Staying with in a career where interests runs high and low

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Staying with in a career where interests runs high and low

Postby Journeyer » Sun Aug 16, 2015 7:24 pm

Hello Readers,

I am currently work as a translator for Social Security. More precisely, I work through a temp agency contracted to my local Social Security office as a translator.

My tasks are to translate medical documents from Spanish into English and sometimes assist Spanish speakers on the phone with questions about their cases.

I love languages. I come back to them all the time. I speak English and have learned Spanish and German, and my goal is to save enough to move abroad to formally study translation in Germany.

I was very reluctant to become a translator because the job seemed very good for me and I didn't want to risk the scanner thing of losing interest in it. I also didn't want it to burn me out on languages.

With all of the other jobs I've considered, I've lost a lot of interest. For instance I taught English abroad in Prague, and that was fun for a while but I lost interest in it (I don't like lesson planning, and I also didn't make enough in it to pay for getting a new visa when mine ran out. That was the real reason I stopped teaching English abroad). I gave very serious thought to getting a Masters in library science but decided not to do that because some of the librarians I spoke felt that it would not open a lot of international doors for me, and if I wanted to move abroad, I should think of another route. I also considered becoming a linguistic professor but realized that I'd rather learn about languages than just teach about their grammatical aspects.

I always kept coming back to look at translation as an option and when an in-house position opened up (meaning, I am not a freelancer but rather have a steady position in an office) I took the plunge.

Do I love it? Sometimes. For the time being is a good enough-very good job for me. I do not think I enjoy medical translation but that is the only option I have in this position. When I study translation I will look at other fields within it.

I am looking for advise or encouragement for those who may have been in my situation. I am at a low-point in my career, which I have only been doing for little over a year or so. Going through ups and downs in tasks and jobs is pretty standard for me, so a year may or may not seem like a long time but it is fairly normal in my case. And when I mean low point I don't mean I can't stand it. I still enjoy my job (usually) and look forward to it (again, usually) but doubt has been creeping in, and I think that is what I am discussing.

I realize that if you get bored with something you move on and then perhaps come back, but I don't want to keep doing that with a job, especially if I have a good thing going and it is in a field I like. I don't expect I'll want to translate for the rest of my life, or maybe I will but not full-time. But for the time being I do feel that my interest and drive will cycle back again.

It's exhausting to always go back to square one and after service work and manual labor working as a valet or at a lumberyard where you only make minimum wage (jobs I had before I moved to the city after I got done teaching English and Peace Corps, previously) I am not interested in going back that route.

I feel a little guilty sticking with something while I am going through a low and uncertain point where passion and joy are running on low, but I also think that unless it proves to be really miserable, sometimes grit and endurance is necessary. I would like to have a steady source of income while I pursue other interests rather than always search for the job that constantly holds my interest. I don't know if there is anything out there that can hold one's interest all the time.

Thank you for reading.
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Re: Staying with in a career where interests runs high and l

Postby SquarePeg » Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:15 am

To me, any job in which the duties and responsibilities don't grow over time isn't worth making into a career.

Is it possible that there's a job in translation (perhaps in a university setting) in which you could grow into a larger role in the study (and preservation, even) of languages? This is very vague on details, but I recall hearing on NPR about a certain tribe with a unique language that only four elders knew how to speak. Once those elders are gone, that language will be lost forever.

Would you be interested in an effort to discover such languages and preserve them? You could start out low level, just studying languages that others have discovered. But eventually you might grow into leading expeditions of discovery and immersion into such cultures.

That's all I can come up with, because, frankly, in your lengthy post, you didn't mention any interests other than language. Are you sure there's nothing more?

PS: I enjoy learning new computer languages. Sometimes, if I have a new program I need to write at work, I'll choose a new language for it.
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Re: Staying with in a career where interests runs high and l

Postby Journeyer » Mon Aug 17, 2015 4:33 pm

What do you mean by not including more responsibilities not being worth pursuing? One the one hand it's great to spread one's wings and have a diverse range of tasks to do, but sometimes being given so many responsibilites can be binding. Can you please expand on this?

As I am currently being trained in medical translation, one of my main responsibilities personally is to sharpen my medical knowledge in order to understand the doctors' reports on the level that a physician would.

I have never heard of a translation job that moves into language preservation, but I can see how there might be some cross-over. Another thing I have enjoyed doing is editing lexicons and vocabularies, something a person needs a high degree of attention for. Translators have to often make their own vocabulary and idioms list, and this would be vital to language preservation.

As a matter of fact, saving or documenting endangered languages was a dream of mine for many years, and I would still like to contribute towards it. However, most of the people who know anything about it told me I'd have to get a degree in linguistics and probably become a professor as well, and after that it was more struggles to get grants to do those projects, whereas I would more be interested in getting my hands dirty directly with the language. I do love learning and loved being at university but I don't think I have the stamina to live a lifetime in academia as a professor who is documenting and publishing all the time. But if I were to somehow get on a team that does that? Yes, I would love it.

Translation is something that is pretty straightforward and mobile, that's why I am drawn to it. Those are basically my pre-reqs in a job (built-in structure is a huge plus too. When I was in the Peace Corps I was in a village and really had no idea where to start so I found out that I work better following in footsteps for at least the first several steps).

I didn't mention other interests because I didn't know how relevant and they are still at the level of hobbies, but they include painting, drawing, traveling (that is obviously relevant), photography, writing (also the exception), studying about topics such history (particularly World War II), psychology, parapsychology, and religion. I like climbing and would like to try my hand at gardening.

Those are the topics off the top of my head, and certainly enough for starters. :-)
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Re: Staying with in a career where interests runs high and l

Postby Elaine Glimme » Mon Aug 17, 2015 10:44 pm

You said that this is a good-enough job. And you said you work through a temp agency. Can you keep this job, and save your vacation time and money to travel, take classes, and do the other things you love as projects just to keep life interesting? Usually working with a temp agency, you can take as much time off as you want, and not jeopardize your job.

You said you were interested in preserving endangered languages. If you got to know a professor who was doing this, you could volunteer to assist him/her, maybe for money, maybe not.

Also, while you're traveling and taking classes, and doing projects you love, another, better job may present itself.
Elaine Glimme - author - "Temporary Address" and "The Molly Chronicles"
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Re: Staying with in a career where interests runs high and l

Postby Journeyer » Mon Aug 17, 2015 10:58 pm

My goal is to stay with my job long enough to build up enough savings to go to grad school (for translation in Germany, mostly likely).

Yes, I have been able to take time off and overall I enjoy my job (at least until the past few weeks). I'm just going through a slump right now and am not yet sure if it is permanent or just one of those temporary low-points.
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Re: Staying with in a career where interests runs high and l

Postby SquarePeg » Tue Aug 18, 2015 10:58 am

Journeyer wrote:What do you mean by not including more responsibilities not being worth pursuing? One the one hand it's great to spread one's wings and have a diverse range of tasks to do, but sometimes being given so many responsibilites can be binding. Can you please expand on this?
This is a great question! I wish I had more time to answer. :) I agree that responsibility can be binding. As a father, I know that all too well! But at a job, you can stay as long as, or as short as, you like, unless you're the owner. When I'm responsible for an outcome, I'm more inclined to "step up my game." Also it tells me that someone respects my abilities and judgement enough to put me in charge of a project or process. And then people listen to recommendations I make. Third, there's also an element of teamwork implicit in responsibility. An increase in responsibility can mean that I'm more valuable to the team. But that's what works for me.
Journeyer wrote: -snip- ...saving or documenting endangered languages was a dream of mine for many years, and I would still like to contribute towards it. However, most of the people who know anything about it told me I'd have to get a degree in linguistics and probably become a professor as well, and after that it was more struggles to get grants to do those projects, whereas I would more be interested in getting my hands dirty directly with the language. I do love learning and loved being at university but I don't think I have the stamina to live a lifetime in academia as a professor who is documenting and publishing all the time. But if I were to somehow get on a team that does that? Yes, I would love it.
I'm getting excited about this type of work too as I read your post. I wonder if you can establish a working relationship with a professor who does this type of work.
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