Translator as a job

Translator as a job – written by Jenny Park, PhD

I am a college Poli Sci professor and started translation as a side job because there was so much demand for my Korean to English translation.  My first job was from Alabama Power Company who wanted me to translate a brochure from English into Korean.  At that time I was a Professor of International Relations at Emory University, and they couldn’t find a Korean translator, so they asked Korean Community Center.  I had signed up at the local Korean Community Center as volunteers to help Korean people who don’t speak English.  The KCC contacted me to do the job, and I did it with pleasure in two hours.  I was going to do it for free, but they paid me $80 an hour…this was about 27 years ago….

Then I went back to Korea, where I got married and stayed for 10 years as college professor.  I volunteered to interprete Korean sermons to English for foreign visitors to Youido Full Gospel Church, the mega church with 500,000 members.

One day I interpeted for an American professor, and people started asking me for all kinds of translation and interpreting… newsletters, journals, speeches… I was writing speeches for Ministers of Korean government…

The university that I was teaching International Relations had about 40 foreign students, and the school asked me to simultaneously interpret Korean sermons into English every Thursday.  And I enjoyed translation and interpretation so much that it became a full time job and my college teaching was like my side job in terms of the time I spent.

When I went back to the U.S. to raise my kids there, I became a State of California court certified interpreter and started my own school teaching translation and interpretation.  My translation company was doing so well it was growing 50% every year even during economic recession.  So I am a full time translator and interpreter now.  How do I like my job as translator?

I love it.  I think it is the best job that benefits from the most recent technological developments.

First, I enjoy the freedom it brings to my life.  No pressure, no boss, no competitors, and financial stability.

Thanks to the technological development, I can sit in my most comfortable chair, watching my favorite show, and communicate with my employees and colleagues online.  Microsoft Word is such a great tool, compared to when I first started translating.  At first I wrote down on a paper, and typed on Smith Corona which made so much noise and hurt my fingers.  Printing took such a long time all night, and I had to tear off those dotted sides as well as each page.

But now, we have Microsoft.  We have laser printer.  My project managers receive an assignment from Israel by email and click it off to my translator in Korea, and click off the translation to a proofreader in Germany.  No shipping, no warehouse, no custom, no hassle like in other trading businesses.  It takes much shorter time to do translation thanks to the help of many softwares such as Trados and Nuance pdf converter.  Online dictionaries are great.  And I love how much I learn about other fields, how my vocabulrary is increasing, and how fast and accurate I can get.  Translation is so much fun like a puzzle game and brings pleasure to my heart.

You do what you like, and what you are good in.  Isn’t that the greatest job?  This is the greatest time in human history to be a translator.