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Learning on the job

A chat with Lali Platt about her internship at Wessex Translations

At Wessex Translations we know the value of internship programmes in allowing the linguists of tomorrow to explore their career options, gain experience in the translation industry and receive professional feedback. We also hope they have fun getting to know the Wessex team and enjoy our lively office environment. Here we take a look at the experience of our most recent intern, Lali.

Lali Platt

Studied: University of Sheffield

Languages: English, Spanish, Russian, French, Catalan

Lali enthusiastically joined us in February for a six-month placement as part of our annual internship programme. Having recently completed an undergraduate degree in Russian and Spanish and a year in Moscow teaching English as a foreign language, she was a perfect fit for our team.

At Wessex, we like to give our interns a broad taste of what it’s like to work for a translation company and try to give them as many experiences as possible during their time with us. Lali’s role has included a mixture of language revision and project management duties, including an introduction to translation management software, glossaries, translation memories and communication with clients and suppliers. Lali was just settling into office life when the unexpected happened and we were put into lockdown due to the coronavirus, however we hope that she has still had a positive experience and a good taster of working in the translation industry!

We’ve loved having Lali on the team and as her six-month internship draws to a close this month, we wanted to ask her a few questions about what she has taken from the experience.

Lali, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background before you started your internship at Wessex?

Whilst I grew up in England, my mother is from Barcelona, so she and her family spoke to me in Catalan. Then after finishing French A-Level I went to France where I skipped down Parisian pavements with a girl I nannied. This was followed by a degree in Russian and Spanish at university, and then a fantastic year teaching in Moscow!

Wow! Can you tell us a bit about your experience of teaching in Moscow?

I arrived in Moscow without any previous teacher training, fortunately my showmanship as ‘Lali from England’ captivated the interests of the Russian students enough to enjoy learning English! I taught various schools from all age groups, and I had to think of creative lesson plans whilst following the school curriculum. I was keen to gain experience in translation in order to build on my language knowledge in a more professional environment after a string of largely verbal experiences abroad.

So is that what motivated you to apply for an internship at Wessex?

I’ve known about Wessex for many years as my father has used their services in the past and he remembered the open and friendly environment the employees worked in. The idea of juggling different languages whilst surrounding myself with like-minded enthusiasts excited me. I honestly don’t know where the next few years may take me, but for now, a future in translation where I can vary linguistic and technical skills each day seems very attractive.

Did you have any expectations when you started – did you know what working for a translation company might be like?

It wasn’t at all what I expected! At university, ‘translation’ went as far as being handed a piece of text, rendering it in another language, then handing it back… The reality is, the translation process requires a lot of communication between colleagues, clients and translators so that the end product is as faithful to the original and as fit for purpose as it can be. Had I stayed longer, I would have enjoyed finding my perfect role, whether that be in typesetting, project management or revision.

Any particular surprises?

There have been a couple of topics from translated texts that I would never have imagined reading – nothing as niche as Jonathan’s sense of humour though!

Jonathan’s sense of humour does tend to be something that interns never forget!

Now, as much as I would like to avoid mentioning the coronavirus pandemic, unfortunately it had quite a big effect on your experience, as we moved to homeworking about a month into your six-month internship! Can you tell me a bit about how this affected your time with us?

At first, when I was working at home on my own, I was extremely cautious in case I did something wrong, but thankfully my colleagues have been reassuring and patient with any queries. I think everyone was slightly daunted by the prospect of having to work from home, fortunately we adapted but I’m sure the team is looking forward to working under one roof again soon. And of course, I’ve missed colleagues coming to the snack table beside my desk; it feels greedier when you’re gobbling your 4th Jaffa Cake by yourself.

It doesn’t stop me!

Homeworking is definitely a hot topic in the business world at the moment. In a way you have been lucky to get a quick taste of both worlds (home working has been new to many of us!) As a newcomer to the office environment, do you have any thoughts about homeworking compared to working in the office?

It’s true that you can get jobs done at home just as if you were in an office, however in hindsight, for me it was important to experience working in the office in order to grasp Wessex’s ethos, values and priorities so that I could maintain that same standard at home. During the first month in the office, I would hear colleagues discussing various linguistic or managerial points which gave me an idea of the entire process of a project and what kind of thing to query when revising texts.

Good point – there are some things that are picked up in the office in more of an organic way, which could be missed when working from home, no matter how much remote support you receive.

Were there any aspects of the job that you particularly enjoyed?

This might be a reflection on my life in lockdown but I enjoyed the feeling of revising a piece of text and spotting an error of some kind and getting in touch with experienced translators to run through any queries.

Interestingly, that’s something I still find to be one of the most satisfying parts of working in the language industry! It’s rewarding to know you’re making a positive contribution to the quality of a translation.

Where are you headed to next?

I am hoping to continue working in translation, hopefully focussing on my Russian skills. I’ll carry the things I’ve learnt with me at Wessex, as well as replicate the dedication you all have to this industry when I find work in London.

That’s great to hear! We wish you all the very best for the future and can’t wait to hear what you get up to!

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