Summer Placement Diaries

René Taboada's Summer Placement with Universidad Nacional del Mar de Plata

Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata logo

Rene sitting in front of Birmingham LibraryAs part of my first placement as a student of the EM TTI programme, I worked with Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata. Initially, given this is a university, I was unsure about what tasks I was meant to perform. However, my placement providers got me to work with a real agency! Etrad Solutions. This is a company based in Argentina, and where people from Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata are involved. This agency works extensively with localisation for the Spanish speaking market, which is great because that is exactly what I need for my dissertation topic!  

One of the many interesting things about the localisation workflow, as opposed to freelance work, is that it involves many players during the whole process. The agency that makes the translation itself is just one of the engines that make the whole localisation train move. This factor gives it a greater sense of perspective and worldliness. From the very first week, I was able to have meetings with the team leaders at Etrad at a quality evaluation meeting held with the intermediaries between them and the clients. Normally, as a ‘frontline’ translator, you miss the chance to partake in such events. This is why I felt really grateful to have such an opportunity from the very first week, as I could gain a proper insight into how strategies to ameliorate communication along the translation pipeline and the overall linguistic quality delivery of translators are conceived so that the process can run as smoothly as possible. 

From the very first week, I was also given tons of reference material to get familiar with! While I have had my fair share of localisation experience in the past, I mostly focused on videogame translation, which is why I am also quite happy to have enjoyed the opportunity to explore fields and software that I had not explored before. For instance, I had to work with projects related to second-hand clothes markets, educational platforms, banking transactions websites and more. When it comes to software and platforms, I dipped my toes with Mantis, Lokalise and SQL. Furthermore, Etrad focuses on many different dialects of Spanish. One day it was Spanish for the US, the next for Spain and at the end of the week for all of Latin America! So each project needed different tweaks here and there, meaning that there was barely any time for complacency. My activities during this whole time were also very descriptive of the whole localisation process, as I had to participate in every single stage of the pipeline. Some of the projects I had to translate, while some others I needed to revise, proofread and create linguistic quality assurance reports. 

All in all, I have to admit I had a great time during my placement. All of the team members, from the coordinators to the day-to-day translators, consummated professionals, were amazingly helpful, patient and willing to share what they knew. And I can definitely say that I now know more about the world of localisation. At this point, I think the only complaint is that in the end there was very little time for everything I could have done!  

Post written by René Taboada

One piece of advice to any future students in case they need to do a distance placement: find a cool place (like the Library of Birmingham) to pretend your physical every day situation was fancier than just working from your sad ol’ desk at home.