Hello, my name is Simone and after completing my B.A. in Translation at the University of Leipzig in Germany, I have been an intern at Aktuel Translations for three months. While the previous two articles on this blog mainly focused on the experience of an internship in lockdown, I would like to tell you a bit more about the tasks that the internship itself included and how a typical day as a remote intern at Aktuel Translations would go about.
On my first day, I received some theoretical information about proofreading and patent translation and I did a test translation in order to become familiar with patents, the type of text that I would deal with throughout the internship. However, by my second day, I had already received a “real” task to work on, which was really exciting for me, and also a bit overwhelming at first, but I quickly got used to it.
At first, translating patents seemed an odd type of text, and it took some time to get familiar with it, but believe me, after some weeks into the internship you will be used to it, and babble “characterized in that” in your sleep. The combination of legal documents with a variety of other highly technical contents, ranging from mechanical engineering to information technology, chemistry and a lot more, is what made the internship so challenging at first but also so rewarding and interesting in my opinion. For example, you might translate a patent for a part in an engine in the morning and learn more about antibodies in the afternoon. I was exposed to a variety of subject matters, and what I mostly translated, for example, were patents in the area of engineering. As I took a class about mechanical engineering for translators at university, I was excited to find out that I could put some of the knowledge that I remembered into use.
The way the remote internship worked was that I would receive the requests via email, confirm them and add them to my schedule. Then I would start researching prior art, terminology and so forth. After I completed the task and sent it back, it would usually take just a couple of days to receive back the proofread translation. I would then go through the document again, see where I made mistakes or where I should use a different term and read the comments that some of the proofreaders left me. Those comments and seeing the tracked changes were especially helpful for my learning process. The last step would be to produce a final, clean version to send back to the project manager.
Throughout the internship I kept a notebook with term lists, mistakes that I made and what the correct term was, and categorized the requests by subject area (engineering, chemistry, informatics, medicine, and others). While it seems quite a lot of work to keep jotting down everything, it turned out to be very helpful further along when I could just flick back some pages and reread about how to translate a certain expression instead of having to search through all of the files again to find that one word or expression that I was looking for.
Although at the beginning of the internship, I was a bit unsure whether I would enjoy translating highly technical texts on a daily basis, I was lucky to find out that I actually did. While the content required a lot of research and always changed, I felt like the patent text type (though very odd in the beginning) was something to “cling” to, because it stays the same regardless of the invention. The different areas were challenging in a positive way, expanded my technical vocabulary a lot and got me interested in areas that I previously knew very little to nothing about.
Whenever I had a question or concern, I could contact the in-house translators via Skype and I can’t stress enough how helpful this was. My mentor Rhianna, in particular, was always ready to answer all of my questions immediately and with patience. At the beginning of the internship in May, all of the in-house translators contacted me to welcome me and wish me a great experience, which I really appreciated. Francesca kindly answered my questions and shared her experience regarding the university that she attended, which I want to apply to in the autumn. One might think that doing the internship remotely means having no contact with your colleagues at all and being completely “deprived” of the social aspect of it but, although it is completely different from actually being in the office, I was welcomed with kindness into the team and my questions and concerns were always taken seriously. This is something that I did not take for granted and that I am very thankful for.
I’m grateful that I was accepted for Aktuel Translation’s internship programme because it gave me a valuable insight into the “real world” of translation, made me get used to working with deadlines and gave me a feeling for the speed and accuracy that I’d need as a professional translator. Apart from becoming more familiar with a wide range of subjects, my technical vocabulary increased significantly and I became a lot quicker at translating and researching prior art and relevant terminology.