In summer 2022 I completed a four-week workplace experience at medical language service. As part of my training to be a foreign language assistant I was recommended to take the opportunity of gaining as much practical experience in the workplace as possible. And what could be better than being on board at a certified translation agency?

Right from the moment I arrived my new colleagues took time to show me the ropes and to explain how a translation order is processed, which computer program to use, and what my responsibilities would be. It was my job to compare the finished translations returned by the specialist translators with the original texts before they were returned to the clients. I also prepared the documents for the Trados Studio translation software and, after a few days of training, I was even able to co-manage my first translation projects by myself. This meant following an inquiry from a client I could prepare the quote with a cost estimate, then allocate the work to just the right specialist translator once the order was confirmed as well as checking the finished translation before sending it on to the client. And, last but not least, I issued the invoice.

This hands-on experience gave me a valuable insight into what a project manager’s work actually involves, my colleagues were so generous in imparting their knowledge and always ready to help me whenever any questions or problems cropped up. A key takeaway was how important it is to manage your time just right: what are the tasks that need to be performed on the day; which translations are expected and then need to be shipped. But I also soon learned the value of flexibility, so that you can solve any new problems that occur or make any necessary changes right away. And, as you might expect, communication with the clients and our translators from the beginning right through to the end of the translation project is absolutely vital to clarify specifications and requirements, or to pass on questions about the translation between the client and the translator. Striking the right balance between organization and flexibility so that I could meet all the deadlines and get the translations back to the client on time was truly satisfying, while at the same time also being adaptable and able to deal with questions, comments or changes quickly. And, it goes without saying, that if any problems did crop up, it was so important to be professional and creative when it came to finding solutions.

The team was so friendly and always ready to help, everyone made me feel right at home. They were always there for me and guided me through whatever questions or problems I might have. They always took time to give me detailed explanations or show me new things. Even the lunch breaks were so nice, as we could sit out in the sunshine on the balcony overlooking the River Elz.

Looking back at my placement at mls, I can truly say it was a fascinating time and full of variety because of the personal contact with so many different clients and translators, and the widest possible range of subjects that is dealt with by medical language service. But a special mention must go to the people who make up its team, they were always willing to go the extra mile to give me a deeper insight and a better understanding of their work.

By Marie Köller
Intern – medical language service