Catherine Christaki on the red carpet (I)

Welcome everyone to the seventh episode of the translation & interpreting “red carpet” series, featuring remarkable guests of the industry who kindly accepted to share with us their views on some common points. After having Xosé Castro, Scheherezade Surià,  Lloyd Bingham, Clara Guelbenzu, Valeria Aliperta and Marta Stelmaszak as special guests in the previous episodes, the red carpet guest of this week is the well-known Catherine Christaki, running Lingua Greca Translations in Athens. Both if you already know Catherine and if you haven’t had such a pleasure yet, let’s refresh our memory a little bit.

Catherine Christaki

Catherine Christaki

Catherine Christaki has been a full-time English-Greek translator since 2001 and co-owner of Athens-based Lingua Greca Translations since 2012. Her specializations include IT, medical and technical texts. She is a proud member of the American Translators Association, the Chartered Institute of Linguists and GALA. She is active on social media, especially Twitter (@LinguaGreca), which has been voted among the Top 25 Twitterers 3 years in a row (2011-2013) in the Language Lovers competition. In 2013, she translated the popular guide for translation buyers, Translation: Getting It Right, into Greek. She writes a translation blog called Adventures in Freelance Translation and regularly talks about social media and blogging for translators in interviews and conferences.

It’s a great pleasure for me to host such an inspiring interview. A big thank you for finding the time for it, Catherine!

When did you first become aware of your calling and what happened since then?

“I started studying English when I was 7. At the time, I was fortunate to have a brother studying in the UK for his PhD (we have a 17-year age difference), so my parents sent me to visit him every summer for a month. At 10, I started with German, then French and Italian. Basically, I always knew I wanted to be a translator or interpreter. I studied Modern Languages in the UK and started working as a freelance translator as soon as I returned to Greece in 2001 (along with a day job in hospitality to ensure a steady income for the first 3 years). Two years ago, I founded Lingua Greca Translations with my partner Christos and I still love my job more than ever!”

Did you choose your specialisation or was your specialisation that chose you?

Both. I did a programming languages course when I was 8 and had access to a computer from a young age, again due to having older brothers. At university, I almost studied French & Computers instead of French & German. That doesn’t mean I was sure about my specializations when I started working as a freelance translator. My translation experience started with politics, EU and tourism. When the first IT projects came along, I realized how much I enjoyed working with such texts. I have been very lucky (I believe timing is important) to have worked with very big companies in the IT sector and 13 years later I am still very happy for my top and favourite specialization; especially in the past 4 years, since I started translating for Apple. It’s very exciting to localize content for a company you admire and are such a big fan of!

Should anyone want to specialise in your field, would you recommend anything in particular? 

“For a specialization in IT, I would definitely recommend a course/degree in Computer Science. It’s been on my wishlist since I completed my studies, but I never find the time to do it. Easier/Faster alternatives are IT magazines, expos and events, along with Linkedin groups.”

Why did you choose to go freelance rather than working as an in-house translator?

“When I returned to Greece after my studies, I thought a translation agency wouldn’t hire a beginner. When I applied and got a job 3 years later as an in-house translator, it only lasted for a few months because my freelance clientele had already grown substantially. I think the in-house experience or an internship is a must for recent graduates. It’s like a second school where you learn about CAT tools, project management, you have someone edit your work and provide you with useful feedback and so on.

As a career choice though, I need my freedom. I just can’t stand the specific working hours. I prefer working 12-14 hours every day than having to wake up at a set time every morning and go to work. The money factor is important too. Freelancing means you make as much as you work for. You choose your clients and projects. You can go on a vacation whenever you want (yes, sometimes it will be a working vacation but I can think of worse things than translating in front of an idyllic Greek beach).”

Don’t worry… there’s more coming! Next Monday Catherine will be back here to share her first client hunting experience, the importance of social media and personal branding, as well as some tips on how to make your name in the translation industry. So stay tuned!

…just in case you missed any red carpet episode, you can click on the name of the red carpet interviewee you are interested in:

As always, feel free to leave any comment. Have a great week everybody!

Alessandra :)

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