In the name of… music
My love for English started with music. As a 10-year old, I desperately wanted to know what all those pop stars sang about, so I asked my mom to sign me up for an English language course.
After 2 years of studying, one day I came home and said “I’ve learned all the English there is so there’s no point taking further classes.” Fortunately, my mom didn’t believe that, and so my adventure with English continued for many years to come.
Time for an adventure
As an English philology student, I decided to spend a summer in the USA with the then popular Work & Travel programme. I flew all by myself to Cape May, NJ to work in a souvenir shop right by the ocean. I first hated it, as I felt really home sick, but with time I made friends and enjoyed my time there. In fact, I loved it so much that I spent three consecutive summers in the same place and thanks to this my spoken English flourished.
Will see about that
As a third-year university student, when I already had English to Polish translation experience working for a local company, our university lecturer told us “Out of 25 people in this room, maybe 2 or 3 will become professional translators.” On hearing this, I thought to myself “And I will be one of them.”
And so with the money earned in the USA, and of course with the help of my parents, I could afford an M.A. course in Bilingual Translation at the University of Westminster in London where I lived for the next 4 years.
A dream come true
When I graduated from university, I thought I was on top of the world. I had been in the top 10 of my group, done well in secondary school and was one of few colleagues who found a professional job abroad, in London.
At that point, I’d always been successful – good marks at school and proud parents. I was quite content with my life and how I was progressing. I got a job at the London College of Fashion and also started a successful career as a freelance English to Polish translator.
A lesson learned the hard way
And then one day it happened – I made a terrible mistake. As a newbie to professional translation, I accepted a job which due to its subject area I couldn’t deliver by myself.
It’s a common practice for translators to outsource their projects to get as much business as possible, and I thought I could easily accept the challenge by subcontracting a translation on an unknown to me subject to another colleague, especially that I was assured I would receive a quality translation.
When I delivered the final document to the client, I was pleased with my business skills. However, the feeling didn’t last long. Shortly after, the client rang me and in his first words asked “Maja, did you do the translation yourself?” I had no choice but to admit to have outsourced it. After my confession, I waited to be reprimanded or worse…
However, the client, instead of expressing his dissatisfaction, asked me to edit the translation myself and deliver him success.
I worked around the clock to meet the deadline. I had to exceed his expectations so I first spent time doing research on the subject. Once I knew more, work started to progress, but even then I had to ring a colleague to help me with the more technical terms.
When I finished and delivered the job to the client the next day, I felt like I won a great prize. My client appreciated the hard work and the fact I admitted to have made a mistake. Surprisingly, we still work together until this day and sometimes reminisce about our first project.
A new approach
Since this experience, I have matured as a translator and a business owner. I know there are no shortcuts and the only way to excellence is by my own work. I have learnt to only undertake jobs I can comfortably deliver (that’s why I only translate into Polish) as I want all my clients to be 100% happy with the end result.
I chose to specialise in medical translations with a focus on clinical trials and pharmaceuticals. I find working on such projects both rewarding and challenging. It’s my contribution to R&D in the present world. When I need a little break, I like to switch to business translations to use my creativity. And that’s how I try to achieve a perfect, professional balance.
My ultimate goal is to eradicate bad writing, poor grammar and translation calques often found in texts and replace these with meaningful Polish translations that simply feel right to an average reader. I am your English to Polish facilitator so join me in my endeavour and contact me today.