On Monday 5th September I will start work as an intern at Sogedicom, a company which is based on the Champs-Elysées. It specialises in legal translation, including contracts and official documents, as well as business and financial translation.
As heavy as that may sound, and despite my increasing nerves, I am so looking forward to working 5 days a week, 9 til 5, because of the fact that translation has always been one of my favourite aspects of French. Although it can sometimes be frustrating, for example when you can understand exactly what a phrase means in one language but you cannot find the right words to express it in the other language, the process is a rewarding one and the finished product is always satisfying.
The year abroad meetings began in October of second year and as each of the options were explained I decided on a work placement, rather than studying at a French-speaking University or teaching English for the British Council. I liked the fact that I would be able to choose which placements to apply for and which to accept or decline, whereas the other two options operate on an allocation system. The routine of working also appealed to me, not to mention the invaluable work experience that I will gain and the contacts that I will make over the course of the year.
The process of finding a work placement was far from easy; I would say that it was one of my biggest challenges to date. If anyone is considering this option, my main piece of advice would be to start early. However strange it may feel to be looking at placement dates that don’t begin for another 9-12 months, getting organised earlier on in the academic year will make everything so much easier.
Searching for suitable placements, sending out applications and chasing them up takes a lot of time. Most people I’ve spoken to sent out between 10 and 20 applications… But each one does not have to be written from scratch. It is recommended that you perfect your generic CV and cover letter (‘lettre de motivation’) and then alter them slightly to fit the requirements of each company and position. Don’t be afraid to send polite follow-up emails if you don’t receive a response within a week or two – your original application may have just been missed, or the company might need a gentle reminder to hurry things along.
I sent out my first few applications at the beginning of December and got a positive, fast response from a Parisian translation company offering a 12-month placement. After what seemed to me like two good telephone interviews I let myself get my hopes up and spent the Christmas break thinking that they might choose me. I waited, and waited… and waited. Then I could not wait anymore, so I sent them an email wishing them a Happy New Year and asking if they had made a decision. Instantly they replied; they had already chosen a candidate who had more experience in the specialised field. My first rejection and I definitely felt discouraged.
I quickly learnt not to set my heart on anything too early, nor to celebrate until pen had been put to paper. Fortunately it was not long after this, following more applications and more interviews, that I was celebrating the acceptance of two work placements; the first to begin in September 2017 and the second to begin in February 2018. I’m lucky to get to split my year doing two different internships, and I’m very excited to actually start!
Hannah x x