Personal interview – Martine Elseth

Martine Elseth

Martine Elseth

Hi Martine, where are you from and how many languages do you speak?

I’m from the southeast of Norway and speak mainly Norwegian and English. However, I am practicing Spanish and Korean.

What have you studied so far?

I have a bachelor’s degree in Translation and Intercultural Communication and have gone through two internships including this mentorship with Jensen Loc. In high school, I did the IB Diploma with high-level Social and Cultural Anthropology, Norwegian A and English A Lang. and Lit.

What motivated you to become a translator? Did you know anything about this profession before your studies?

From a young age, I was always very interested in languages. I considered it more of an interest and did not know how to make a living out of it without being a teacher, which I don’t think I have the patience for. So, I had applied for a master’s in Archaeology at Cardiff University and already got accepted when I suddenly discovered Translation while looking at left-over spots in the university my best friend was going to and changed my choices completely. It sounded perfect for me and was only two and a half hours away from home. That was four years ago, and now I am happily working as a freelance translator.

Have you run any kind of internship program before this mentoring one at Jensen?

As mentioned, I did an internship in the second year of my degree for one term (4 months + exam) with a local Norwegian company called Textera. There I did both translation, marketing and managing, which gave me a great introduction to the business that you don’t get in university, and that is also how I got into contact with Jensen Loc!

Was it really challenging to become a freelancer in your case?

Because I was dedicated to and engaged in learning while doing my first internship, I was able to get started in the industry ahead of most of my class. The most challenging part about being a freelancer for me is learning how to communicate well over the internet and keeping up with e-mails, documents, links and so on. I can be very anxious and am still learning to communicate shortly and clearly, as well as reach out for help as soon as possible when an issue arises.

In your opinion, what are the main advantages of running some kind of training program before or just after becoming a freelancer?

I think everyone understands the benefit of learning in practice instead of in a classroom, but I would like to put emphasis on the communication part. When you’re in a training program with a company, you can experience this part hands-on. Instead of asking your teacher for a little help and an extension on a hand-in, you have jobs at risk and deadlines to meet with clients who have their own expectations as well. I remember complaining during my first year in university because our two translation teachers had such different expectations for our tasks, and the response I got was basically: That’s life as a translator. They were right. And when you are doing a program instead of facing it on your own, it is easier to learn from your mistakes as you can be guided through solving them by someone with experience. Working a training program also makes learning CAT tools much easier, as they can be quite tricky and looking around for specific functions or reading articles with instructions can take time. Time is money. Hehe. Also, there are so many different job types in this industry and understanding them sooner rather than later is beneficial and easier when you’re not on your own. Always be clear on what is expected of you and also understand what your time is worth.

What is the kind of project or area of expertise you feel more comfortable with when translating?

When I started working freelance for Jensen, I got thrown into the area of medical translation with no other experience than almost failing my biology exam in high school. I did my best to learn from all the reviews I received, and now I am very comfortable with the majority of my jobs being medically related. I also did some jobs related to security courses/teaching where I review courses and have to back up my corrections. The reason I like those is that I enjoy using my degree and metalanguage.

Any preferred CAT tool?

Memsource has a special place in my heart as it was the first one I learned to use and it is very simple and intuitive on the translator’s side. I used to hate Trados Studio with a passion, but it is actually growing on me. Otherwise, XTM is always reliable.

You have participated in some machine translation post-editing projects so far, do you think the machine translation will completely substitute human translation in the future?

I always say no very quickly and my answer is still no, but… it’s scarily good. There will always be a need for cultural understanding within many areas, but for documents like instructions and other more documentary translations, machine translation is very efficient.

Finally, could you please provide some good advice to those students who are currently running some kind of translation studies degree and would like to start searching for job opportunities?

I think the most ideal solution is to have one or two clients/agencies who you work with consistently. You can put yourself out there on sites like LinkedIn or for singular jobs, but try contacting agencies with a good CV and work hard to become a translator they want to keep working with. Hand in on time, communicate well and deliver good work. Or at least show improvement.

Good luck! 🙂

Communication, Culture, Events, Funny Stories, Interviews, Jensen Localization, University

Leave a Reply