My Career: Things I Love, Things I Hate, Things People Don't Know

Since this community has so many people from so many different backgrounds, I thought it might be fun to talk about what we all do in meatspace. I think it’d be really fascinating to get a bit of insight into what people do (or used to do if retired) on a day-to-day basis. To keep it from getting too personal or posting identifiable information, I thought we could just keep it to the ups and downs and surprising things about a given career. I’ll get us started… (If this seems overly self-indulgent, please let me know and I’ll take this down.)

Career: Translator (Japanese to English)
Note: The experience of a translator probably varies quite a bit depending on the language set. I would love to hear from people who handle other languages.

Things I Love:

  1. I get to say I am a professional writer! Because technically, I am! Seriously, though, not to brag, but I take a lot of pride in creating readable documents in English; a lot of craftsmanship goes into each and every sentence.
  2. I get to learn SO much. I translate all sorts of documents, and you have to understand what the document is talking about to come up with something equivalent in English. This means spending a lot of time poring through Wikipedia articles about subjects that I would never look up otherwise, including things like Hazmat requirements and navigating export control rules.
  3. I work both in-house at a major manufacturer and freelance. In both areas, I get to set my own schedules and priorities when it comes to what gets translated when. (I agree to a deadline, rather than having one imposed on me.)

Things I Hate:

  1. Some people are just not very good at writing. A lot of documents that I have to translate are just really poorly written (and I’m talking about grammatical and logical errors, in addition to really flat prose), but I still have to translate them all the same.
  2. Some of the documents that I have to translate are incredibly boring. Checklists for turning a piece of equipment on or off, that kind of thing.
  3. My clients are ultimately the Japanese people who request translation, rather than the natives who read the English documents. Sometimes, people have certain preconceived notions about what words should be used, and they’ll modify my words without consulting me, which often means accidently replacing a noun with a verb or vice versa. I cannot express how much this annoys me, seeing my work ruined.

Things People Don’t Know

  1. Japanese is a very ambiguous language, so it’s not always clear what a sentence is trying to say. (Sentences do not need to have a subject in Japanese. Something like “Went to store. Was berated by staff. Will never go again.” Is perfectly fine in Japanese.) If I am on a tight deadline and I am not sure what a sentence is trying to say, I absolutely will just guess.

Ok, that’s enough from me. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else gets up to when not on the BBS.

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Fun idea! I also find I’m very curious about fellow posters here. There is such a wide range of experience and expertise.

(Current) career: technical consultant for a federal energy efficiency program. I do a bit of everything, but focus a lot on workforce issues, training and ongoing program evaluation and improvement. Less so, now, but I also travel around the whole country (US) and territories to do site quality assurance visits and trainings.

Things I love:
Since I work at the federal level, I have this amazing network of people throughout the whole country. Especially the ones involved in training are a very generous and talented group. They are what keep me here, even when working with unbearable administrations.

My federal clients and my boss at our small company are amazing. I’ve been able to really follow my skills and interests and carve out a job that is generally interesting and feels meaningful. I get to steer the conversation a lot more than I had experienced at previous jobs.

Despite the undercurrent of bureaucracy, I get to work on creative projects and problem solving, which I love.

Things I hate:
Same as you, sometimes I see my work getting diminished or ruined. Sometimes, working with other contractors or agencies, things can get totally derailed due to incomplete knowledge or background, or sometimes political motivations, and the work suffers. It’s like seeing your lovely painting get shat upon.

I don’t get to put my name on some of my most noteworthy projects. Due to the nature of being a gov’t contractor, things get published under the names of people who had little or nothing to do with their creation, just because of the position they hold at a certain gov’t lab. It doesn’t really matter, I tell myself, because everyone who really counts already knows who does what. But I sometimes think it limits my ability to transition (if I ever want to) to another field, because it will be hard to show that it was in fact me who led those projects. And sometimes hearing something be called the (insert name here) (insert project here) it is very difficult not to say, “I did that!”

The dead weight. Just as working with such a broad network means I get to assemble my awesome circle, it also means I have to deal with a vocal subset that are always going to complain and will never propose any solutions. It can wear me down.

Things people might not know:
Building science is a really interesting field. Learning just the basics will change the way you interact with your own dwelling, and it will mean you always see interesting things when driving through any neighborhoods, because the buildings all tell stories.

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Thanks for sharing! That sounds challenging, rewarding and downright useful to society, to boot!

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