My life in Cornwall: A translation intern’s dream

“A stone’s throw away from the sea” I thought with amazement when I first stumbled upon Anja’s website.  Even though I didn’t have a clue how to pronounce the town name “Newquay” – an utterly unnatural sequence of letters from a German perspective – I sent off my application for a translation internship without delay. Long sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs and dreamy little coves – I couldn’t imagine a better place to spend my semester break than Cornwall. Those who have watched the German Rosamunde Pilcher film adaptations know what I’m talking about – although reality is definitely more breathtaking. You can imagine my excitement when I received a positive reply!

Two months later Anja, the Managing Director, and Jenny, the Project Manager for German, welcomed me warmly at the tiny Newquay Airport, the windiest place I’ve ever been to. On that first evening in the pub I also met Jasper, Anja’s cookie-brown labrador, with whom I fell in love straight away. I spent the next few weeks exploring the incredibly beautiful landscape around Newquay together with my favourite companion, Cornwall’s most energetic dog.

Here at AJT, the atmosphere is very personal, friendly and professional at the same time. We work with modern Apple Macs and use one of the most cutting-edge translation technologies on the market – Smartling. It’s extremely flexible compared with say SDL Trados. Smartling’s interactive user interface allows customers to connect with translators and editors and questions regarding translations can be posted right next to the relevant string. The user interface also includes a style guide and glossary for each project, which is provided by the customers, to ensure translators always use the right tone of voice, terminology, etc. It didn’t take long to utterly convince me of this great tool. And in between: We joke around a little, make rounds of coffee for each other and indulge on little sweet treats that always seem to be around.

The kinds of projects I translate are completely new to me. I never even thought about “app translation” before I discovered the service on AJT’s website. In the past weeks I’ve learned that Facebook-like social media apps are unraveled into phrases such as “{xyz} is following you now”. With these kind of translations it is particularly important to pay attention the correct use of placeholders – not always an easy task because German has such a different sentence structure to English. It felt like I was offered a glimpse into programming as well. Especially when I had a chance to look behind the scenes of the AJT website, which is built on Word Press! The platform is very user-friendly, stylish and offers a lot of formatting options.

At AJT we work with a wide range of texts from marketing translation to creative website translation for a hotel in Panama or caravan hire in Canada. There’s also a bit of law (General Terms and Conditions) which I – at the risk of sounding weird – particularly enjoy. It’s safe to say: It never gets boring. The languages we use are English, French and German. This may be less than other large agencies offer, but AJT is more about being really good at what they do rather than trying to do everything. This ethos creates a focused yet relaxed atmosphere which really appeals to me. Anja and Jenny support me in everything I do, make a lot of time to answer my questions and make sure I can work independently. Outside of work they ensure I have a great time, for example while learning to surf at Fistral beach in Newquay. And they surprised me on my birthday in February with a bunch of roses, a labrador card and some other lovely presents before we all went to Falmouth after work to feast on some amazing burgers and meet some friends for drinks in a traditional pub.

Time in Cornwall passes quickly and next week it’s back to studies in Germany. I’m going to miss it all and will take a lot of fond memories home!

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