NOTIS is pleased to present this Q&A with our corporate member, The Academy of Languages Translation and Interpretation Services (www.aolti.com). Thank you to Olivier Fabris for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Q: Can you please tell us a little about your organization?
A: The company started operating in 1979 as part of a language school. In 2002 we separated from the school and became an independent corporation focused on providing translation and interpretation services. Our mission is to empower our clients to connect with foreign language speakers at home and abroad through professional language services.
Q: What are the main services you offer?
A: We primarily offer translation and interpretation services in the business, legal, medical and technical fields. Our interpretation services are almost exclusively delivered in person. We also provide some multimedia services (e.g. voice over, subtitling, transcription), website localization and multilingual desktop publishing.
Q: With what languages do you work?
A: We work primarily with Western European, Asian and some African languages, but our network of professional linguists covers most languages requested by our clients. We work with organizations that serve the local LEP community, so the languages requested for those assignments roughly reflect the make-up of the local immigrant population. We also work with clients who sell their products and services overseas, and the languages requested for those projects don’t follow the same breakdown.
Q: What sets you apart as a language serviced provider?
A: We are a small family-owned operation and are able to adapt quickly to different requirements. We treat our translators and interpreters with respect, and we like to build relationships over time. We’ve been working with some of our translators for over 20 years! We do not compromise on quality. We recruit all of our linguists very carefully and we do not work with contractors whom we feel are not qualified or a good fit for the assignment. We hand pick our contractors for every assignment.
Q: What advice do you have for translators/interpreters and project managers working together?
A: Communicate, communicate, communicate! Given the line of business we are in, it seems obvious, but I’ve seen feelings getting hurt or relationships souring due to a simple misunderstanding or miscommunication. For all parties involved, be polite and respectful. Work together for the betterment of the industry, and promote high standards.
Project managers need to give their linguists clear instructions. And in return, those instructions need to be read, understood, and followed. If something isn’t clear, say something! Adherence to the schedule is of the utmost importance – do not be late for an assignment or deliver a project past the deadline. Keep your commitments (don’t give back a job you are already committed to because a better opportunity comes along). Know your limits and be honest with yourself and your client.
Q: What advice do you have for language professionals who are new to the field?
A: Be patient and dedicated. If you are passionate about what you do, and you are good at it, you will succeed! Join professional organizations. Network and market yourself. Research the industry and potential clients. Try to specialize in a few specific areas. Find a mentor. Talk to more experienced colleagues. Work towards getting a professional certification. Price your services attractively. Triple check your resume and cover letter for typos. Be responsive when a prospective client contacts you.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with translators, interpreters, students or other language service providers?
A: We value our partnership with our freelance translators and interpreters and believe that agencies and independent contractors are better off working together to advance the T&I professions.