Coming late to life as a freelance translator, Isabel Vidigal has not only embraced the role but mentors others within the industry.
What’s your story?
After getting my Business Administration degree I started working in the corporative environment. 20 years later I had a 180-degree career shift, becoming a translator.
Working in-house in a translation agency I discovered ProZ (a “LinkedIn for translators”). There, I developed my new career, building my client portfolio.
Soon I was organizing translation events, presenting lectures, and started offering mentorship for beginners/more experienced professionals migrating from other careers.
I manage a group on Facebook called Tradutores Iniciantes com Medo de Perguntar (“Beginner Translators Afraid of Asking”) to help the less prepared beginners and offer orientation and a safe environment.
What excites you most about your industry?
When you are a translator, you are learning every day with each translation, you feel you are growing as a person and as a professional. It also gives us a feeling of connecting worlds and sharing knowledge.
I like to say as well that a translator is a “citizen of the world” because our clients could be from everywhere, I have clients from more than fourteen countries and our work has no borders.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
I have a passion for learning and sharing knowledge. I consider it as part of my vocation to help those who have less ability to identify the best paths and options in the profession. Being involved in a profession that is continually forcing us to learn, open our minds and gain access to new cultures is fascinating. Also seeing the difference we can make in someone’s life with mentorship is rewarding.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
Always be open to modern technologies and opportunities, have the resilience and emotional balance to know how to deal with the frustrations of poor job offers, lack of response from clients, lack of ethics from other actors in the area who seek only their own benefit, dismissing the industry integrity and fairness principles.
To be very curious about everything, continually seek knowledge through reading, traveling, studying, and interacting with other people from the translation industry or outside of it.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Do not give up, even when there seems to be no way out, or when the effort is not worth it, because everything passes, even the trickiest situations will change. Believe in yourself and move on.
Who inspires you?
More than great well-known personalities, who inspire me are the unsung heroes we meet daily, people who wake up at dawn to take care of their children before leaving for work and facing heavy workdays; or so many people who help those who need it in a continuous and disinterested way and who, perhaps, will never be recognized but who continue to improve the lives of those around them, often with a smile on their lips and experiencing difficulties. There are many of these out there.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
I was incredibly surprised knowing I was recommended for this interview. I know I have been doing well because my clients keep sending me jobs and I am happy with my mentoring activities sharing my knowledge and experience with those who need the most, but I did not know that this could attract the attention of someone outside the translation industry. I should confess that was a boost of incentive for me.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I am not sure I would do something differently, the mistakes I have done were useful to teach me how to do better. Maybe, I would have changed my career earlier if I had known I would be so successful and happy as a translator and as a mentor.
How do you unwind?
I love doing handicrafts, I make big and small dolls with old coffee pods, leftover packaging, and fabric scraps, I take care of the garden, especially my rose bushes, and I like to bake as well, it is one of my passions. In addition, I sing in a classical music choir, I have had the opportunity to sing in the most important theaters in São Paulo, with orchestras, presenting baroque works, operas, and others.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
When I realized that it was perfectly possible to make a living from my work as a freelance translator, building a portfolio through ProZ.com with clients from all over the world. As I had been a salaried employee until then, it was a tough decision that required courage. I have never regretted that decision, with my laptop and a good internet connection I can work from everywhere.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Mox’s Illustrated Guide to Freelance Translation by Alejandro Moreno-Ramos.
An inspiring book depicting with humor the daily routine of freelance translators and talking with humor about prominent issues and situations we face in our working environment. As Kevin Lossner, a well-known translator says: “… he captures the spirit of our fast, confusing times in characters which are archetypes well known in the translation world.”
Shameless plug for your business:
I am always looking for new clients to establish partnerships with; direct clients or translation agencies that have the same vision as mine in terms of the importance of quality in translations, making every effort to meet their client’s expectations.
If you are looking for a translator with a great cultural background, with a global view of the world, who translates from English, French, and Spanish into Brazilian Portuguese, who cares about the quality, fluency, and accuracy of the translations provided, I think you should look for my services!
How can people connect with you?
Through my social media profiles indicated below, or through my email: email@example.com.
Social Media Links?
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.