by Zachary Hunter
The latest entry in this series is all about the company’s sole employee from the United States. Read on to find out how he came to learn German and ended up joining the exact! team in Mannheim.
My journey towards becoming a translator began when I started learning German as a teenager. Growing up in North Carolina, I had already been interested in different countries and languages as a young child. I decided to start teaching myself German in my free time at the age of 14. After two years of learning via books and online exercises, I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship and spend my 11th grade school year in Germany as an exchange student. This was the perfect opportunity to immerse myself in German culture and rapidly improve my language skills.
After finishing high school, I continued to follow my passion for languages by studying German and linguistics at the University of Georgia. I once again took part in an exchange program, this time spending two semesters at the University of Heidelberg. I enjoyed my time there so much that I later moved back to Heidelberg to pursue a master’s degree in translation studies. Translation seemed like the best field in which to professionally leverage my language and intercultural communication skills.
I was hired at exact! as a junior translator in 2019 not long after finishing my studies. My degree program had covered translation mostly from a theoretical perspective and with a heavy dose of cultural studies. At exact!, though, I got to dive right into the business processes involved in everyday work as a professional translator. Because our customers come from such a wide range of fields and industries, I was quickly encountering loads of new terminology and technical jargon that I had never been exposed to before. This was a bit challenging at first, but I quickly came to enjoy the variety of translation orders. On a given day, I might be translating a tourism website in the morning and articles about sustainable technologies in the afternoon. No two days are the same, and that’s part of the reason why I enjoy my work to this day.
I took on an additional role in the company in 2020, becoming a project manager for our cooperation with SAP. Together with my colleague Tina Dolezel, I’m responsible for ensuring that our contingent of SAP Notes is translated from German into English and vice versa. SAP Notes are instructions for implementing code corrections or updates in SAP systems. Some of these texts are as short as 20 words, but others comprise several thousand. In addition to translating this content myself, I also coordinate with our in-house and freelance translators, assign work according to our current internal capacity, answer questions, and relay any technical issues to SAP. I also immediately take care of high-priority translations requested by SAP throughout the day. This role has given me a taste of project management and valuable insight into day-to-day cooperation with a large corporate partner.
In retrospect, joining the team at exact! was the best decision I could have made to hone my skills. I’m excited to see what new challenges our customers will bring as I continue to translate for them in the years to come.
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