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Trigger Finger

When I started out, there were even times where I had to take a city bus and deliver a floppy disk to the client. However, email was readily used, although not with such large attachments, and without the ubiquitous Gmail. I would receive a translation, and if it wasn't the first or second job with the client, it was assumed that I was available unless I answered otherwise. Then I would translate the file and send it back to the client by or before the stipulated deadline. I would most often receive confirmation of receipt from the PM (project manager) and that would be that.

Now, with large translation companies with offices worldwide, it's first come, first served. What I mean is that each translator on the mailing list for a particular language combination will receive an email notification stating the available job and details such as number of words, price and deadline. The translator then goes to the agency website, which is a platform, and selects the job by clicking a button. Sometimes it will be assigned immediately and other times, a PM will either approve or reject the offer. Then the translator receives an approval email, in which case he or she starts working on it, or a rejection email, which ends the process right there.

While working on this job, the translator will have to use the CAT tool used by the agency, and the translation memories and termbases are all online, so they are followed by default. When the translation is completed, the translator uploads it and clicks a button to confirm it's complete.

I feel that the system is impersonal, because you don't have even a minimal email exchange with the PMs upon accepting. You are also not chosen for the quality of your work (ultimately, you are, I guess), but for how fast your mouse trigger finger is. If you wait even five minutes after receiving the email notification, the job could have disappeared, and if you wait half an hour, then it's almost sure to be gone.

Then there are the time differences. Chile has daylight savings time, so it's either two hours ahead from Eastern Time or the same as Eastern. Very good time zone for the US, but no so good for Europe. That means that whatever notifications or other business being dealt with during Central European Time will be going on partially while I am asleep, so my trigger finger will be unavailable. This also happens when I am out or away from the computer or my phone.

If you start working for one of these agencies with platforms and are just starting out, I recommend being very attentive to whatever device you are using so that you don't miss new job offers. Consider getting up early to maximize your possibilities. You could also have someone else do it as long as you give them instructions on what they should accept.

I should also mention that these platforms often give you the option to preview jobs on offer. I will say it now, and I will say it often: see the goods first before accepting!

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