As soon as you begin to pursue a dream, your life wakes up and everything has meaning.
— Barbara Sher
Some people know what-they-want-to-be-when-they-grow-up shortly after they come out of the womb. For others, it’s a slow realization, and by the time they leave high school, they are on their way to realizing their dream career. Some, unsure, ponder the options and might change careers and jobs until they find their true calling. And then, there is me who thought I never really had a “calling,” until now that is.
After working thirty years as an accountant in the Oil and Gas industry in Calgary, I found myself without a job. The company I was working for was going through tremendous financial difficulties due to the recessive economy and—like many other companies—laid off many of its employees including myself. I loved my job, and it was great while it lasted, but I knew it was not my true calling
I was envious of people who had a dream and followed it! I never had a vision for myself. But I always loved languages, reading, and writing. After losing my job, I decided to start a blog, something I wanted to do for a long time. My first articles were in English; later on, to reach a broader audience, I decided to start translating them into Spanish—my mother tongue. One day, as I was happily pounding my keyboard while working on my translations, the idea of becoming a Translator hit me on the head like an awakening brick! At that moment I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up! I knew what my calling was!
I had no idea how to go about, but I was entrepreneurial and put an add on Kijiji advertising my services. Shortly, I received a call from a potential customer, after a few interactions she asked me if I was “Certified.” I did not get the business since I wasn’t a Certified Translator, but it opened the door to the exciting world of Translators and Interpreters. I started looking into it, and I found ATIA (Association of Translators and Interpreters of Alberta).
Since finding ATIA, I’ve been right on track with their program. I’ve attended every workshop ATIA has put on so far, and I’m preparing for the first two exams you must pass—Code of Ethics and English Comprehension. ATIA has welcomed me with open arms, and every member I have met so far has been warm, friendly, and talented!
The Translation and Interpreters industry is booming with the prediction that demand for their services will increase fifty percent by the year 2020; this is excellent news for people starting like me as well as for established translators and interpreters.
Can just anyone who speaks more than one language become a Translator? Not necessarily. To become a translator, you need to be familiar with the culture behind the languages you will be working on. You need to be extremely motivated and have the ability to work independently since most translators and interpreters are freelancers. You need to have excellent writing and reading skills. You also need to be very proactive in promoting your services and finding clients.
Strangely and whimsically, I realize now that I have been preparing for this my whole life. I’ve made a point throughout the years to be fluent in Spanish and English by speaking, reading and writing in both languages. Being at a “certain age,” while some people are thinking of planning on retiring, I’m excited and feel renewed at the opportunity of a new career!
Paulina Ponsford was born in Chile and has lived most of her adult life in Canada. She worked as an Accountant for thirty years in the Oil and Gas industry in Calgary. At the same time, she always wanted to connect with people at a different level and for this reason, she became a volunteer Fitness Instructor and later on a Certified Facilitator in the area of human interaction. Paulina is now preparing to become a Translator and Interpreter in the languages of English and Spanish. Paulina also loves to travel and embraces what different cultures have to offer. She is also an avid reader and some of her favorite authors are Paulo Coelho, Khaled Hosseini, Mark Mustian, and Isabel Allende. If you would like to know more about Paulina, check out her blog at www.paulinaponsford.com where she shares some of her thoughts, insights, and experiences.