I decided to complete an internship with the team at Aktuel, following on from university. I studied French and Italian at Durham University and then moved to the University of Bath to complete a postgraduate degree in translation and interpreting.
Upon leaving university, in the middle of the pandemic, I knew that I wanted to launch my career in the translation industry. However, I did not have any voluntary or professional translation experience on my CV yet. I understand that experience in translation is crucial to getting regular work and excelling in the profession but the world of freelancing seemed daunting to me at such a young and inexperienced age, as I really had no clue where to start! Therefore, an internship seemed ideal.
I searched for any translation internship opportunities that were still running in the pandemic (because most had been cancelled while we all worked from home). That is when I came across Aktuel, and, after asking some initial questions about the internship, I began the application process: CV and cover letter, application form, translation tests and an interview. I was impressed from the beginning at how all the paperwork was managed and how quickly my colleagues got back to me.
The internship started in January 2021. I immediately felt welcomed, valued and supported by the rest of the team. We all exchanged emails and Skype contacts on day one and it made communication much quicker and easier, which is especially important when starting a new role from home.
In addition to translating, I came to the internship wanting to learn about the entire translation process, how a translation company really works and what project managers do. The internship has taught me all of this and more. I have done a fair amount of translation – more than I expected! I have translated an entire patent, some patent claims and a chapter from a history book. I have also learned a lot about patents and other technical documents, customer service and giving translations a final proofread – including those in languages I am less familiar with.
Proofreading did not take too long to grasp. With languages I am less familiar with, it was sometimes challenging to know what was a mistake and what was a translation – especially acronyms! I soon came to recognise common phrases – particularly in German and Polish. But I was mainly checking that the translation was complete: nothing was missing, and all the numbers, lists, acronyms and proper nouns were copied correctly. It is like imagining myself as the client reading the final document: these aspects are the areas I would check to ensure I could trust the translation is done to a very high standard. I was often given longer translations to check – they take a while as they can be over 200 pages long!
The internship is also an opportunity to be creative. I feel like my ideas are very valued at Aktuel. I have been given the chance to contribute to website meetings, write blogs, research into ways of improving the company’s online presence and even tweet! I love being creative and learning new things which fall outside of what would typically be expected of a translator. For me, one of the many benefits of being part of a smaller company is the chance to learn a variety of new skills and really help to grow the business.
My time interning with Aktuel has been very enjoyable and I would really recommend it to anyone reading this who is considering doing similar. It has provided me with the experience I wanted, and more! Having the internship on my CV has already helped with the graduate job hunting considerably. I did not think I would be offered a job with Aktuel after finishing the internship, so I was still applying for jobs elsewhere in the initial months and managed to get some interviews and even offers. It has been incredibly worthwhile. But best of all, I am delighted to have accepted the role of an in-house translator and project manager with Aktuel. Hopefully, I have many more happy years ahead with the company.