Originally posted on 20 March 2015 at http://www.josephwojowski.com/transtech-blog/translation-memory-tools-part-1
This blog post will be in two parts, the first sets up the second in that it talks about my experience starting out as a project manager and how I got into working with translation software. The second part will express my views on my preferred translation memory tool and why.
Trials and Tribulations in Project Management and Translation Technology
While I have been translating since 2007, I did not start on my present course, with a great focus on technology, until 2010. I was a project manager at a small LSP in Chicago and had been there for almost five months, I hated it. Sure, I got along well with most of my co-workers, but the management set impossible expectations and threatened dismissal (on a monthly basis) if I did not improve. I was discouraged, miserable, and seriously debating on whether or not I had made the right choice to work in this industry. But when you suck at your job and you are frustrated, you have two options: 1) the lesser man will allow his anger and frustration to fester, change nothing, he will continue to be miserable, and eventually, he will either get fired or quit; 2) the greater man will put his nose to the grindstone and become awesome. I chose the latter, and luckily, I had help. My co-workers understood what I was going through; one co-worker who had an established work history at various LSPs offered a piece of advice that set me on a path that would define my career as it is today, she told me that if I wanted to get on the boss’s good side, I should start showing interest in a TM tool he was very optimistic about, MemoQ. The concept and use of translation memory was still one I was trying to grasp – a lot of what I knew was only acquired from brief explanations from co-workers as they were executing operations that were novel to me or hands-on use. Despite being 2010, we were still using Trados 2007 with Office 2003.
I started showing interest in MemoQ and my boss let me take learning MemoQ on as my special project, the first of many. I set out to teach myself everything I could about MemoQ 4. I would throw documents and file types at it regardless of whether or not Kilgray published it as an acceptable file format. If I could not get MemoQ to properly isolate translatable text (in, for example, autoCAD files), I found ways to work around it until I got it to isolate translatables. My computer was home to every sort of customized macro and third-party application I could find in order to get the result I needed. It was hard work and frustrating at times, but it all led up to one thing: figuring out how to instruct my co-workers on how to use it. After a deluge of questions, I wrote a user’s manual for it so they could refer to it as reference, and while keeping that material up to date, I was charged with looking into other programs and testing out strengths and weaknesses of SDL Studio 2009, WordFast, and XTM. Eventually, “Joe, come into my office, we need to talk” changed into, “Uhhhh… Joe, how do I…” and my outlook at the job greatly improved; and above all, during that time, I had improved my abilities as a project manager.
So why would I start this article off with a history of being a project manager?
First and foremost, I am always asked by language students and translation students which is the best way to get started in the industry after college. Something that I have always said in response and that has been echoed from colleagues is to get into project management first. Working in project management gives you a much clearer idea on how the industry operates; you get a better idea on how rates are established, and how to value your work as a translator. While I may have had a rocky beginning, I learned a lot those two years when I was a project manager and I have been able to share my lessons learned with the project managers I hire and train today. Secondly, I shared this story because we all start somewhere and while I believe that we each must find out our own paths in the industry, my own path is not one that is out of reach for anyone; moreover, I feel my own history and path in the field lend credibility to my arguments for one tool over another. I have tested them all and continue to do so, I have figured out what I like and do not like from each of them. Some programs have fallen by the wayside, deemed not worth my time for one reason or another; others stand out like shining beacons and continually prove to lead translation technology in innovative ways. Overall, it comes down to one important aspect of technology: those who create hardware or software in any form must always be focused and stay on top of how users use the technology and how they could want to use the technology in the future. Not doing so leads to a decline in the standing of the product and subsequent disuse.