Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
How much do you charge?
You can get an idea of my rates from the National Union of Journalists (UK) freelance fees guide. If you’re a non-profit organisation I’m open to negotiation.
Where else are you on the web?
How many languages do you speak?
As well as my native English, I’ve studied French, Spanish, Italian and German. My German is so rusty it’s almost nonexistent, while my Italian is headed that way. French and Spanish are the languages I’m most comfortable with besides English. However I only work translating from Spanish or French into English, as I think it’s important to use a native speaker of the language to which you’re localising.
I also think you get better value for money using a translator familiar with your material. Science, for example, can seem like a language of its own, so I may be more adept at translating a scientific paper from Spanish to English than a more experienced Spanish translator.
How do you balance work and travel?
Travel informs my work and vice versa. I rarely take holidays, rather I’ll work half the time and immerse myself in local culture the other half. This keeps my work fresh, mind active and life interesting. I have stretches of time in transit or in remote locations, but with no more disruption to work than a typical Australian working a 9-5 job with five weeks of holidays each year.
Travel aside, I’m focused on productivity rather than presenteeism. I discussed why in this podcast series I presented about women entrepreneurs in science, engineering and technology. That said, I also think meeting and working with someone face-to-face is invaluable for building trust and understanding, particularly in multicultural situations.
I see telecommuting as part of a more more sustainable future, but given I fly often I can’t claim to be a case study for sustainable work practices! I try to offset this somewhat by eating local food (I love markets) and using public transport or bicycles to get around cities.
How do I get work in science communication?
Reading the Association of British Science Writers’ advice (PDF) and the Science and Development Network’s e-guide to science communication should give you some food for thought.
Should I study science or journalism?
It’s up to you. I did a degree in journalism (and another in international studies), with some science electives, and have since done specialist science editing training and some other science courses. I’m now doing a PhD in Science Communication, which is in ANU’s Faculty of Sciences so it’s technically a science degree.
Many people go the other way, doing an undergraduate degree in science and then a postgraduate course focusing on communication. Both paths work. If you have your heart set on working for a particular organisation, I would contact them and see what qualifications they expect graduate-level staff to have.
Though before you plan your career around the preferences of an organisation, I think you should read George Monbiot’s career advice.
How do I get work as a translator?
Know people who need things translated! When I’m a more experienced translator I might have more tips. I think it’s important to travel and immerse yourself in the culture and language you want to work in. Studying French and Italian at university were of little value to me, compared to what I learnt in-country. No amount of grammar, vocabulary or oral examinations will give you an understanding of the language like hearing it in action.