Skip to main content

An intern's journey from university to the real world

27 February 2019
By Cecilie Tejnø

I am studying English with a profile in Translation and Communication in the 3rd semester of my Master's programme at the University of Copenhagen. I was lucky enough to meet Barbara from GlobalDenmark when she gave a presentation on technical translation at one of my courses a few months ago. It was incredibly exciting to hear about the career opportunities that a language degree offers, and it inspired me to look into the possibility of starting an internship with GlobalDenmark. Fortunately, they were willing to welcome (another) intern to their company and I am looking forward to an interesting and educational programme that will end in January. I will get to sniff a bit at all the company's task types in the different departments, as well as prepare content for the company's online profile. I hope you will read along.

Theory vs. practice

I'm not sure what I had in mind before I started my internship, but I didn't expect to be put on an equal footing with the rest of the company so quickly. On the second day of my internship, I was given my first "real" translation assignment. By "real" I mean an assignment that didn't just have to be read through once by a tutor, given a mark and then filed. No, it will actually be used out in the "real world" and it was quite a satisfying feeling to finish it, even though it was also very challenging. Fortunately, I wasn't completely left to my own devices, as one of the company's experienced translators read and proofread the translation with me, while we discussed the changes he made. This in itself is a very instructive process.

I've read all sorts of theory about translation, but putting theory into practice is easier said than done. Because (unfortunately) there is no recipe for perfect translation. Translation is a communicative tool that varies from task to task, so you need to combine your theoretical knowledge base with a lot of practical skills to become a good translator. And that's exactly what you do when you go on placement.

CAT Tools

These skills can be supported by different tools. GlobalDenmark uses a CAT (Computer-Assisted Translation) tool called MemoQ. This tool makes the job of a translator much easier, and I don't think many professional translators work without one. But they do at the University of Copenhagen. During my studies, I only had the opportunity to work with a CAT tool once. Otherwise, I did all my translation work 'manually', of course with the help of dictionaries and various databases. Of course, this has taught me a lot about translating, but it was an almost new world for me to solve a task using a CAT tool, which is an indispensable tool for most professional translators. This will undoubtedly strengthen my skills in using translation tools and benefit me in the future. Of course, my theoretical background will also help me a lot when I enter the job market as a graduate, but the job market often expects more than theoretical knowledge, and I am therefore very grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of GlobalDenmark for a while.

I am also very pleased to see that the Government's Entrepreneurship Panel is now focusing on the value of internships for university students, because as they state: "[t]hese companies need a workforce that hasn't just spent its education with its nose buried in books".

Read also article from DR