So, graduation! A Translator? And then, what? Tess’s story!

My name is Tess Whitty, an English into Swedish freelance translator. Many people have asked how I became a translator and when Konstantina asked me to write about how I climbed the translation career ladder after my graduation, I gladly accepted.

I am born and raised in a bilingual country, Finland, speaking the minority language, Swedish there. Early on I loved reading and writing and soon developed a keen interest in languages and different cultures. Apart from my mother tongue, I studied English, Finnish, German, French and Italian in school. But I never thought about becoming a translator, in fact I barely knew that such a career existed. I ventured on with studies in International Marketing, hoping I could make use of my language skills and love for different cultures through that.

I graduated with a M.Sc. in Economics and went on to study for a M.A. in Business Communications in France and Belgium. After this I got a job as a marketing assistant in Stockholm, Sweden and worked myself up the career ladder to become a product marketing manager in IT-services for an international telecommunications company.

I met my husband 20 years ago during my studies. We met in Finland, lived in Sweden, but he is American, so when a great job opportunity in Utah, USA was presented to him, we decided to move there. At the time of the move, I was pregnant with my second child and I decided to start looking for opportunities to work from home. A friend, who knew my love for languages and that I were practically bilingual, suggested that I should look into working as a freelance translator.

I started researching the translation career and after a while I registered in a few online translation directories. After my first job, I was hooked. I was lucky that we could live on my husband’s salary and I could develop my business gradually as the children grew. After a year or so I decided to become a member of American Translators Association and invested in my first CAT-tool and that is when my career really took off. My background in marketing and IT created natural areas of specialization from the start.

That was now 10 years ago now. I have done a lot of research, taken educational classes in translation, freelancing and writing and gradually developed my translation career. There have been moments where I have had the opportunity to grow and become an agency, but so far I am quite happy being my own boss, and not be responsible for someone else. Becoming a translator was not a conscious decision at first, but something I grew to love. I am constantly learning and developing, and can take advantage of my education in languages and marketing.

Tess Whitty is a full-time freelance English intoSwedish translator since 2002, specializing in software localization, marketing and business communications. Her professional and educational background is in international marketing and business communications. Aside from her regular work, she serves as the language chair for the new English-Swedish certification program for ATA; president of the Utah Translators and Interpreters Association, and Chair of the ATA Chapters Committee. She also gives presentations on marketing and business skills for freelance translators and maintains the blog The Business of Translation. She is a member of the ATA and the Swedish Association of Professional Translators.

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