CommonWealth Magazine Internship Experience

劉盈玓 Interpretation Track

One of the reasons that I chose to study translation and interpretation is that I find it very difficult to write on my own. Unlike a lot of my friends who can express their feelings in beautiful, poetic words, I tend to feel very cringey when I try to write something. Choosing a topic is also something extremely painful to me. Whenever there’s a presentation or final paper, the most difficult thing for me is to come up with a topic. Compared to actual writing, I feel more comfortable translating because I don’t need to come up with my own topic. I just need to translate the text into another language. Some might say that for translation, I still have to use my own words, but somehow it feels less awkward than actually writing something all by myself, and this is exactly why the six weeks here at Commonwealth Magazine has been a challenge for me to step out of my comfort zone.

My job was translating and writing articles for the digital content department. Through translating, I learned how to take a more readers-oriented approach. Most of the English texts were very long, but once an online article exceeded 2000 Chinese characters, the readers were very likely to lose interest. Therefore, I had to decide what information was more important and omit the parts that were redundant or too complicated and hard to explain, which is very different from doing a school assignment, in which we had to come up with ways to deal with all the information and complex sentence structures. The decision-making ability thus became very important. This skill is also crucial when it comes to interpreting. By deciding what information is important and what can be omitted, the interpretation will be more concise and structured.

Compared to translating, writing articles were more challenging to me, for the same reason that I mentioned before—coming up with a topic. To find a perspective that would attract readers, I had to dig deeper into a topic instead of browsing through news reports and simply providing a summary. I think for this task, reading more helped a lot. By reading lots of news reports and information, I was able to combine the information and come up with a more informative approach. I also needed to read and process lots of information and to decide what to keep in the article, which was also a helpful training for writing a thesis in the future.

Being in interpreting track, most of my classes in the first year were interpreting classes. It’s been a long time since the last time I sat down and translated a whole article. The internship here provided me the chance to carefully savor each sentence, organizing the structure of the sentences and articles, and looking for accurate wordings.

When interpreting, one has to make all these decisions in a very short time, so it’s often overwhelming. At some point, I felt that I forgot these organizing and decision making abilities. By spending these six weeks polishing translation skills, I’m able to pick these skills back up and remember to process and organize information when interpreting. Plus, one of my daily routines was to collect three pieces of news reports, so I read a lot of news every day, which allowed me to better understand what’s going on in the world.

What I learned here helped improve my translation skills as well as some fundamentals in interpreting. Besides, I got to experience what it’s like to be an in-house translator. Whether you’re interested in media industry, want to polish translation skills, or simply want to experience life as a full-time/ in-house translator, Commonwealth Magazine is a great place for you.