Written on 3 May, 2023

Kia ora! My name is Helen and I have had the pleasure of interning at Surrey Translation Bureau (STB) this April. I entered this internship fresh from my MA in Applied Translation, and while I was confident in my linguistic abilities, there was still a piece of the puzzle missing: hands-on industry experience.

Being from Aotearoa, New Zealand, I was a little apprehensive beforehand about how I would fit into the working culture. However, from day one I was eased into a calm office environment and felt warmly welcomed into the team, who are also from diverse backgrounds themselves.

I was grateful to receive my full schedule for the weeks ahead as soon as I started, as this enabled me to track my progression and prepare for upcoming tasks. The pace of the programme struck the perfect balance between time learning and time to absorb information. There was also room for flexibility, as my line manager Marzia paid careful attention to my needs and regularly checked in to make sure I was getting the best experience possible.

My weeks here were a beautiful mixture of individual linguistic work, 1:1 tutorial sessions and assigned tasks. The best bit? Being able to get a taste for every department. This rotational aspect of the internship is a phenomenally effective way to expand your skillset, and gives you the chance to explore the different roles in the industry and get a feel for which department suits you best.


Project Management

My first two weeks at STB focused on project management. It was fascinating to witness the full life cycle of a translation project, all the way from an initial client request to the final delivery of a translation project.

Shadowing the in-house PMs gave me an insight into how they juggle multiple on-going projects in real-time. It was valuable to see not only how PMs manage their priorities, but also the thinking that goes into it. I was impressed by the professionalism each PM showed towards their clients, and how adaptable they were in their approaches.

On a deeper level, I was able to investigate the specialisms of each in-house PM. It highlighted that each PM is not only experienced but also actively expanding their horizons to cope with future industry changes. For example, Greg took me through his specialism in Machine Translation and Sonia introduced me to her specialism in legislative processes. Learning about these sub-sectors made the translation world seem all the more colourful.

Aside from shadowing, I also looked at file prep training, localisation, monolingual editing, and used Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) tools, such as Trados 2021, for my own linguistic work. Gaining more exposure to CAT tools was high on my upskill list, and it was gratifying to use Trados to produce my own translation work. STB even went to the lengths of outsourcing a professional Japanese to English translator to give me feedback on my linguistic work, known as ‘linguistic surgery’, as expertise in my language combination was not available in-house. They also provided source texts into a range of genres, which allowed me to expand my comfort zone.

Time in Operations: Marketing, Resource Management and Sales

Spending time in these departments highlighted that there are numerous ways one can contribute to this industry that aren’t limited to translation itself.

Marketing took me ‘behind the scenes’, showing me how promotional material is created and spread across various channels. Marketing Manager Marya helped me expand my knowledge of digital tools (such as Canva) and all the platforms where STB interfaces with the outside world. I was also given the opportunity and creative license to write an article for the blog page. This helped me to sharpen my appellative writing and research skills. I really enjoyed producing content with real-life applications.

Indi took me under her wing in Resource Management, where I assisted in the onboarding process of STB’s freelance translator pool. It was fascinating to see the range of freelance profiles that comprise the talent pool, and to see how STB maintains all these relationships.

With Craig in Sales, I gained exposure to how the business monitors its progress and the ways it takes action to boost it. One fun task I attempted was to deliver a 30-second elevator pitch, which challenged my persuasive speaking abilities, and made me feel like I was on Dragons’ Den.

Towards the end of my time at STB, Operations Manager Hannah sat down with me to workshop my CV, providing industry insights and advice. My updated CV is now much more succinct and packed with skills that I have acquired during my internship.

Kickstart your career

For anyone looking for a nurturing, professional environment to get some hands-on translation industry experience, I cannot recommend STB enough. The mentorship you receive from each team member will boost your confidence and spark a passion for your future role in this industry. I leave this internship with a clearer understanding of how a translation agency operates on all levels, and a set of transferable skills to bring to the workforce.

In the end, the heart of your experience lies in the support around you, and the wonderful staff at STB deserve a lot of credit for making my internship such a rewarding experience.

Helen Clark

If you are interested in an internship with Surrey Translation Bureau, please find more details at https://www.surreytranslation.co.uk/internships/. We look forward to hearing from you!