Transforming Your Career A Leap of Faith

Greater than 3 minutes, my friend!

Catalina is one of our customers… but I’ve changed her name at her request to protect her privacy. She is from Eastern Europe and translates between two non-English languages. She’s not an academically trained linguist.

She earned a graduate degree in a technical field and her first profession was in that field. During that time, she worked in a bilingual environment.

  • She learned she had a “knack” working with languages.
  • She learned that translation can be a profession in itself.
  • She learned translators with her technical skills were in demand.

Most of all, she liked the promise of independence as a small business owner.

Catalina studied translation and earned certifications. Soon, she transitioned from her first profession a professional translator with a technical specialty… first part-time and then to full-time. The work was exciting. It was freedom from a 9 to 5 job. She was living the dream.

All too soon, however, the honeymoon was over… Reality set in and her dream quickly became a nightmare… It wasn’t long before Catalina realized her customers owned her time… She had traded a demanding boss for customers who expected everything… with almost instantaneous turnaround.

I’m sure in one way or another, you know exactly how that feels. Making deadlines means sacrificing evenings and weekends. Missing a deadline risks losing customers and income. With the additional hours and fears, all freedom disappears and stress grabs hold.

Enter Machine Translation

Catalina started exploring machine translation as a possible tool to increase her productivity and to meet those tight deadlines. The online machine translation service providers looked promising. On closer look, the monthly subscriptions fees… although they looked small… were a significant portion the additional earnings from her improved productivity. It wouldn’t be a net wash, but it was close.

It was then, quite by accident, Catalina ran across Slate Desktop during a Google search in 2017, a year after our product launch in 2016. Before she could try Slate Desktop, Catalina needed to resolve two challenges.

First, she needed go out-of-pocket to pay the one-time perpetual license. You see, like most freelancers, Catalina lived from project to project. Tight turnaround times meant there was never enough free time to work extra projects and build a savings account. So, she scraped and saved. She timed her purchase with or one-year anniversary promotion that lowered the price to meet her budget.

Second, Catalina needed a computer with enough power to run the program. You see, Slate Desktop doesn’t run its personalized machine translation in the cloud. It runs on your personal computer, but you know the life… She had an older computer that barely satisfied her CAT tool specification (Trados Studio 2015).

Personalized machine translation has technical requirements that demand a more powerful computer. She remembered the money-back guarantee and decided to give it a try.

A Leap of Faith

Finally, Catalina was ready to take a leap of faith. She would use her meager old computer. If the personalized machine translation quality was good, she would upgrade her computer. If not, she would exercise our money-back guarantee… that is, she would get her money back and lose nothing.

Catalina’s PC ran for almost a day converting her translation memories into a personalized machine translation engine. She had 140,000 segment pairs. That’s a fair size and they were ALL her work… just over 5 years of experience. Later in Part 5, I’ll share Catalina’s experience evaluating her first engine.

For now, let’s just say it wasn’t what she (or I) expected… Here’s a hint… within days of starting her journey, she was so very happy with her results that she bought a powerful new computer that now builds engines, with larger translation memories, in only 6 hours! But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

Achieving Your Dream

Catalina had unknowingly stumbled into something really big... personalized machine translation. It’s easy to say that personalized machine translation transformed her career as a professional translator.

Her professional life changed from non-stop stress from missing deadlines, to calm assurance by delivering her projects ahead of schedule. Her customers gave her more jobs; she earned more money; she was living her dream. Her customers never demanded lower per-word rates because they never knew about her competitive edge… personalized machine translation.

Long story short… Catalina got her life. Personalized machine translation liberated her from the turnaround crunch… it opened her weekends. Now, she enjoys freedom and independence… and with more money in her bank account than she ever expected.

Oh… and what about that “expensive” computer and software license? Her higher income paid for BOTH in only two month… Now… all of her extra income from her higher productivity goes straight into her pocket because she doesn’t need to pay for subscriptions at the end of the month to online machine translation service providers.

This is the second in a 6-part series:

  1. Productivity, Time, Money and Opportunity
  2. Transforming Your Career (this article)
  3. Time Is Money – or…
  4. The Dirty Little Secret
  5. Six Steps To Productivity
  6. Questions & Answers
Tom Hoar

About Tom Hoar

Language technology veteran serving translation professionals for 30 years with technologies that augment translators from IBM Selectric II typewriters to dictation and translation software.

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