My experience being a translation intern at an NGO
Post by Rita Sanfilippo
In October last year, I had made up my mind about becoming a translator, therefore the first thing I did was looking for internships that would allow me to learn more about this profession.
I started to look and I was utterly disappointed to find there were very few opportunities to grow professionally in my hometown. However, in the middle of my research I found an article published by CESIE – a NGO which promotes growth through creative and participative educational approaches – they were looking for an intern in Translation and Interpreting for NGOs. I sent in my application and the following month I was already working with them. The amount of experience I got from working there cannot be paid with money.
As soon as I arrived I noticed the office was multicultural, with people coming from Lithuania to France to Tunisia. Being in contact with people with such different backgrounds not only allowed me to practice my language skills but also helped me open my mind and think about things with a totally different mindset. Working with people with a different culture from yours can be challenging but it can also help you grow professionally and personally.
At CESIE, I mainly translated projects that were designed by CESIE or one of the NGOs that worked with us. Most of these projects were funded by Erasmus+ and – as soon as I started to work – I learned that respecting deadlines is very important. If I miss out on a deadline, my colleagues are going to miss out on their deadlines as well, therefore the project and the people who worked for it will suffer the consequences. There was always a project to complete and there was always a translation waiting for me but I could not complain since this was the job I always wanted. As time went by, I was sure that I was doing the right thing.
Not only I loved translating, I also loved the subjects of my translations which I found boring only maybe 5% of the time. The projects were always interesting and I found out how hard but rewarding it is to be working for something that can help change people lives for the better. I also acquired the sectorial language used in the European framework and gained knowledge of programs and policies which until then I was ignorant about.
On a more personal note, it also made me think about what it means to be part of the European Union and, why it exists and how it affects people lives. But this isn’t all, because I was able to translate projects with a wide range of themes – going from a book of recipe for the SlowMed project to Polyglot, which helps parents who want their kids to grow up bilingual.
During my internship there was time also to interpret for my foreign colleagues in the workplace and help them with their daily tasks, but completing a translation is what made me feel satisfied and accomplished. By the time I was done with the internship I was sure translating was my thing and this is what I wanted to do in life. I now think of translation not only as a profession but as something that can enrich you personally too. The amount of knowledge one acquires while looking for the best way to translate that one word or that one sentence, can be overwhelming but at the same time can enrich you in a way that few professions can do.