From Corporate Training to Translation: Learner Uses SCS Certificate to Launch a New Career

From Corporate Training to Translation: Learner Uses SCS Certificate to Launch a New Career

Letters

“One of the best things about translating is that you get to read about a lot of different topics. As someone who is a lifelong learner, I find that very rewarding.” – Kara Stelfox, SCS learner 

It was early in the days of the pandemic when Kara Stelfox began dreaming about a career change. She was working as a corporate trainer, and also freelancing as a consultant working with athletes on mental skills in sport. 

While her resumé and educational background in kinesiology might not have made for a linear path to becoming a translator, she had attended French immersion schools for 13 years, and languages had been her hobby ever since. 

“I suppose I’m a confirmed language nerd, and my French had been lurking in the background, waiting to leap back into the spotlight! Furthermore, having first studied in other areas besides translation gives me a lot of subject matter expertise I wouldn’t otherwise have had, so I see the quirkiness of my path as an advantage,” she says. 

The online format of the School of Continuing Studies translation courses allowed Kara to continue her freelance business as she studied, and the small class size made it easy for her to get to know classmates, who she is still in touch with after completing the program.  

Kara says that there were opportunities to put her skills to the test right from the first course in the Translation: French to English certificate.

“Our instructor, Pamela Lipson, got us translating relevant, real-world materials early on so that we could test the translation techniques we were reading about. We experienced a variety of source texts from diverse sources such as press releases, codes of ethics, marketing, speeches, and more,” she shares. 

“The diversity of the texts we were exposed to helped set the stage for understanding our strengths, building our knowledge, and preparing for the world of translation outside the classroom.”

Kara quickly discovered that she loved the puzzle of translating the meaning of one language to another as well as the variety of subject matter involved. 

“It’s always different and mentally stimulating. Although I have favourite topics to translate, one of the best things about translating is that you get to read about a lot of different topics. As someone who is a lifelong learner, I find that very rewarding,” she explains. 

Despite quickly realizing she was on the right path once she got going, Kara says she did have some reservations before starting the translation certificate. For one, she wondered whether her love of language learning would mean she would enjoy translating. 

“Will I be any good at it? What jobs should I apply to once I finish? Should I go freelance or try to work for an agency? You get the picture,” she adds. “However, to quote Winnie the Pooh from The Little Things, a charming book for children (and adults!): ‘Questioning yourself can be good. Doubting yourself rarely is.’ Fears and concerns can spur us to learn and prepare, which helps us succeed, but they should not be allowed to run the show.”

When the time came to apply for translation work, Kara went back to her instructor Pamela for advice on job applications and interviews in the translation industry. With her help, and armed with her new translation skills, Kara was able to secure her first, full-time position as a translator with a Quebec-based firm just a few months after completing her translation certificate. 

For anyone else looking to launch their career in translation, Kara has plenty of sound advice.  

“Learn ravenously and continuously. Use the SCS certificate as a wonderful jumping-off point for even more learning about translation and the language industry. Take translation-related webinars and short courses that complement what you’re learning in the SCS courses. Sign up for newsletters and blogs related to translation topics you want to know more about! Ask questions, both during and outside of class, to maximize your learning,” she says. 

“We learn by engaging, not by osmosis. Finally, leverage your peers in the SCS program – they and your translation instructor are your first translation network!”

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