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Pro Bono
Thread poster: Michael Purvis

Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:13
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Just another type of exploitation Nov 19, 2012

Питер wrote:

There are plenty of unpaid internships in my country - actually a few translation agencies that I work with use interns. Some unpaid internships are actually quite competitive. I am going to withhold my opinion on this subject. However, I wonder whether or not this is a common practice in other parts of the world?


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:13
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I'm certainly not against pro bono work Nov 19, 2012

Samuel Murray wrote:

Sheila Wilson wrote:
ATIL KAYHAN wrote:
Why not? A job is a job.

A job is PAID FOR.


Yes, I think that is the ideal, but from the perspective of someone who wants to break into the translation market and who is willing to do pro bono work, a job is more than just something that you get money for. A job is a commission. A job is a set of requirements that you are expected to fulfil to the best of your ability. The benefit of doing pro bono jobs (for newcomers) is about more than just getting experience in the actual translation work -- it also teaches how to deal with clients and how to apply professional and ethical standards in a practical way.

I collaborate actively with TWB, mainly in reviewing translator applications, so I'm clearly not against pro bono work. However, the term we use is a shortened one: look it up in the Oxford Dictionary and you'll find that the complete term is 'pro bono publico'. In other words, it isn't work that's done free for the good of Joe Bloggs or John Doe, it's done for the community as a whole.

I understand the problem that new translators have, but it's a problem we all faced, and all freelancers in other areas face, too. Did we all translate commercial texts for free? I certainly didn't.

My advice to the OP: when you don't have any paid work, spend all your time actively looking for the next (or first) job and actively marketing yourself so that anybody with a job knows where to come. Plus there's training and just general "finding out" to be done. It really horrifies me when I see the muddles that so many new translators get in by rushing to accept their first job before they even know what their tax situation is, how to invoice, what rates to ask for, how to get paid, etc.

If you really want to work, for free, maybe you could contact people who have interesting websites or blogs in your source language, that you believe would interest speakers of your target language. But restrict your contact to private individuals and associations who would never think of paying for a translation. Also, Jessica's link looks interesting, as long as commercial clients aren't disguising their work as pro bono.


 

Amy Lesiewicz  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:13
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator Nov 19, 2012

I recommend reading "How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator" by Corinne McKay, "The Entrepreneurial Linguist: The Business-School Approach to Freelance Translation" by Judy and Dagmar Jenner, and "The Prosperous Translator" by Chris Durban. The authors are all successful translators who started out just like the rest of us, as clueless newbies. You can buy their books from Amazon or any other service, or you may find them at your public library.
If you aren't a member of your country's p
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I recommend reading "How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator" by Corinne McKay, "The Entrepreneurial Linguist: The Business-School Approach to Freelance Translation" by Judy and Dagmar Jenner, and "The Prosperous Translator" by Chris Durban. The authors are all successful translators who started out just like the rest of us, as clueless newbies. You can buy their books from Amazon or any other service, or you may find them at your public library.
If you aren't a member of your country's professional T&I organization, I recommend joining. In the US, that's the American Translators Association (www.atanet.org). They also have local chapters, a great way to meet and network with colleagues in your area. Hopefully they can help you find ways to gain experience and confidence without working for peanuts. Pro bono work is good for non-profits, but I wouldn't recommend working for a commercial client for free (or for peanuts).

Remember that you have valuable skills and deserve to be paid as a professional. A good way to gain valuable clients is to specialize, and to really emphasize and promote your specialization. If you don't have a specialization, use your down time to read up, take classes, or otherwise become an expert in one or two specific fields.

Good luck!
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XXXphxxx (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:13
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Do your research Nov 19, 2012

Be very careful indeed with the "non-profits". A number of them, including the very well-known ones, will hire consultants for hefty fees yet expect translation to be done pro bono. Expect a lot of mixed views on this.

 

Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:13
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Agree Nov 19, 2012

Lisa Simpson, MCIL wrote:

Be very careful indeed with the "non-profits". A number of them, including the very well-known ones, will hire consultants for hefty fees yet expect translation to be done pro bono. Expect a lot of mixed views on this.


Which is why I've stopped doing pro-bono altogether and wish that everyone would do the same. Just imagine the benefits.

PS: Has the original poster vanished? Any comments?


 

Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:13
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Agree Nov 19, 2012

Lisa Simpson, MCIL wrote:

Be very careful indeed with the "non-profits". A number of them, including the very well-known ones, will hire consultants for hefty fees yet expect translation to be done pro bono. Expect a lot of mixed views on this.


Absolutely.

Out of respect for one's own work, one should check out the beneficiaries with the same care that they exercise when donating money. As a rule of thumb: if you are not ready to write a check to for a nonprofit, you should not work for them pro bono either.

Best,
Attila


 

Anne R
Italy
Local time: 20:13
English to French
+ ...
Agree with Diana Nov 19, 2012

Diana Coada wrote:
Lisa Simpson, MCIL wrote: Be very careful indeed with the "non-profits". A number of them, including the very well-known ones, will hire consultants for hefty fees yet expect translation to be done pro bono. Expect a lot of mixed views on this.
Which is why I've stopped doing pro-bono altogether and wish that everyone would do the same. Just imagine the benefits.


I too have done some pro-bono as you call them, I do it more and more rarely, the reason being that I sometimes have very little time to take on non paid work, but also, I have seen big translation projects being requested by well known international NGOs that have with funds to pay consultants, as Lisa rightly says, and I'd rather help smaller organisations with little money and, if possible, smaller translation projects.


 
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