Well, Marta, I'm not sure you actually need much of an introduction, but for those who may not be familiar with you already, could you tell us a little about who you are and what you do?
Sure! I translate business, marketing and legal texts between Polish and English. In my career, I strive to combine language and business background for the benefit of businesses opening up or selling products in Poland. I try to share as much as I know with colleagues too, through giving talks, running courses, being active on Twitter and blogging.
That’s the official part. Now, after hours I’m passionate about technology, information systems and machine learning (to the extent of embarking on a PhD related to these topics, you see). I also enjoy learning my favourite language so far: Norwegian.
How did you get started in the industry? Do you remember your first translation job?!
If you don’t count the odd unpaid CV translation for a distant family member… I guess my first jobs were actually interpreting assignments, as I was first qualified as an interpreter. I remember I was terrified but I enjoyed it immensely. I think both feelings have always accompanied me and now I have a theory that you can only be a good interpreter (or translator, for that matter) if you keep your adrenaline levels up.
You run the popular 'Business School for Translators' course. How did this come about?
It’s all thanks to Lucy Brooks from eCPD Webinars. She got in touch in the second year of my blogging adventure and she asked *the* question: have I ever considered turning the business school for translators into a real school? Well, I hadn't until then. Following Lucy’s idea, I developed a course structure and content, and we got our first sold-out run. We’re now in run 11, so the number of “graduates” is nearing 270.
What does the course offer for new and experienced freelance translators?
I like to think it’s a mini MBA for language specialists. Over almost two months we study business approaches and strategies but most of all, we work on creating sustainable, long-term, individual visions and we start putting them into practice. The Business School for Translators course is also a great network of like-minded colleagues because we should all learn from each other.
You also have a book, 'The Business Guide for Translators', available on your website. What can readers expect from this?
The Guide equips you with foundation-level concepts and knowledge of economics, business and management. It’s not career or business-building advice (there are many excellent books for translators on these topics already), but more like the course in economics you never did at the uni yet now you wish you had.
On a personal level, you have been a great inspiration to me throughout my career, and are one of my professional role models - can you name anyone who inspired you when you were getting started?
Thank you, you made me blush though! I’ve been greatly inspired by my first translation tutor from my BA at London Metropolitan University. I learned how to translate, but also how to be professional. Having said that, I think it’s absolutely essential to constantly find and identify sources of inspiration, regardless of the career level you’re at.
What would you say has been your greatest career success so far?
It’s hard to pin-point one thing. I feel quite lucky and happy that my career in general has taken the best possible turn I could imagine. Plus, I quite like celebrating the little successes that make up your every-day life. You know, sometimes you have to go through long stretches with no major “successes” or “achievements”, especially in a career where there are no promotions, no bonuses and no bosses to pat you on your back. I think this has taught me to pay more attention to the good things that come your way every day: a great project, successful negotiation, a nice email from a colleague or an invitation to be featured in an interview. Ultimately, this is what helps me keep my motivation up in the long term.
And your biggest challenge?
Balancing life and work when boundaries are not clear-cut. While I don’t support separating the two and treating work like this dreadful period of sacrifice that you have to go through to be able to live, I know I have tendencies to be a bit workaholic. I think it’s important to make work and life a complete whole and this has been really challenging for me in the past few years.
What's the most valuable piece of business advice you have ever received?
Again, it’s hard to name one. What I consider to be the most valuable lesson for me is understanding that it all boils down to getting things done. The best vision, the best piece of advice, the most helpful mentor won’t make things magically appear. Doing what needs to be done: sending emails, going to meetings, constantly getting better, talking to people and picking up the phone – these are the things that make your business grow.
What tips would you give to someone just getting started in the translation industry?
Don’t get caught up in the world of negativity and complaining. Of course it’s not all roses but almost every other profession is going through similar transformations, risks and challenges as the translation industry. Instead, stand your ground and dare to create your own professional future.