There’s an interesting article in today’s FT about Transperfect, the biggest privately owned translation company in the US and the third biggest in the sector. I have a friend who worked for them inhouse, and know several others who’ve worked for them freelance.
I think Transperfect is unusual in that it’s such a big player in a sector which tends to be dominated by smaller entities. I love hearing how translation companies were started, and especially about the backgrounds of the founders. This article does not disappoint and is well worth a read.
Now, if I were a newcomer to the profession, I’d see this article as a great excuse to contact the company and perhaps see whether they were interested in adding me to their list of suppliers. However, as a slighty more established translator with a hefty 4 years (or so!) of experience under my belt, I’m a bit more cautious and always follow these words of advice before signing up with a new work provider:
ALWAYS check a potential client out with fellow translators BEFORE taking on a job with them (this includes test translations).
You can do this via personal contacts or even better, through the well established payment practice groups that are out there. These usually require you to sign up for membership, but are well worth the hassle. Chances are someone will have worked for them before. If they haven’t, take the view that “no news is good news”and proceed with caution – assuming you’re not ignoring any glaringly obvious warning signs, of course.
So why is this necessary? Ask yourself if you can afford NOT to be paid for this job and it becomes clear. I’ve spoken before about how it can be tempting to take every job that comes your way, and this is yet another reason to be choosy. Industry payment terms already leave little room for maneouvre and are stacked against the freelancer. Payment in 30 days net is pretty standard, and means you may not get paid for up to 2 months following the date you invoice for your work. Even the slightest delay or hiccup can severely affect your cash flow, especially in the early days… Trust me, there are plenty of more enjoyable ways to get translation experience.