Case study

Translator and managing director — Silvia Ferrero

If you want to get into freelance translation Silvia believes that business and marketing skills are just as important as linguistic skills

How did you get your job?

I was quite fortunate after graduation because I found an in-house job in the localisation department of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, which combined two of my passions, languages and videogames.

After a few years in the company, I felt that I needed a new challenge, so I decided to quit to become a freelance translator. That path led me to creating my own localisation company, Medialoc.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

It was crucial. My BA in English studies with French and German provided me with a solid base, but without an MA in translation I don't think I would have had the opportunities I've had in the localisation industry.

What are your main work activities?

I tend to get up early so I can do some work before the barrage of emails arrives at 9am. Then, depending on the projects I am working on, I have to either translate or project manage.

The work often includes updating the translations after the client makes changes, or if they initially forgot to add some text.

Apart from the actual translation work a lot of the time is spent answering enquiries about upcoming projects, preparing quotes, invoicing, marketing, etc.

How has your role developed?

My role has developed greatly in the last few years, as more technology has become available and I'm not just talking about CAT (computer-assisted translation) tools.

For instance, The Cloud is very important these days, but a few years ago we wouldn't even have thought about working in it. It's the same for services like machine translation post-editing; they are becoming more widespread when in the past they didn't even exist.

The subject areas and the languages also evolve constantly, so it's crucial to keep up with the most recent developments.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I am passionate about languages, so I enjoy the translation aspect most. I also enjoy project management and working with some amazing professionals from a range of languages and cultures.

I am quite curious when it comes to new technologies, so I love having the opportunity to acquire new technical skills on a regular basis, which help me work faster and more effectively.

And finally, nothing beats the freedom of running your own business, which is extremely rewarding.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

Without a doubt, juggling deadlines. When you're busy you end up working on several projects at the same time, which means numerous emails from several clients with changes, updates, queries, etc.

It can be challenging to keep on top of everything. That said, missing a deadline is not acceptable.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

If you are thinking of going into freelance translation or running your own business, I would advise you to acquire some business and marketing skills, which are just as important as your linguistic skills.

Don't be tempted to start with lower rates to get your foot in the door, market your services and make sure your value comes across and charge accordingly. To act any differently is a disservice to you and to the industry.

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