Conversamos com Nigel Saych, sobre alguns aspetos da sua profissão, sobre a importância do associativismo e ainda sobre alguns conselhos para a nova geração de profissionais.
APTRAD: Tell us a little bit about yourself, how you started out in this career, and what made you choose it.
Translation was my second career. After two decades working in international education in the Netherlands, I made a career switch, retrained, and started a new life as a freelance translator. I had no idea at the time that I would go on to run a successful translation company offering more than thirty languages! My main reason for choosing this profession was the same one that made me become a teacher in the first place, a fascination for language and communication.
APTRAD: How would you describe a “normal” day in your working life?
Name one translator who knows what a ‘normal day’ is! Before I handed over the organisation of my company, I was doing quite a lot of administration work, though I always restricted my time to one third administration, two thirds translating. I am not a natural office manager; I am a linguist. Delegating office management gives me more time to translate, and means my colleagues have a better understanding of my company, and how it works.
APTRAD: Are you a member of any professional association/organisation? If you are, what made you join it? If not, why haven’t you joined yet?
I am associated with several Dutch organisations, even though my mother tongue is English. I am a member of SENSE (a society for English speaking professionals in the Netherlands) and helped them organise their conferences in 2018 (in-person) and 2020 (online). I also have links with the NGTV and VZV, having given presentations to both these professional Dutch associations in previous years.
APTRAD: From your experience, what makes a “good” professional in this area?
Being a ‘good professional’ translator, is not really any different to being a ‘good professional’ anything else. In my case it means taking your work seriously but taking yourself less so. I know too many translators who have a low opinion of themselves, and quite a few who think they are super-human. Both are wrong in my opinion. For me, being professional means being honest, staying calm and always searching for ways to improve – even if you already think you are perfect…
APTRAD: What do you like the most and what do you like the least about your work?
I love the flexibility that comes with the job. In my twenty years teaching young children, my career followed a set pattern, my days were predetermined, every minute was planned, I never had a moment for myself – yet I loved it! As a freelance translator I discovered the freedom of being able to plan my own time. At first it was a challenge, as it was something I had never previously been required to do. Of course, there is not the security that a full-time job offers, but I certainly never want to own an alarm clock again!
APTRAD: What advice would you give someone who wants to become a translator and/or interpreter?
Difficult question in a profession that is changing so quickly. My own experience may not apply to others, as I was into middle age before choosing my (second) career. The challenges for young graduates considering a career in translation or interpretation are enormous nowadays; but so, in my opinion, are the rewards. Just being a good linguist is no longer enough; you need to be a good organizer, have good business sense, good IT skills and be prepared to take risks.
APTRAD: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
If you can make it work, you will be entering one of the best jobs in the world! You will be doing something you love; you will have a huge amount freedom to organize your time, the constantly growing online community of linguists is there to help you, and after two years of isolation, you can now get out and meet other professionals in person. Seize these opportunities but be warned; it can be addictive; I have tried three times to retire, each time without success!
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My name is Nigel Saych and I am founder and owner of Interlex Language Services, operating in the Netherlands for the past twenty years. I am also a full-time translator, which is why I choose not to use the title CEO. I have given 25 presentations at translation conferences across Europe and beyond, I organized an international conference in Rotterdam in 2015 and have also been involved in recent years in helping to organize conferences in the Netherlands and Ukraine. I recently reorganised my business, downsized and upgraded it to a ‘boutique’ translation company and I now concentrate on translating for the leisure, tourism, and sustainable travel sectors. I like to describe Interlex as a ‘Fair Trade Translation Company’.