Now is the time to apply for traineeships for 2018. Maija Tommila, who studies English translation, encourages students to contact interesting employers. Tommila’s own journey to studying English translation and working as a trainee at Delingua Language Services was the result of both happy coincidence and individual initiative.

Traineeships provide an important link between studies and employment. Students searching for a traineeship should reflect on their own interests. This is exactly what Maija Tommila did last spring. Her interest in the English language initially began in upper secondary school.

– I asked my teachers about studying English at university, and everyone told me that the subject is called English philology. Translation didn’t even cross my mind, Tommila says.

Not interested in philology, Tommila decided to move to England to study IT. She completed a degree there, but despite the good job prospects, she did not feel like the field was for her. Instead, during her years in England, she gradually became interested in translating English. After returning to Finland, Tommila applied and was admitted to study English translation at the University of Helsinki.

Important link between studies and employment

In spring 2017, Tommila was accepted into the popular An Introduction to the Translation Industry course, organised annually through collaboration with several companies in the translation sector over three intensive weeks outside the spring teaching periods. Only 16 students at the final stage of their studies are admitted to the course, leaving many prospective participants disappointed – including Tommila, who was initially placed on the waiting list.

– Luckily I gained a place through the waiting list. I still feel very privileged, Tommila states.

Despite the intense workload, Tommila praises the way the course was organised.

– We established a good rapport as a group and still keep in touch through Facebook.

Arranged through business collaboration, the course has received a great deal of positive feedback from students. They are often removed from the world of work as well as employers and general policies in the translation industry during their studies, so for many, the course provides their first glimpse of the realities of the field.

– In a way, translation is an exception among the disciplines offered at the Faculty of Arts because the students are educated more directly for a specific professional role. But many students still feel anxious about what will happen after they graduate, Tommila says.

As a result of the Big Wheel education reform, students who wish to specialise as translators will not begin their translation studies until the Master’s stage. How can Bachelor’s students gain an understanding of the field?

– It would be useful if a course at the beginning of studies acquainted students with the reality of the translation industry, Tommila muses.

Traineeships support both studies and employment

Maija Tommila says that the course allowed her to establish contacts with employers, which in turn helped her obtain a summer traineeship at Delingua. She already knew the company because she had applied for a traineeship there in the spring, but another student had been selected.

– There was a string of happy coincidences, but I’m sure it helped that I actively contacted the company, Tommila notes.

She encourages all students to contact interesting employers. Taking the initiative is a winning strategy because it shows you are interested in the employer.

Tommila’s work duties focused on the management of translation projects. Thanks to her IT background, she also worked with Delingua’s technical team.

– It gave me an idea for my Master’s thesis. I intend to explore the role that IT processes not directly related to translation or text revision play in translation and language services companies.

Traineeships can provide students with new ideas and insight into their studies. Students can also learn many skills they are unable to acquire at university.

– The management of translation projects involves many company-specific practices that you have to learn. I understand why companies are keen to find trainees who have previous experience in project management and general knowledge about the realities of the industry, Tommila says.

Tommila encourages students to participate in traineeships because they can establish valuable contacts with employers.

– The industry as a whole relies heavily on interpersonal communication.”

Trainees may also discover that what they thought was their dream job is not actually their thing. Finding out more about career opportunities, developing a clearer understanding of one’s direction and establishing networks all make it easier to take the first step on the career ladder. Maija Tommila herself does not yet have a definite career plan although the traineeship clarified her ideas.

– The traineeship increased my motivation and provided me with new opportunities and perspectives for the future and employment in the field.

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Maija Tommila found her traineeship useful in a number of ways. Photo: Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta.