Hi, my name is Christina and I am currently an intern at Aktuel Translations. This blog entry will be about my experiences as an intern during Covid-19 and about what I’ve learnt from the internship.
Before I started my internship at Aktuel, I was studying “International Communication and Translation” with the languages English and Spanish at the University of Hildesheim in Germany. I started my studies after finishing my Abitur (A-levels) for one main reason: The idea of my future career included “something with languages”. And studying translation seemed to be the best solution for my very specific career plans.
During my studies I learnt a lot about translation, did quite a few translations, but I never really felt prepared to actually work as a translator. In university, we barely worked with translation tools and most of our translation class exams were written with the help of a paper dictionary, which doesn’t really represent the reality of translators.
So, I decided that it would be best to do an internship before starting my master studies. I already spent one semester in Seville in Spain, where I was able to not only improve my Spanish skills but also my cultural knowledge. This is why I wanted to go to the UK. I wanted to improve my English and get an insight into the British way of life. And to be honest, I also saw this as a great chance to spend a few months there before the Brexit transition period ends.
I began to look for internship vacancies and offers and applied to a few, one of them was Aktuel. Why did I apply for an internship at Aktuel? My main goal was to get an insight into the work of a translator, but most internship offers were for Translation Project Management where your tasks would include checking translations, but not actually doing them. At Aktuel you get the chance to do translations on your own, but you’re also able to try out other things like Project Management or Special Projects. This means that you get to have a further overview of the translation business.
After a small test and a phone interview, I was offered to stay at Aktuel as an intern for 6 weeks, which I gladly accepted. So, I packed my bags and went to Henley, just one month after I submitted my bachelor thesis.
The title of this blog already gives it away: I started my internship during a global pandemic. This might not have been one of the best ideas. Instead of spending 6 weeks at the Aktuel office in the UK, I spent a solid 6 days in the UK. When I arrived in Henley on a Saturday, the Covid-19 situation worsened rapidly, but I still hoped that it wouldn’t get too bad.
Monday was my first day at the office and I got introduced to everything and everyone. I even started to do my first translation and “learnt” to work with Trados. I put “learnt” here in quotation marks because as much as I would’ve liked to fully experience working in the office, my last day there was the following Wednesday, so I didn’t get the chance to work a lot with the translation tools (or in the office).
On Thursday I worked from my accommodation in Henley and on Friday – very surprisingly – I was flying back home to Germany, which was recommended to me by the German Embassy. Fortunately, I was able to continue the internship from Germany and even extend it.
The main task during my internship was the translation of legal documents and from time to time I did some proofreading of German translations. I was also given the opportunity to do special projects. In my case, I decided to do some literary translations because I wanted to do the opposite of the legal translations to get a wider overview of the different kinds of translations. During the special projects, I worked together with Mr. Bennett and learnt new things about the translation industry.
My favourite part of the internship was that I got to experience what a translator does on a daily basis. In university you talk a lot about it and even do some small translations, but you never get the full experience. In my case, I never did a legal translation before I started my internship, so it was very interesting for me to learn about the things you have to keep in mind.
The feedback from the proof-readers was very helpful, especially the comments about the specific terminology that should be used for a patent. If I’m being completely honest, my absolute favourite part of the internship were the special projects. As a book enthusiast it was really great to get the chance to translate various types of books and it was also a nice change to do something different from patents.
The internship definitely helped me find out what I would like to do in the future, I realised that I enjoy work that requires more creativity – even if it’s usually not paid that well.
So, if I had to decide now, if I were to do the internship at Aktuel again, I would definitely say yes. Yes, even during a global pandemic. Although this internship didn’t go as it was originally planned, I think that I’ve learnt a lot for my future career or rather about what I would like my future career to be.
Sadly, I didn’t learn too much about British culture because, well, as I already mentioned, I only spent 6 days in the UK. But I’m sure I will catch up on that sometime after Covid-19 is over – which is hopefully sooner rather than later. And working from home has one major advantage: You don’t have to dress up for work! And I can tell you, working in your favourite pair of sweatpants can be quite comfortable.