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My Path

How getting lost showed me my direction

If on March 17th, 2009 someone had told me that in 9 years I would have reached rock bottom in my personal life, picked myself up again, moved to another city, become a professional translator and then moved to another country, well, I never would have believed them.

 

In fact, that was the first day of my new life. I had just graduated in Scientific Information on Drugs, scoring top grades. That meant no more studying, but also no more procrastinating: I was then to become a pharmaceutical representative as soon as possible. Even if, deep down, I already knew I wasn’t cut out for that life. And the truth didn’t take long to out.

After a number of failed interviews, I had to face reality: I was neither talented in or interested in being a salesman, and that lack in skills and motivation was crystal clear to every recruiter I met. How was I supposed to promote any kind of product, if I wasn’t even able to promote myself? It was hard to admit, but eventually I did: I had to switch to plan B.

The problem was I had no plan B. My degree was very specific and not transferable to any other job. I could use my credits to enrol at the Pharmacy course, but I would have needed to retake some exams. In any case, it would have meant more tuition fees and more years of studying only to try getting another degree I wasn’t really interested in. I was basically at a dead end.

Or better, I felt as if I was in a labyrinth – a maze where every turn opens to a new crossroads, where you can’t figure out whether to go right or left, perhaps back to try another path, but you know you can’t afford to stand still, because time is running out and the sun is going down, but every choice you make seems to be the wrong one and suddenly you’re deadly afraid of choosing anything at all. How to find a way out?

While doing some filler jobs, I tried to define what I believed I could do best and use it as a new foundation. I was good at English, at writing, at studying and at using the computer. Yet, I had few titles or evidence to prove all of these talents – I only had a great will to demonstrate my value and put myself on the line. Then, I bumped into a master degree in localization. And that was the turning point for me.

The requirements of the 1-year course were: a good level of English (no linguistic degree required), good writing skills, and good IT knowledge. I simply couldn’t believe it. By attending, I would have learned about the localization field, made practice translating with CAT Tools and maybe won an internship in an agency. I enrolled for the entrance exam and spent a few weeks translating texts on my own, and eventually passed it. A new chapter of my life was opening. And I didn’t know yet how far it would take me.

Attending the course I discovered that localization requires more than linguistic proficiency: it requires attention to detail, creativity, mental agility, intuition and learning aptitude. All skills I felt I had, but never had the opportunity to demonstrate. And I wasn’t the only one noticing my talent: after a short internship, a long-established localization firm offered me the chance to join them post-graduation. I would have need to leave Turin, the city where I was born and spent all my life so far, and move to Genoa. But it didn’t take much for me to decide.

Working in-house I could grow, make mistakes being corrected, take responsibilities, and learn all the nuts and bolts of being a professional translator. I know I had to fill a wide gap with all my colleagues, so I used my free time to study languages and read everything I could about translation. In almost 7 years, I worked my way up from junior to senior and got ready to embark in a challenging yet exciting adventure: moving in another country and start a career as a freelance.

March 17th, 2018 was the first day of my new life in Barcelona. I still don’t know if I should consider this a coincidence or a sign. The only thing I know if that I look forward to the coming years, with all their difficulties and opportunities, waiting for the next challenge.

Photo credits: Tobia Vitiello