Well, to reflect my story, the title should be reversed, really. But let me take you back to Poland, about 7 years ago. At that time I was just about to start my degree in Polish language and culture – yes, Polish. I’ve been learning English since I was 6 or so, but Polish was my first love. At that point of time, I felt like discovering Romance writers or Middle Age poetry. Don’t ask.
I also got my first translation clients pretty much by accident. There I was, my head full of hexameters and iambs, when a direct client asked me to work for them as a translator. And that’s how it all started: I discovered that I could be using the foreign languages that I’ve learned before to actually earn money. Starting with working for direct clients in translation seems to me like getting into the industry through a back door. But also that’s one of the reasons why I had to manage the business side of it so early. Direct clients taught me a lot of business skills that I put in practice further down in my career. For example, I learned how to negotiate, or how to convince clients to hire me and use my skills. This stage of my career, even though it seems very unstructured and random now, has prepared me for later developments.
However, I decided to leave my degree in Polish and move to the United Kingdom. Again, don’t ask. I think I must have read too much romantic poetry! So I came to the UK with a base of translation clients, some business knowledge and plenty of enthusiasm. I took the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting exam and started working as an interpreter as well. I really enjoyed that stage of my career, allowing me to develop my people skills as well.
And then I actually started my BA degree in Applied Translation. I learned all the theories and read all the books. What I found extremely useful was the fact that I was still working as a part-time translator when doing my degree. I think I benefited from just about the right mix of theory and practice.
By the end of my degree, I started investing quite a lot of time and energy in Continuing Professional Development, not only in translation or interpreting, but also in marketing, new technologies and IT. Looking at this stage now, I suppose that attending countless events and spending hours and hours on learning really gave me the right mind-set and impetus to grow my own business. I gained skills and knowledge, but also confidence to market my services even more. And that’s when I graduated.
I also became much more involved with our profession, blogging quite a lot and setting up the Business School for Translators. I joined the management committee of the Interpreting Division at the Chartered Institute of Linguists, and a few months later I became the co-head of the UK Chapter of the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters.
That brings us to January 2013, when I started delivering business training within the Business School for Translators with invaluable help from eCPD Webinars.And of course, I still have to find some time to translate!
Marta Stelmaszak(Registered Public Service Interpreter, Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, Associate of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting) is a Polish – English translator and interpreter working in law, IT, marketing, and business. She is a member of the Management Committee of the Interpreting Division at the Chartered Institute of Linguists and a Co-head of the UK Chapter of the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters. She hasbeen voted a Top 17 Twitterer and Top 20 Facebook Fan Page in Language Lovers 2012 contest. Marta is also a qualified business mentor and an affiliate of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.