Category Archives: Career

Translator civil servant

It appears that even a translator can be a civil servant in Germany. Here are just 2 in-house, German-English translator positions available now:

In-house translator position available at the Federal Ministry of Finance in Berlin.  Read the full job description on their website.

In-house translator position available at the Federal Office of Justice in Bonn. Read the full job description here.

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Freelancers and upper management

Most freelancers value the freedom to set their own hours. Finding time to run errands, exercise or travel are things that employees complain about more so than freelancers. But those in the know, know that freelancers work more than most. In fact, the Berliner Morgenpost recently reported that upper management and freelancers work more overtime in Germany than any other groups. Though 48 hours is the absolute maximum that an employee can work per week by law in Germany, some still put in more than 60 hours per week. Again, the majority of those people belong to upper management or are freelancers.

Germany has laws in place to protect employees and workers from abuse, but I am prone to ask myself just how many freelancers abide by those laws. Freelancers do not have bosses leaning over them, ensuring that they follow the rules. As a result, it is not uncommon for freelancers to work 8 hours at a time without a break, whilst it would be illegal for an employer to expect anything of the kind from an employee.

Freelancers may be interested in knowing that employees in Germany are not allowed to work more than 8 hours a day.  All workers are required to take at least a 30-minute break after working 6 hours. And at the end of the work day, employees must have 11 hours of uninterrupted rest time.

Freelancers may want to read Germany’s complete working hours law here (in German).

Translators officially recognized as artists

Reading Corinne McKay’s blog today about “Providing your own benefits” as a freelancer reminded me of an opportunity available to freelancers in Germany. It is called the “Künstler Sozialkasse.” It is a benefits office which will assume the portion of a freelancer’s benefits that would normally be covered by an employee’s company, including health insurance, retirement insurance contributions and more. The Künstler Sozialkasse is determined to help artists (Künstler) achieve a high-quality of life and to prevent them from losing up to 50% of their income for the payment of benefits.

The good news is that the Künstler Sozialkasse has recently officially recognized translators as artists, which means that freelance translators living and working in Germany are welcome to apply. The application process can be intense but it is well worth the trouble. Membership is free, but it is necessary to prove that you actually are an artist (translator). To prevent part-timers, moonlighters or wannabes from taking full advantage, the Künstler Sozialkasse requires applicants to prove that they make their living from their art (translating) by submitting copies of invoices, recommendations from clients and more.

All of the information along with the application material is available (in German) from their website.

German govt. now hiring

If you are not sure about working as an in-house translator, a temporary position could be a great way to test the waters. The German Federal Ministry of Justice in Berlin is now hiring an in-house German-English translator to fill in for someone on paternal leave. The job is available as of December 2010 and would last for a maximum of 2 years.

Applications are being accepted until September 15, 2010. For the full job description (in German), visit their website.

Help Wanted: Translators!

In-house translation is not dead. Unemployment rates may be high but translators are still in high demand. Here are just a few in-house German-English translator positions currently available in Europe:

Transline is looking for a full-time German-English translator to work on-site in Wolfsburg, Germany for one of their clients. The translator should be a native English speaker with translation experience. The job also involves a fair amount of proofreading. You will find the full job description and contact details (in German) here.

The German Bundesbank is in need of German-English translators at their office location in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Translators are responsible for financial and legal texts. You’ll find the full job description (in German) here.

The European Commission has announced a competition for linguists including German-English translators for July 2010. They do not hire translators regularly and some people wait their whole lives for the opportunity to apply, so competition is fierce. The application process is a competition and includes several hurdles the most important of which is the translation test. The translation jobs at the European Commission are open to citizens of the European Union only. Check their website regularly for the most up-to-date information.

My promotion

My freelance career has been put on hold while I test the waters in-house. I’ve traded my home office for a one-hour commute, my bedroom slippers for a door with my name on it, my one-woman show for a company of 50,000+ employees.

I work in a translation department with a staff of 20. They are 20 people who share a love of language and a dedication to the craft of translation. It is the other 48,880 employees who worry me.

I met a manager from the logistics department. When I told him I was a translator, he said “that’s okay. You have to start somewhere right?” … He assured me that I would be promoted soon enough.

Most of the employees at the company change job titles and departments every few years. It is a phenomenon that stretches across all divisions and departments with the exception of one. The translation department. Most of the employed translators have been at it for decades.

I told my logistics manager that I am a translator by choice. That it is my pride and joy. Though I fear the message did not get through. I fear that he has already made up his mind- probably convinced that as a foreigner living in Germany, I wouldn’t have too many options, and working as a translator was probably the only job I could get.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I hope never to be a manager in logistics.

in-house distractions

As you may have heard….I am now “in-house” – not to be confused with “at home.” I used to translate from my home office in my pajamas, and now I make myself presentable every morning to sit in my in-house office. It is a new lifestyle for me and just may be my biggest adventure yet.

On my first day at my in-house office, it was no surprise that Facebook, twitter, MySpace and the like were blocked on the computers. There shall be no distractions for service providers working in-house regardless of what the freelancers are doing at home.

Though I am no longer able to keep my peeps updated with status updates and tweets during the working day, I certainly do not find myself free from distractions. My distractions have taken on a new form but certainly have not been eliminated in-house. Anyone can and usually does waltz into my in-house office whether for work or more likely for play; making a tea in the kitchenette usually takes at least 30 minutes since I get to chatting with the other non-twittering staff. Then, of course, there is the cake party. Just about every week there is a birthday, a farewell or welcoming cake-party, and don’t even think about not showing up for the cake party.

Though corporations may try to keep us from our own social distractions that we know so well at home, even in-house there is no escape from the instinctual human desire for social contact – though now it will just have to be the old-fashioned variant.

My Biggest Adventure Yet

You haven’t heard from me in a long while because I am at the start of something new…

Everyday I find more and more encouraging and inspirational blogs about breaking free of the full-time, 9-5 routine and making the leap into a freelance life. Not nearly as common is the story of a freelancer who gives it all up to go work for a corporation.

A few months ago, I was offered an in-house translation job at one of Germany’s largest corporations. The job comes complete with a one-hour commute, an office with a view of a brick wall and my very own corporate ID.

I have been a freelancer all my life…until now. I have always been my own boss, always worked evenings, weekends and holidays. This new full-time job means more than a major lifestyle change for me; I see it as a learning experience and perhaps my biggest adventure of all.

I have always been happy and content in my freelance, nonconformist lifestyle, which is why I did not go looking for this job, but rather it found me. It is a 15-month position, so at the end of my contract, I may just appreciate my freelance lifestyle more than ever.

I am looking forward to a year of letting someone else run the show. It is one more opportunity, one more new experience. I am not one to pass up new experiences or opportunities so I accepted the job.

Let the adventure begin!

It’s Translation Day – be proud!

I will never forget the life lesson a friend taught me in college since it helped me choose a career and become what I am today, a translator. When faced with a dilemma, conflicting opportunities or a difficult life decision, then the question is not which one will bring me fame or fortune, or which one does my society consider most respectable. No, the question to ask yourself is which will I be most proud of? By that I do not mean how to impress other people but rather how to impress yourself.

Though most translators agree that they do not get the recognition or credit they deserve, the world has grown to rely heavily on translators. Most importantly we know the credit that we deserve. And far more important than any praise from a client (nevermind a thank you) or respect in the professional world (or the creative world for that matter), paramount to all else, is our own pride in our own work.

If you are a translator and not proud of that fact, then you may be in the wrong profession. On this International Translation Day I am proud to say I am a translator.

Happy International Translation Day! In 1991 the International Federation of Translators (FIT) decided to reserved this day, September 30, to celebrate the art of translation and to encourage translators to show pride in their profession. For more information visit the FIT website: www.fit-ift.org/en/home.php.

It's Translation Day – be proud!

I will never forget the life lesson a friend taught me in college since it helped me choose a career and become what I am today, a translator. When faced with a dilemma, conflicting opportunities or a difficult life decision, then the question is not which one will bring me fame or fortune, or which one does my society consider most respectable. No, the question to ask yourself is which will I be most proud of? By that I do not mean how to impress other people but rather how to impress yourself.

Though most translators agree that they do not get the recognition or credit they deserve, the world has grown to rely heavily on translators. Most importantly we know the credit that we deserve. And far more important than any praise from a client (nevermind a thank you) or respect in the professional world (or the creative world for that matter), paramount to all else, is our own pride in our own work.

If you are a translator and not proud of that fact, then you may be in the wrong profession. On this International Translation Day I am proud to say I am a translator.

Happy International Translation Day! In 1991 the International Federation of Translators (FIT) decided to reserved this day, September 30, to celebrate the art of translation and to encourage translators to show pride in their profession. For more information visit the FIT website: www.fit-ift.org/en/home.php.