How to Get a Translation Internship

Find your way into an internship with perseverance.

Find your way into an internship with perseverance.

Before you head out into the wide world of full-time employment, it's common for many professionals to do some time in an internship. If your future career is in translation of websites, documents, or one-on-one translation, you'll find a wide variety of internships available to help you hone your skills. Most internships are offered to people who are currently in school, or who have recently graduated. If that is you, you'll have a fair crack at landing one.

Talk with your school or university counselor about internship opportunities. Some schools make databases or books that focus on internships available to students. If your school has a career services department, its staff may also help you to track down internships in your field.

Talk with your language or linguistics professors, or other professors with whom you work, about opportunities for internships. Since professors are often working in the field as well as teaching, they are likely be in tune with the places that offer internships in translation. If your professor recommends an internship, ask for a reference or an introduction as well; a word from a respected professional may give you get an edge on the competition.

Search on the Internet for international organizations, humanitarian causes and government offices that regularly use translators. Large organizations such as the European Union and commercial translation companies often offer internships for translators, and advertise internships on their websites. Search for "translator intern" or "translation intern" and include your city, state or country to locate translation services or organizations near you.

Create a resume and cover letter for each internship to which you apply. Do some research on the company so you can speak intelligently about its activities, and mention specifics in your cover letter about things you look forward to doing at the company. In your application packet, also include any work samples you may have, such as school translation papers or audio recordings of you working with someone one-on-one. If you have any translation certifications, you could also include copies in your application packet. Include your school transcripts, too; since you likely don't have much work experience, focus instead on the schooling that's prepared you to be a translator.

Treat the internship as if it were a job. If you get an interview for the internship, dress nicely, show up on time and come prepared with some dialogue and questions about the company -- the same as you would for a regular job. Also, be prepared to speak your translation language; you may be asked to provide translation on the spot. Some internships require a lot of work, and your future managers may want to test your chops before they sign you on as an intern. Following the interview, write a thank-you note and send it to the people with whom you interviewed -- the same procedure as for a "real" job.

Tips

  • If the employer requests any specific paperwork to apply for the internship, be sure to follow the instructions to the letter. You don't want to be disqualified for something as simple as not following directions.
  • Remember that your internship is not just a learning process for you, it's also a way to get your foot in the door with the organization of your choice. As such, be professional at all times, and work hard; this could lead to your first job after school.

Warning

  • Some translation internships are paid, but not all, so be sure to ask about any wages and plan your budget accordingly.
 

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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