August 27, 2015
On an average day at Technicis, the translation agency in whose Corporate branch I interned for nearly three months this summer in Paris, I was seated at my desk by ten o’clock in the morning. By my lunch break at one o’clock, I had likely sent and received dozens of emails, spoken on the phone with at least one project manager for clarifications about a translation, answered a French colleague’s question about English, asked her a question in return, troubleshot a problem with the translation software, turned in four or five translations I had revised or a couple translations of my own, and touched on as many subjects as documents. By six o’clock, when I (usually) left, all of that was doubled. Needless to say, it was a busy summer.
This busyness, and the stress that came with the deadlines that fell nearly every hour was the first thing that struck me about the internship. But after the initial few weeks of adjustment, I realized that by plunging right in, I already felt caught up in the thick of company culture, able to understand and begin to use the particular jargon with colleagues, mixing mixed French, a few words of English, and computer-related abbreviations. And more importantly, using the most common features of the translation and scheduling software for translating and revising at the agency had become second nature. I was picking up errors more easily when revising, becoming more comfortable with translations with time limits, recognizing and assimilating buzzwords used by many clients, and receiving feedback which allowed me to avoid common translation pitfalls.
Of course, much of my immersive experience over the summer also took place outside the Technicis office building. From speaking uniquely in French with my roommates (MIIS students doing the same internship) and francophone friends to going to the bank, the library, the movies and the market, I was surrounded by French language and culture at nearly every moment of the day. The multitudes of new words, cultural references, and ideas that I was exposed to at Technicis were reinforced in everyday life. “Oh, I just did a translation on that!” was perhaps the most spoken sentence at our apartment.
The whirlwind of revising and translating for a short three months did not allow me to become a real expert in any one category, but I worked with texts covering wind energy, cheese manufacturing, men’s fashion, satellite television, medications, airport operations, and dozens of other subjects. It was a wonderful opportunity to broaden and deepen my culture générale, a sort of frame of reference that covers everything from famous singers to basic scientific concepts. Having reinforced this framework, I’ll be a little more prepared this semester as we delve into more complex and technical subjects in my interpretation and translation classes. With more reference points serving as a sort of index, I’ll be able to work better with my classmates to find the information we need. And for my classes working into French, I’ll have a more solid linguistic base from which to work as well. Finally, after noticing common themes in texts by clients across different sectors, especially a focus on sustainability, I am considering choosing green energy as a specialization in my translation and interpretation career.