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Linguist Profile: A Personal Path to Translation

Jun 19, '19 by Travon Varnado

olgaMeet Olga Montes, a translator and reviewer for Bureau Works. As most translators do, she works remotely for translation companies. Quebec, Canada is where she does all of her translation magic, and, yes, your guess is right if you assumed that French is her primary target language. Olga, who speaks, French, German, English and Spanish, was born and raised in Spain and didn’t become a language-lover until the time to transition from grade school to university drew closer and closer. Leading up to this transition, her passion revolved primarily around acting and the theater in general. The initial encounter with translation happened in grade school French and English foreign-language classes after she decided to supplement her passion for acting and theater with something more stable and promising as a prospective career.

 

From Theater to Translation

Olga’s love of theater never faded away, it merely gave birth to a new love, one which focuses her energy on the linguistic components that give depth and nuance to the theatrical expression she still loves to today. The mechanics and paralinguistic features that comprise the mysterious, yet ubiquitous, state of language vary from one language to another and are interesting to solve and deconstruct in novel situations. For her, “…grammar is like a puzzle waiting to be solved. I always loved [doing] it and I always did extra work just for fun in school”. This fascination with grammar puzzles, and later translation, continued throughout her university studies as she pursued a B.A. in French and Spanish literature. New knowledge from coursework was immediately applied on her concurrent job as a finance-document translator for a bank throughout her university education. There were other, more short-lived opportunities upon graduating, such as translating other finance related documents, and navigating bilingual contexts for children as a French instructor.

 

Working with Bureau Works

After gaining translation experience in finance, daycare, and teaching situations, entertaining translation as full-time pursuit became more alluring. Therefore, Olga searched the internet for much more substantial translation opportunities, and many presented themselves: legal-document translation for the Canadian government; translating official European documents; and translating generic court files are a few opportunities that attracted her. Testing was a prerequisite for each opportunity in order to evaluate the extent of her translation capacities, but that proved to be the easy part due to her unwavering desire to understand the grammatical structuring and principles of language since the end of grade school. Today, Olga does translation/review work for 5 different companies, of which Bureau Works is one. Just as for other jobs and companies, Olga stumbled upon Bureau Works' site through web searching and then initiated the translator onboarding process. She then took the necessary translator aptitude evaluation and exceeded the onboarding score requirements, a noteworthy feat seeing that less than 5% of translators meet the evaluation standards for entry. Olga then worked 6 months as a translator on assignments for a major Bureau Works client contract and then switched to working as a reviewer for over 2 years on assignments for the same contract. Unlike her circumstances for other translation/localization companies, she has chosen to stay and perpetually work with Bureau Works because she has unprecedented flexibility in adapting her work schedule, she feels anxiety-free in expressing different needs, and she feels connected to a community rather than feeling like an outsider in a foreign group setting. This last reason matters the most and primarily motivates her to stay indefinitely with the company.

 

The Beauty of Working with Bureau Works

Each of the companies for which Olga does contractual translation/review work has a different cultural feel to them and vary on the personal-impersonal spectrum of interaction with translators. Here is what she had to say about Bureau Works:

 

What I like about Bureau [Works] that I don’t really have with the other companies that I work for is that they are really personal and accessible; on my Skype, they’re the only company I work for that I communicate with on there… I have at least 10 people that work there, some in the Philippines, some in Brazil, and some in California who I can reach out to most of the time and say hey, I’ve got a question about this or that; or what the client is saying isn’t clear; or my review might be a little late because the assignment is bigger or more time-consuming than expected and I’ll need more time on it. I don’t feel like I’m a machine there, or just another person spitting out another [translation] document quicker than the next person. I really feel like I’m a part of a team. It’s really fun to work for them.

 

Olga’s statements on how she feels integrated with and personally recognized by the Bureau Works company speaks volumes and attests to the extent translators are valued. Nearly 6 months after attending a seminar during which the Bureau Works CEO, Gabriel Fairman, vehemently admonished the impersonal, machine-style approach to interacting with translators, it’s refreshing for me to hear Olga’s personal account of intimate engagement with the company. She appreciates the open, attentive communication and enjoys the benefits that come from it: (1) no task confusion; (2) increased efficiency; and (3) improved translation quality since open communication mitigates the potential for guessing and propagating translation/review errors.

Topics: Talent

Travon Varnado

Written by Travon Varnado

Travon is M.A. candidate for the Translation and Localization Management program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. When he isn’t learning about the latest and greatest in localization, he’s working on creative visual artwork.

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