Thoughts about an internship with STB, shared by Hannah Perl

Written on 24 February, 2023

I recently completed a four-month internship at Surrey Translation Bureau (STB). The first month was spent gaining valuable experience working across different departments within the agency, with the other three months focusing specifically on resource management. In this blog, the first in a two-part series, I will be talking about the insights I gained into the various aspects of a professional translation company, from sales and marketing to project management and translation.

After five years studying languages and translation at university, I left my master’s feeling prepared to take on the translation industry and begin my career as a linguist – theoretically, at least. In reality, I discovered that I knew very little about the industry itself, how it works, what else goes on in an agency other than translation, and how relevant the linguistic tasks I had completed during my studies actually were.

I chose to apply for a position at STB as the internship seemed to offer a unique, well-rounded, and comprehensive experience, as well as the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the industry. On day one, I was presented with a meticulous, and carefully thought-out schedule that allowed just the right amount of time for me to listen, process and consolidate what I would learn in my training with practical tasks. Within the first two days I discovered that it was not just my schedule that received this unwavering attention to detail; everything that happens in the agency is done with the utmost care in order to maintain the highest possible standards, as underlined by their ISO-certified status.

Hannah Perl

 

Project Management and Translation

My line manager was one of the excellent Project Managers (PMs), Marzia, who was always on hand to answer questions, provide useful feedback and give top tips and tricks on best practice. Her kind, welcoming and supportive approach really stood out to me and immediately put me at ease within the team, allowing me to comfortably settle into my role.

I spent my first two weeks with the Project Management and Translation teams, where I had individual 1-2-1 training sessions on project workflow, localisation, PEMT, file preparation, quality-assurance practices and CAT tools. Linguistic tasks from a variety of different industry areas were also selected for me to complete throughout the weeks, ahead of 1-2-1 linguistic feedback sessions at the end of each week with experienced project manager and linguist, Nicki. The opportunity to translate texts from outside of my comfort zone, learn to use CAT tools, and have these translations reviewed by a working professional was an invaluable experience and a great opportunity for my personal linguistic development.

By shadowing PMs, I was able observe the whole life cycle of various projects to see just how much goes into the project management process and how fast-paced the role is. Once I had a grasp of the PM workflow, I was able to carry out some of my own PM tasks, giving me the chance to gauge what the real-life turnaround of a translation project might be and how to plan my time accordingly. An additional bonus at STB is that all of the PMs are also fully qualified translators, which means they have a good understanding of the projects they take on and are also able to complete linguistic work where necessary.

During my time, I was lucky enough to be involved in the agency’s outreach programme with Translation Team Leader Chloe, who allowed me to accompany her to talk to some local year 7 students about pursuing a future in languages. Language outreach has always been something that I have been interested in, so having the opportunity work with a company that shares this passion was a great experience.

Whilst this was certainly the most challenging part of my internship, I can confidently say that I learnt more about the translation industry in these first two weeks than in the whole year of my master’s degree.

Operations: Sales, Marketing and Resource Management

In the following two weeks, I spent some time away from the linguistic departments and focused more on the agency operations roles. ‘Variety’ would be the word I would use to describe these two weeks, with tasks ranging from writing a blog about the team’s Mental Health First Aid training with Ruth in the Compliance team, to learning how to register, manage and contract freelancers with the Resource Management (RM) team. Finally, I received sales and marketing training from Craig and Marya, which shed light on how to generate business and what kind of tasks are involved in this process. The broad exposure of these final weeks gave me a new perspective on the industry and showed me that there are many other roles in translation other than ‘translator’, which still require the same passion for language.

I would strongly recommend this internship experience for anyone who is looking to start their career in the translation industry. All of the questions that I had coming into this experience have been thoroughly answered, and I now feel that I have a well-rounded understanding of how to work in a thriving translation agency. To top everything off, I have loved every second of being here and have felt so welcomed and supported by the wonderful teams in each department. Every day has been an opportunity to learn skills that you can’t be taught at university, and to be able to do so in such a happy, comfortable environment has been a truly wonderful experience.

If you are interested in an internship with Surrey Translation Bureau, please find more details at https://stb.twsdev1.com/internships/. We look forward to hearing from you!

Hannah Perl