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LKT welcomes its first intern

Matthew Shaw, LK TranslationsTransitioning from study to work: it is, as the Germans say, gewöhnungsbedürftig! Fortunately, as an MA student at in Translation at Lancaster University, I had the chance to gain hands-on experience and was thrilled to be offered a 10-week internship with LK Translations. Its main working language – German – gave me the chance to put my language skills to good use, while its areas of specialism in technical subjects presented a new challenge. With the company certified to ISO 17100:2015, I knew I was in safe hands and couldn’t wait to get started.

Years of language studies do not necessarily mean that newcomers are ready for the real world of translation. It is reassuring to know that companies like LKT recognise the need for them to gain a foothold in the industry. I have found the steep learning curve invaluable, since it is only in a professional context that it becomes clear how the theories of translation can be applied. Training was thorough and I had to gain a quick grasp of the initially overwhelming supply of information I was given. I continue to benefit from insightful conversations with colleagues offering their general know-how. For example, I have been greatly interested to discover the many advantages of membership to professional bodies such as the ITI, and how managing your own projects makes you more accountable as well as providing an outward-looking perspective on your work.

My training started with revision tasks, and from there I progressed to translation with some trepidation! I found that good research skills are essential when dealing with complex instruction manuals for household appliances, for example. As a perfectionist, I enjoy pondering the various solutions to a problem – but working to strict deadlines has helped me to speed up my mental processes. I have also learned the value of final checks as well as consistency in terminology and style, as well as becoming acquainted with the technology side of translation. I am now certified in using SDL Trados Studio, an industry standard for computer-assisted translation tools, and have learned how to use Across software efficiently despite no previous knowledge of it.

In feedback sessions, I have had many opportunities to discuss my progress on the basis of both in-house and customer-specific guidelines. I have enjoyed being challenged on my decisions and invited to look at them critically at each stage. It is here that it becomes especially clear to newcomers why translation is not simply a case of replacing a German word with its English equivalent. To take two examples, rendering ein gutes Produkt as a “good” product would not be a very effective marketing slogan, and calling a service competent would underplay the intended meaning of kompetent (implying high-level expertise).

Having accepted a permanent position with the company, I am really looking forward to becoming a trainee translator in July 2017. The internship was neatly interwoven into my postgraduate studies, and I am sure that this will make for a smooth transition when I start as a member of the team. The experience has boosted my confidence in my abilities – when complex technical and commercial texts no longer appear daunting, you can tackle anything! I feel extremely satisfied with the knowledge I have gained and am taking all that is to come in my stride. As I sit at my desk, frantically typing and trying to commit time-saving keyboard shortcuts to muscle-memory, I realise that balancing quantity and quality is no mean feat, but gaining more experience will help me hone the skills that are necessary in a team of language professionals.