Partners in translation: why you need a translation buddy¬ and how to find one

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Even though you might love flying solo, you need a flock of like-minded translators to support you through your journey. Forming strong professional bonds is an investment in your growth. Not only that, a safe space where you can be frank about your struggles and successes is beneficial for your mental health and can lead to a greater job satisfaction.

And every flock begins with one bird, one reliable translation buddy you entrust with sharing your path. Just like any successful partnership hinges on respect and shared values, a strong professional union is grounded in honesty and compatibility. While it’s easy to fall victim to the fiercely competitive job market dominated by the individual rather than the collective, a work confidante you respect, get along with, and can trust with work projects can accelerate your success and improve well-being.

Here’s why every translator needs a buddy, and how you can find one:

1. Because you will need a change at some point.

Your freelance translation business might be at its nascency, or you might be handling your full-time workload with ease. Chances are, your client base will keep expanding as you get established in your field. With economic volatility, unforeseen shifts in translation trends, and your ever-evolving values and priorities, a professional safety net can provide the much needed sense of security and internal peace. No matter where you see yourself in five years—at the helm of a global translation firm, supporting a few select clients, or exploring a completely new territory—you will need a trusted partner to help you navigate change.  

2. Two minds are better than one. Imagine if you could tackle many of your translation hurdles with a reliable partner. Or have a trusted buddy to offer advice and a fresh set of eyes to review your work. In a creative, often monotonous field such as translation, you almost can’t do without an outside perspective to get out of translator’s blocks.

4. Learning from others is just as valuable (if not more) as reading professional development books. Experience and failure, when shared with others, can offer just as much insight into the profession as workshops and textbooks. If you find someone you can open up to without any fears of being judged, they can help you overcome from any career impasses.

5. Do it for your social and mental well-being. Translation can be an isolating profession, especially if you work from home with little to no contact with the outside world. Even if you hold an office job, most likely you spend your days communicating with a computer rather than humans. Forming strong relationships with a work partner will enhance your feeling of connection and belonging.

6. You will learn to work in a team environment. Collaboration and team work are currently in high demand in the workplace. As translators, we are often surrounded by professionals who have a very vague idea of how we operate. In many cases, you might be the sole translator on a team. Working with a buddy might help brush up your team work and project management skills.

One of the best ways to form a trusting and lasting professional partnership is by investing your time and effort into finding your people. Many diverse people co-exist under the unifying umbrella of translation and interpreting—by attending as many professional development events, conferences, and workshops, you will increase your chances of finding a true translation buddy.