Newbies, clients will not knock on your door nor fall on your laps


I recently read an article on Forbes (in Spanish) about the mistakes recently graduated students make when looking for a job. It got me into thinking that the same old mistakes repeat themselves over and over again, and it is not something exclusive of the translation area. Is it a generation z issue?

Even though there are endless articles on the internet mentioning the Dos and Don’ts, newbies keep asking the same questions and making the same mistakes – what is even worse. Even this post is repetitive! I have already written here a few posts with advice to those who are starting out. To name but a few, only here in my blog (both in English and in Portuguese, as you can see):

Don’t wait for things to fall from the sky. Go and get it!
Conselhos aos tradutores iniciantes
How to establish rates
O começo
Some personal heartfelt tips for newbies
Dear beginner
Lidando com o início da carreira

I guess there is no need to question my availability and willingness to help newbies, right? And here I am again trying to put some sense into your heads.

However, people, for Jerome’s sake, research! There is absolutely no excuse nowadays for claiming you do not know something. We have Google! Not having experience is NOT an excuse for anything, especially in our profession. Every established professionals were newbies someday and they had to figure it out by themselves. I had to figure absolutely everything out by myself. I did not have a mentor, nor did I know anyone who was already an established translator. No client fell on my lap as by a divine miracle. I had to chase them like crazy! I learned things practically banging my head against a wall.

It is not easy. As it isn’t in any profession. Life is not easy. Deal with it. Whinning and blaming is not going to get you anywhere. Hard work will. And persistence. And willpower.

Please note that this is not me ranting against newbies who ask and want to learn, this is me ranting against newbies who ask before even researching and trying to find out by themselves. Research, first. Did not find it out? Research more. And again. And again. Then ask. People may already be busy with their own questions, so do not waste their time with questions you could really find the answers for by yourself.

As a dear colleague and friend just posted on Facebook, “The good translator is not the one who knows everything (there is no such a thing). The good translator is rather the one who knows where/how to research and who to ask.”

To sum it up and end this post with tips from established translators, I recently asked on my social media channels: “If you could give only one piece of advice to a recently graduated translation student about how to get into the freelance translation market, what would it be?” Here are the answers:

  • Provide your clients with high-quality translations.
  • Acquire experience through an in-house internship or a partnership with a more seasoned colleague.
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Learn how to use CAT tools.
  • Don’t settle for lower rates, ask to be paid what you deserve.
  • Find yourself a mentor.
  • Never stop learning.
  • Don’t listen to people on social media.
  • Be professional: deliver what was promised and, if possible, go beyond.
  • Chat with established professionals.
  • Read books on the area.
  • Always review your work: one bad job can ruin your reputation.
  • Study, study, study!
  • Pay attention to the world around you: What does it need? What do you need? How will you do it?
  • Study your target language.
  • Take some business classes: professional knowledge will lead to further learning; lack of business savvy will lead to failure.
  • Get on Twitter and start networking with other linguists from all over the world.

7 thoughts on “Newbies, clients will not knock on your door nor fall on your laps

  1. As someone who also had to learn things the hard way, I could not agree more! The secret is definitely hard work, persistence, and willpower, but also discipline in the Aristotelian sense of seeking excellence as a matter of habit. Lovely post, Carol! 🙂


  2. Pingback: Weekly translation favorites (Oct 23-29)

  3. As a newbie, I am happy to see I mostly follow what you said about searching…Asking on forums/groups is only the last thing I do when I really don’t have any other solution and I think, not only you save everyone’s time doing so, but you also learn a lot more on the way than being thrown the answer at without any explanation behind!
    Very good post indeed 😉


    • Hi, Kevin!

      Welcome to my blog!

      I’m really glad you do. And I completely agree with you when you say one can “also learn a lot more on the way than being thrown the answer at without any explanation behind”. Wise words.

      Keep up the great work!

      Thank you so much for visiting and reading my post!

      All the best


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