Interview with an Expert: Translation Program Student to Translation Project Manager

This quarter we have the pleasure of sharing more with you about one of our Project Managers here at Accessible Translation Solutions (ATS). Stephanie Lockman joined the ATS team in the summer of 2013 for an internship from the UofL Translation Program, and she was so good at her job that we asked her to join the team more permanently! If you are a translator and have been considering tackling a translation program or certificate, you might find Stephanie's insights very useful. If you are a client and wish to understand more about how many of our translators are trained, feel free to read the spotlight on Stephanie. STEPHANIE LOCKMAN brings five years of program management experience from her work at ACCENT Marketing to ATS. Stephanie holds a Bachelor's degree in Spanish and a Bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of Louisville (UofL). She also recently obtained her Master’s degree in Spanish from UofL and is currently finishing her Graduate Certificate in Translation. Stephanie has traveled outside of the United States several times to help continue her education as well.

Q: Describe your translation certificate program experience at UofL (number of courses, areas of specializations, if any, etc.).

A: The University of Louisville’s Graduate Certificate in Translation is part of the Department of Classical and Modern Languages at UofL. It is still a new program, only implemented in the last two years, so for now, it is only available for students who are proficient in both English and Spanish. The core courses are delivered in Spanish, since that is where there is the highest need and interest at this time. However, in the future, the department would like to expand the certificate to include multiple languages.

As a requirement, all students take a minimum of 21 credit hours to receive the certificate, focusing on comparative grammar, professional writing skills, culture, translation history and theory, literary translation, computer tools and terminology management.  All students take certain core courses, including courses about using computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools and managing translation projects, but the program allows the student the opportunity to select different courses with areas of specialization that may interest him or her most. I took, for example, a course that specialized in the translation of legal texts, but there will be others who take courses specializing in medical and literary translations in the coming semesters as well. To finish the certificate, students are required to complete an internship or directed study. This experience helps ensure the student is prepared to enter the workforce in a particular field, if desired.

Q: What prepared you most to be able to handle this experience?

A: I have received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Spanish from the University of Louisville (UofL), so my transition into the translation certificate program was relatively seamless. I was finishing my graduate courses at the time the translation program was introduced, allowing me to expand upon my desire to develop my translation skills. UofL’s Spanish M.A. program offers introductory classes for translation, allowing students to decide for themselves which areas of specialization, if any, are most appealing. This gives the student the ability to choose which courses to take for the translation certificate. The faculty involved with the translation certificate is very involved in the lives and interests of their students, which is also a huge help when it comes to ensuring you’re going down the right path in the program.

Q: What did you learn from this experience that might help others who are considering a certificate or program in translation?

A: My advice would definitely be to keep an open mind when taking courses, and take some that will make you very well-rounded by the time you graduate, because you never know what you’ll find works best for you. When I began taking classes, I was sure that I wanted to translate and only translate when I graduated. I was also sure I would be 100% prepared to begin that work once I had completed my studies. One of the classes I thought would be least beneficial for me was the Project Management course. I thought I would learn a bit about the industry itself, but was a little let down we would be focusing on that aspect of the business instead of the actual translation. Little did I know, that would be the course that prepared me most for life after school, and one of the classes I enjoyed the most as well. I found that I could apply the skills I had from my work-related experience as a manager to the translation industry, and use them to excel in an area of the industry I hadn’t previously thought about. It was like a light bulb had gone off for me: this certificate was preparing me for multiple work scenarios, not just developing my translation skills (though it was doing that, too!).

Q: What was the most rewarding part of your experience?

A: In our first advanced translation course, we translated paperwork for The Center for Women and Families in the Louisville area. This organization provides support for survivors of intimate partner abuse or sexual violence. Their paperwork was already available in English, but because so many of their clients spoke Spanish, they reached out to UofL’s translation department to see if we would be available to translate it into Spanish for them. With the help of a faculty advisor, we each worked on sections of the paperwork until it was ready for publication. Knowing that the work we did together makes it easier for these individuals to overcome abuse and violence is definitely a rewarding feeling and an experience I cannot trade.

Q: How do you feel the certificate program has prepared you to work in the translation industry?

A: This program is very well-rounded. I knew going in that I would take courses to help develop my actual translation skills. For example, I took a course to really hone in on legal translation and also had the opportunity to attend a workshop for legal translation led by an expert in the field. The program also offers a course covering computer-assisted translation, which helped me learn about the tools I could use to become a more and more efficient translator. These classes were very hands-on and helped develop the skills I needed to enter the translation industry.

I also got a lot of experience in areas I never even planned. I took a Project Management course that helped develop skills I already had outside of the Spanish program. I have been in a managerial role for several years and this course helped me apply the skills I already had from that experience to the work you see in the translation industry as well. It was very eye-opening for me, allowing me to see that there are other aspects of the business I may enjoy and excel at should I wish to continue pursuing them.

The required internship provided the most hands-on experience to help prepare me for work in the translation industry, however. I used the information learned in the Project Management course to work over the summer interning for Accessible Translation Solutions (ATS) as an actual project manager. It gave me real experience in the industry itself, and gave me an insider’s view to what a company looks for in a translator and how the ins and outs of the process work. I was very glad to be able to continue working for ATS as a project manager, even after the internship had ended.