Tradutores e Intérpretes pelo Mundo – Carlos la Orden

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Tradutores e Intérpretes pelo Mundo – Carlos la Orden

Carlos la Orden is a Spanish software localizer, technical translator, and translation technology trainer based in Italy. We talked to him about some of the aspects of his career in localization and technology, the importance of associations, and he gave some advice for the new generation of professionals.

APTRAD: Tell us a little bit about yourself, how you started out in this career, and what made you choose it.

Even if I have been working in the language industry since 2001 —right after obtaining my Degree in Translation & Interpreting—, I was originally meant to become a language teacher: I briefly worked in an infant schoolteacher in the UK before I felt that I wanted to do more as far as languages and technology, my two greatest passions along with music, are concerned. Translation, and more specifically technical and IT translation, seemed the perfect way to combine my language skills with my geeky side.

I didn’t start full-time as a translator: I worked in several different countries (10, if my traveller memory serves me right) and combined office jobs with the occasional translation gig to keep my skills updated.

My early work experience includes tech companies call centres (Nokia/Sitel), a localization LSP as a project manager, and many other colourful jobs around the world, from street musician to press writer, rainforest farm helper, or cook at a surf camp by the Pacific Ocean (!). I have been regularly teaching at online platforms and at universities in the last decade, as I would never be able to renounce to the part of myself who loves teaching and sharing knowledge.

All those experiences have helped me in varying degrees understand how I could pursue a path that is both useful to the world and rewarding to myself. Big words, sure, but that’s what you’d call a purpose. Little by little, and with perseverance and enthusiasm, you put yourself in a position that allows you to reach the right people and the right projects. If you take advantage of those moments, it is only natural to step up and become more fulfilled. So that should answer your question: “Why you chose it?” 😊

APTRAD: How would you describe a “normal” day in your working life?

Since I happily wear many hats in any given period of the year (although late autumn and spring are particularly intense), I very rarely have a full working week that looks exactly the same as any other throughout the year.

I split my time between (catches air) translation, localization, proofreading, lecturing at the university, tutoring my other students at online courses, doing presentations and attending events (the best part of the package!), providing training and consulting to companies on language technology and CAT tools, and actively engaging in conversations on social media, which play an important role in my exposure and profile.
Needless to say, all of this while trying to reach a balanced schedule because I privilege my spare time and try to have as much time off and holiday periods as possible.
Spoiler: I do have a lot of spare time and holidays nowadays, although reaching a good balance takes time and plenty of trial & error.

Side note: Even if I have a declared love for numbers and maths, I hate the invoicing & accounting side, but that’s part of a game you cannot play without doing its more annoying side, isn’t it?

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?

Enthusiastically yes, I am! I am a member of ASETRAD, the main translator’s association in Spain and play an active role in ELIA, the European Language Industry Association, where I have been regularly involved in different industry events and helped organize their flagship ELIA Together event for several years.

I cannot stress enough how attending events and joining a professional association can be a game changer for any freelancer or LSP regardless of their size, market exposure, and overall business health. The more you get involved with your association, the more rewards you reap: expanded networking, business opportunities, structured training, and a priceless sense of belonging, particularly for those who traditionally believe that translation is a lonely job. We are not alone, and we walk this path together (which, by the way, makes things way more interesting and fun)!

APTRAD: From your experience, what makes a “good” professional in this area?

An insatiable curiosity, an eye for detail, and a sixth sense (developed with tons of practice) to understand what your clients really want, sometimes even beyond what they state with words. Continuous Professional Development also plays an important role, while attending events and being an active member of an association will definitely help you understand how to position your services, talk the right talk, and meet the right people to improve your overall status as a professional.

I have met way too many fellow translators that have great hard skills (attention to detail, vast cultural knowledge, and a fair set of tech skills) that systematically complain about not being able to reach good-quality clients and LSPs, and instead play the same low-rate, poor-communication, unskilled-network game over and over again. The only way to push up your game is to become part of something bigger than your daily activity in your home office.

APTRAD: What do you like the most and what do you like the least about your work?

There are many things I love about my job, but being able to meet interesting people, whether they are clients, fellow freelancers, academics, or LSP team members/owners at industry and fringe events always gives me an incomparable boost of energy! I love speaking onstage and sharing information, but I also enjoy spending crazy amounts of time looking for the right term, the best wording, or the most fitting collocation to produce a translation that fills me with pride!

On the downside, I am not particularly fond of the paperwork and accounting side of the job, but hey, this is the best possible world! “Client feedback implementation” is also a much-dreaded subject line when I open my mailbox, especially when those arrive while you are terribly busy with another project (namely, always).

APTRAD: What advice would you give someone who wants to become a translator and/or interpreter?

If you have a passion for languages and building bridges between people and cultures, and want to become part of one of the friendliest and intimately rewarding industries in the world, then translation and interpreting is for you! It will open many doors and empower you with tools to help many people —and yourself, of course— travel the world, run their lives, quench your knowledge thirst on an ongoing basis, and fulfil an important mission: looking at yourself in the mirror and saying, “I love my job”!

APTRAD: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

There is a distinct amount of passion in what we do, and when you show it, it pays off by boosting your profile and facilitating networking and business. However, if you are walking your first steps in the industry and are not sure about, well, most things related to your daily work and financials, do not let others undermine your enthusiasm and prey on your passion by accepting conditions that do not allow you to live the life you want to lead, whether we are talking about financials, work-life balance, or happiness in a broader sense.

Thank you, Carlos, for answering our questions!

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Carlos has hit the milestone of 20 years providing language services and training for companies and individuals all over the world.

He has lived and developed his skills in 10 different countries, proudly working as a Technology Trainer, Localization Project Manager, School Teacher and, of course, Translator. His natural inclination towards learning and gathering new experiences has driven his career by mixing academic and business life.

Over the years, he has worked with dozens of international clients such as Amazon, Microsoft, 3M, Cisco, SDL/RWS, and Nokia, to name a few. He is a regular at translation industry events and loves sharing knowledge with fellow professionals in order to build a better, more human, yet tech-oriented industry led by happy people.

He lives in a beautiful village near Pisa (Italy) and splits his time as a Lecturer at the University of Bologna, speaker and freelance Language & Technology Consultant and Localizer.