Keep Calm and…Build Resilience!


Here at TransTeach we’re all about supporting the next generation of translators, and writers, and bloggers – indeed any young person starting out on their professional journey. Consequently, we’re keen to provide a platform for them to articulate their experiences and the realities of the working world that they currently face.

This month, we’re doing just that, with the first of our posts from younger guest bloggers who have something they want to share with others, supporting TransTeach’s focus on cross-discipline education. 

This post was written by James Hewlett (, a recent masters graduate in Translation and Interpreting from the University of Nottingham. Now employed as a linguist for a large translation company based in Warwickshire, his route to securing his current role involved a whole host of time-consuming applications and interviews, a few false starts, some raised hopes and a number of dashed ones. This is what led him to want to write about a very pertinent topic and one which has undoubtedly helped him arrive at where he finds himself today….

Starting out in the translation industry, or starting any new professional endeavour for that matter, is never easy, and our first few steps will always be fraught with difficulty. For all the effort and work you may have put in to get you where you are today, sometimes it feels that Lady Luck is really just not on your side. If only instant success were as easy to achieve as Bradley Cooper in the film Limitless. Alas, the only place that success comes before work is in a dictionary, at least an English one anyway. But what happens if you haven’t achieved those goals within the time period you wanted to achieve them? What happens if your translation career still hasn’t taken off? Should you throw in the towel and just give up?

It’s safe to say that in my limited professional life, I have been faced with a number of challenges, setbacks and rejections, but there are two important life skills that have got me through these challenges and have led me to finally taking my first steps in the translation industry: perseverance and resilience.

Keep Going You CAN Do This

These two life skills are seldom discussed in the translation industry. We could easily spend hours debating terminology queries, or the ins and outs of various CAT tools or how much we should be charging per word (if working freelance). However, no one really spends the time talking about how to prepare ourselves for the adversities we may face in our professional lives, nor the impact of these adversities on our self-confidence and self-belief.

There is never a quick fix after your self-confidence takes a knock, or even perhaps a beating! You may have spent hours preparing that wonderful presentation, that detailed covering letter or that test translation for a new client or prospective employer, but when they turn around and reject you for whatever reason, it always feels like a kick in the teeth. It always hurts. I’ve had my fair share, and so has everyone else, only some people don’t like to admit their failings and then share them with the world, opting only to share their successes. But more often than not, when we receive (critical) feedback or a rejection from a prospective client/employer, we tend to spend hours analysing our mistakes and thinking about them to the point of madness. This is where we begin to lose our confidence and more importantly when we perhaps begin to lose hope of ever achieving our goals. So how do you stop yourself from over-analysing and losing hope?

Tigger resilience

Life does like to deal us a rough hand from time to time, and this is when our perseverance and resilience are really put the test. Accepting this is the first step. From here then, if you are rejected or experience a setback, take it with your head held high, confidently smile and be gracious in your reply. A politely written email or a cordial handshake goes a long way. But do not try and rectify the situation too quickly. Panic is your worst enemy. Take some time out and return to the feedback you have received a little while later, when you’ve had a chance to relax. Then, and only then, should you try and make some changes.

If your pitch wasn’t detailed enough, add some more detail; if you made some terminology errors, refine your terminology research methods; if you made a typo or caused a QA issue, put some extra steps in your QA processes. However, do remember, pobody’s nerfect [misspelling intended]. What I’m trying to say is that there’s always an opportunity to learn in most setbacks. Granted, we may not want to hear criticism, no one likes to be criticised, especially unfairly so, but part of perseverance and resilience is bouncing back from adversity. Running away and burying your head in the sand will get you nowhere. I do, however, recommend a good rant from time to time!

Keep Calm and Build Resilience

So, never give up hope and belief in your endeavours. Remember that persistence and resilience are key skills for today’s modern workforce, especially so in the translation industry. You are not alone in trying to make your dreams become a reality, and neither are you the only one to hit a brick wall, or two or three, when starting out. If there’s one piece of advice I think we should all remember; it’s that the achievements we are most proud of are the ones we have to struggle the most to obtain.

A huge thanks to James for taking the time to write this post whilst also settling into a full-time job in a new city. We hope it encourages, motivates and inspires both his peers and those following in his footsteps over the coming months to hang on in there no matter how hard the going gets.

One thought on “Keep Calm and…Build Resilience!

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