Translation internship – the first step in a translator’s career

EUATC Network member Lexika, based in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia has designed an internship programme to support the next generation of linguists. Here its vendor manager Eva Dinušová gives an insight into what students can expect.

“What is your experience?” Every employer asks this question when establishing cooperation. And this is true regardless of the industry, whether you’re the in-house translator or freelancer.

How can promising translators gather experience during their studies? Lexika’s vendor manager, Eva Dinušová (pictured), has an answer: join the translation internship.

Translation internship – what is the goal and what will the student get?

The internship offers skilled students the opportunity to engage with professional work in a translation environment. The internship is unpaid, but students will receive translation feedback from professional linguists. This is the most valuable thing that will help new translators move forward in their careers.

Every student who applies without being prompted deserves recognition, as they are eager to gather as much experience as possible during their studies. This also shows in their motivation, because they truly pushed themselves.

How long does a translation internship last and who can take part? 

Every translation agency offering student programs have their own set up. At Lexika the translation internship is open to students of the Department of Translation and Interpreting, primarily during their 3rd and 4th year of university study. By this time, they already have some translation experience, at least within the university. They have enough time left before graduation to complete the internship. Also, many have already basic experience with CAT tools, which is certainly an advantage, as they will work actively with these tools during the internship.

The translation internship lasts about a year. Translation from English into Slovak is the most popular language combination. Interns translate texts in a specific area, which is also helping them gain basic specialization preferences.

Talent and motivation – the keys to a successful internship  

I sincerely acknowledge that earning one of our internships is not easy. We first launched an internship for future translators in 2016. When starting out, our membership in the Slovak Association of Translation Companies which has very good relationships with major translation departments in the country helped us spread the word and attract the right talent.

Every year, a significant number of candidates from national universities as well as Slovak translation students studying abroad apply. Due to our capacity, we cannot offer a place to everyone and we are selecting the most motivated and talented candidates.

The multi-step selection process consists of native languages skills verification, assessing the motivation and career direction and communication style of the candidates. Translation competences are assessed by the inevitable test translation reviewed by our specific   reviewer.

One step closer to a professional translation career

Important part of a successful internship programme is our cooperation with senior translators and reviewers willing to go the extra mile. Besides reviewing translation they provide useful feedback and advice to their junior colleagues.

After successfully completing the internship, highly skilled translators are offered future cooperation – though still under the supervision of an experienced linguist. There have been students who concluded an internship and we continued to work with them thanks to their excellent translations and approach. Since then, they have become established translators and some of our long-term collaborators.

What do our interns say?

This is how some of our past interns describe their own experience.

I really liked the internship. I received various translations from different areas, so I could try a little bit from each sector. I was also happy about the quick revisions and the project managers who were excellent, very nice and helpful. I could have used more time for longer and more professional translations, but I understand that this is not always possible. I learned a lot, for which I am very grateful. 

Bianka, Pavol Jozef Šafárik University

I really appreciated the opportunity to work in a professional environment and get professional feedback. The Lexika internship gave me a great deal of experience and knowledge that I would never have gained during my studies. I highly recommend this internship to students who are serious about translation. If you want to make a living from it, you have to go for it yourself, as it will never come by itself. It can be difficult to take the first step, since there are many options and without meaningful experience you cannot get any of them. The Lexika internship is the perfect first step to get on the right track and start walking the path of a professional translator.

Michal, Matej Bel University

A student internship at Lexika was really beneficial for me as a student of translation and interpreting. I had the opportunity to test how working with a translation agency works, how CAT tools are used professionally and how important they are for us as students in our future practice. In addition, I found the feedback from the reviewers very useful, as it gave me the opportunity to improve my translation skills greatly.

Diana, Comenius University

The most important part of any internship is feedback. It is important that it is detailed and critical, because nothing drives personal and professional growth like learning from one’s own mistakes. Communication between the translator and the reviewer, as well as the opportunity to discuss the revised text, are valuable tools that will especially help beginning translators. During the internship, I also learned to work with CAT tools, such as memoQ and Smartling, which are often used professionally. A great benefit was also the fast and professional communications and the helping hands, which were always available.

Daniel, Matej Bel University