Gain Experience through Volunteer Translation

By Bushra L.
In many job postings, recruiters require previous experience in translation. However, newly-graduated translators face the dilemma of taking on very low-rate translation work due to their inexperience or looking for unpaid short-term internships. In the absence of such opportunities in translation, translators cannot gain experience. Therefore, how can beginner translators acquire translation experience before their first job in this field?

Volunteer work can be a good alternative for newly-graduated translators. Many Arab translators, for example, assume that they accept very low rates to practice translation and gain experience. This is because they think it is the only way to acquire translation experience that can be mentioned in their resume and cover letter.

During their studies, in their free time or immediately after graduation, translators can work on volunteer projects to get some experience. In this way, lack of experience cannot be an excuse for recruiters to refuse the applicant or to pay a very low rate. Therefore, volunteer translators can refer to their translations published or provide a certificate proving their volunteer work in their work application. Meeting the experience requirement can enable the translator to apply for a job and have an interview or pass a written exam.

The volunteer work is done with non-profit organizations that should not sell the translator’s work to a third party. Also, the translation would normally be read by a proofreader. Therefore, the beginner translator benefits from this work and compares his work and the revision. Besides, translators who feel satisfied helping others can offer their translation skill for free to spread the word and share knowledge.

If you are interested in volunteer work in translation, you can contact some of these organizations that need volunteer translators:

Ziid is an online platform open to translators and writers to contribute articles and translations in Arabic for free to the website. The translation will bear the name of its translator. It will also be revised and approved before being published. This website aims to bring added-value to the Arabic e-content and provide young people with an opportunity to showcase their talents and skills.
Defence for Children International (DCI) is an independent non-governmental organization founded in 1979. It has been promoting and protecting children’s rights on a global, regional, national and local level. Translation is a way to be involved in its work through volunteer opportunities.
Translators without borders is a non-profit organization that works with volunteer translators worldwide. Through translation for non-profit and aid organizations, the organization aims to better serve communities and facilitate people’s access to vital knowledge in their language. In the organization’s blog, a Palestinian student says that her volunteer work enables her to improve her language skills and help others by bridging the linguistic gap. The need for translations in the areas of crisis relief, health and education shows that language matters in humanitarian work.
United Nations Volunteers: translators can contribute to the work of organizations through online translation. Volunteer translators collaborate online with non-profit organizations that work for peace and development. According to the UN online volunteerism website, these organizations issue an electronic certificate of appreciation to volunteers. In addition to translation, there are other ways of volunteering such as writing, editing, and research. As a result, these volunteers can develop their skills and receive a certificate as a proof of their volunteer work.

Hence, there are many other non-profit organizations that work online with volunteer translators. These translators gain experience, get references, and build a portfolio of translation samples. Volunteer translation is therefore beneficial for the translator’s career.

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