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My internship at SwissGlobal Language Services AG

For my fifth term at ZHAW Applied Linguistics, I had the opportunity to complete an internship at SwissGlobal Language Services AG. I spent 6 months diving into the world of project management and learned an incredible amount about the language services industry.

For any new interns looking for advice, read my report below.

An early passion for languages

My name is Sarah and I am currently in the sixth term of my Multilingual Communication studies at ZHAW. Languages have always fascinated me, ever since I was a little child. When I was a child, I always wished I had a magic watch that let me speak every language imaginable. It therefore came as no surprise that my favourite subjects at school were languages.

Even in my personal life, I use and consume several different languages every day, whether it is speaking English with my boyfriend, reading a book in French or watching subtitled Korean series.

For me, one thing was always clear: I could not imagine working in a career that did not involve languages. When it came time for me to choose my degree course, the  Bachelor’s in Multilingual Communication seemed perfect. The course combines theoretical approaches with practical applications and helps students become genuine language professionals.

6 months at SwissGlobal

After I completed my fourth term, I could finally put what I had learned into practice in the professional world.
My internship at SwissGlobal lasted for six months, beginning with my onboarding by their highly motivated team and going on to see me become more and more independent.

At the beginning, the flow of information was huge, and my head was bursting with new information about clients, workflows and Trados at the end of every day.

Trados was part of my daily routine and I have now become a dab hand at it.

They did teach us a bit about CAT tools during the degree course, including how to use SDL Trados Studio. For time reasons, however, we only really skimmed the surface. It was not until I passed further certifications at SwissGlobal that I became aware of how versatile the tool is and how to get the most out of it in everyday working situations.

You can even use the tool to handle most of the tasks involved in project management, whether it is locking parts that have already been translated, analysing text volumes or performing the final quality check and sign-off of completed translations, before everything goes back to the client.

Interface between clients and translators

However, this is not all I learned over the past 6 months. Dealing with clients, liaising between clients and translators and, of course, organising all different types of projects all constitute valuable experience for my future career.

Finding the right translator for the right client in particular is very interesting, but at the same time it requires nerves of steel. I am the first point of contact whenever translators have questions about a project or they need more time. This means I have to be organised and efficient, as turnarounds are often tight and delivery deadlines are not always negotiable. My tips for situations like these: Keep calm and don’t lose your nerve. In most situations, there is a solution, and the majority of contact persons are open to discussion.

I took this attitude on board more and more over the past six months. I can only recommend that future interns do likewise, as everything can appear very complicated and uncertain at the beginning. The fantastic team at SwissGlobal is however always there to lend a hand wherever possible. I never really felt overwhelmed and was slowly able to develop the self-confidence that I have today.

More and more personal responsibility

During the holiday period between Christmas and the New Year, I finally had the chance to put my knowledge to the test: I was alone in the office.

Because things were pretty quiet over the holidays, it was fine at first.
Then, all of a sudden, everything changed. A major new project arrived. I didn’t even have time to panic or to get stressed out. It was time to put everything I had learned into practice and prove myself.

I contacted all the translators, worked out the finer details with the client and planned everything. So far, so good. When the first documents arrived, that was when things really got serious. As is so often the case in this industry, the deadlines were tight. I got into a strict rhythm of preparing the texts, drawing up a schedule, checking the translations and sending them back.

This and other projects really showed me how much I had learned. The abilities I have acquired go far beyond project management. The right way to deal with clients, employees and translators, combined with an increase in my self-confidence, are in my view some of my most important achievements.

What now?

Now, I am starting my sixth and final term at ZHAW. The greatest challenge will be writing my bachelor’s thesis, as well as the end-of-term exams in the summer. After half a year in the office, I will have to get used to the university routine once again.

I have not left the office entirely, however. I am still working at SwissGlobal on a part-time basis, alongside my studies, so that I can continue to improve my knowledge and abilities.
One thing is clear: in the language services industry, you never stop learning. Every day brings its share of fresh challenges. But that is exactly what makes it so exciting.