French, Russian, or Spanish
  • 2+ years professional translation experience and/or a certificate or degree in translation
  • Experience in project management, preferably in the translation or localization industry
  • Excellent people skills with friendly and motivational communication style
  • Adept with new technologies
  • Creative problem-solver who is interested in innovation and enjoys a high-growth environment
  • Knowledge of more than one Kiva language (Spanish, French, Russian, Portuguese)
  • Established network within translation / localization industry
  • Experience managing volunteers or remote teams
Compensation & Benefits
·         Generous benefits, including health insurance and 401(k) plan with company match
·         Flexible work environment, but must live in Bay Area and work out of San Francisco office
  • Knowing that you're helping to change the world for the better
If interested
  • Email cover letter and resume to with “Review and Translation Coordinator” in the subject line by Feb. 27, 2012.
  • Please do not contact Kiva directly with any questions or follow-up inquiries. We regret that we can only respond to candidates whom we would like to interview.

Receiving Gifts: Input Needed

A few weeks ago, Judy did an escort interpreting assignment for one of her favorite clients, and we'd love to get our readers' and colleagues' opinion on a small, but important issue. Here's her story.

Our charming clients, the owners of a company that imports building materials from China to Argentina, were in town to attend a large trade show in Vegas. They met with many of their suppliers, all of them Chinese, who were delighted to see them (our client, let's call him Mr. Building, is a very good customer of these Chinese companies). Mr. Building and his very nice wife do not speak much English, which is where I come in as a Spanish<->English escort interpreter. We mainly go to vendors' booths to talk about price, and the conversations can get quite heated. As you might imagine, the Chinese vendors are not fluent in English, so many times, I wish we had a Chinese->English interpreter, but I digress.

Mr.Building and I have developed a solid working relationship throughout the years, and this is the third trade show in a row at which we have worked together. Many of the vendors are the same every year as well. Mr. Building highly values one of his main suppliers, and it's usually one of the first booths we visit. Once I met up with Mr. and Mrs. Building, they made sure to tell me that they'd already visited their favorite vendor, but had agreed to come back with their interpreter (me) so they could start talking business. Ms. Building also told me that the vendor wanted to give me a gift. Insisting that it was not necessary to give the interpreter a gift was met with much resistance -- my clients insisted that their client insisted on giving me a gift.

Now, I am not very familiar with Chinese culture, and I wasn't sure about gift-receiving etiquette in the Chinese culture. Should I open the gift right there and then or take it home and then comment on it the next day? I wasn't sure, and the gift was presented to me as we were leaving the booth, which was full of people. It was evident from both the bag and the box what it was -- a gorgeous, long pearl necklace -- and all I managed to do was an awkward little bow. The vendor also had to rush to the next meeting, so luckily I didn't have to fret about whether or not I should open the gift. However, should I have stayed and opened it in her presence? What would you have done? 

I did end up going back with my clients the next day -- just to say hello to the vendor, as I was hoping we would. My solution: I wore the beautiful necklace, which the vendor noticed immediately. I told her how much I liked it and made sure to thank her again. I could tell she was very happy I was wearing it.

Dear readers: how would you have handled this situation? Is there any particular way the Chinese expect foreigners to behave when receiving gifts? We'd love to learn from anyone who wants to share their input by leaving a comment. 

Temporary Translation Position (German and Dutch) in Seattle: Expedia

Through one of the ATA listservs, we heard about this six-week job with Expedia in Seattle. Read on for more information.

German or Dutch Language Translators Needed

Support the Paid Search Online Marketing Channel at Expedia! We are looking for localization specialists for German and Dutch that could translate thousands of destination names, landmarks, airports, and train stations. The project impacts multi-million dollars to the bottom line and we want you to be part of this!

- Localization experience
- Microsoft Excel knowledge
- Native Speaker or PhD Graduate in Language Specialty
- Familiarity with destination names worldwide in native language
- Hard working individual
- Specialize in one of the following languages:
o Dutch
o German
- Competitive pay
- Timeframe: 6 weeks
- Short-term project
- Location: Bellevue, WA

Expedia delivers consumers everything they need for researching, planning, and purchasing a whole trip. The company provides direct access to one of the broadest selections of travel products and services through its North American Web site, localized versions throughout Europe, and extensive partnerships in Asia. Expedia serves many different consumer segments — from families booking a summer vacation to individuals arranging a quick weekend getaway.

To Apply:
Please send your résumé to apply for this position.

Jobs: Latino Online Media Job in Seattle

A good friend of ours, who works in online media in Seattle, just sent us this job posting. We don't have more information but what's listed below, but it sure does look like a fantastic opportunity. This is a full-time position in gorgeous Seattle, Washington.

If you are interested, please e-mail your résumé and contact information to Greg and put "Latino Online Media Job in Seattle" in the subject line. 

Here is the job posting:

Are you a Spanish speaker with a passion for search? Are you on top of current events and popular culture? Can you turn ordinary words into short sparkling headlines? If so, then you may be the person we need.

Major search engine/media portal is looking for a Spanish language editor to join our team working on homepage as well as other projects.  In this role, you will write engaging text, crafting an editorial calendar, researching dynamic photography, and work closely with a variety of partners to ensure the highest quality experience for our customers.

You must be able to handle multiple editorial and programming responsibilities concurrently, and work well under regular deadline pressure in a constantly evolving environment. Some weekend hours are required in this position.  Also desirable:  Some knowledge of basic HTML and content management systems.

Job duties
·        Select visually appealing images and write short, engaging text that entices users to click through to great results.
·        Edit photos using advanced Photoshop techniques to enhance the image where necessary.
·        Work closely with the US homepage team and other project editors to ensure high-quality, relevant content is surfaced. 
·        Maintain an editorial calendar of events relevant to the Latino audience.
·        Edit content written by others.
·        Participate in creative editorial reviews.
·        Contribute to other projects as needed.
In this role, you need to have
·        Strong editorial experience working as an editor or writer in a daily Web publishing environment
·        Excellent writing skills including headline and caption writing with flawless spelling and grammar in Spanish
·        A strong background in online research and experience making valid evaluations of quality either as a reviewer or editor. 
·        Ability to convey features and functions in concise meaningful words
·        Thorough understanding of online editorial best practices and priorities
·        Ability to use online content management systems and web tracking and reporting tools
·        Great interpersonal skills; strong partner management experience
·        A sense of humor
And you need to be
·        Proactive, organized, easily able to multitask and comfortable making decisions in a fast-paced environment
·        Detail-oriented, with great follow-through
·        Committed to consistently delivering quality work
·        Comfortable working in a collaborative team environment or, as needs dictate, in an independent, autonomous role

Join the conversation! Commenting is a great way to become part of the translation and interpretation community. Your comments don’t have to be overly academic to get published. We usually publish all comments that aren't spam, self-promotional or offensive to others. Agreeing or not agreeing with the issue at hand and stating why is a good way to start. Social media is all about interaction, so don’t limit yourself to reading and start commenting! We very much look forward to your comments and insight. Let's learn from each other and continue these important conversations.

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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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