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TC-Hugh

As we round out our latest week of social distancing, I thought I’d walk you through a day in the life of a Translation Coordinator, lockdown-style. As you may know, a TC's job is to manage the linguistic end of the subtitling process. This means knowing my translators, knowing my projects and knowing our client’s expectations, so I can ensure that at the end of the day the content we translate 'speak to' our target audiences.

This requires organization, good time management, a passion for quality, and above all, a can-do attitude. The biggest language I manage is French, but I also manage Malay and other languages for my fellow coordinators when they’re sick or on leave.

Believe it or not, these times of social distancing are actually bringing ZOO and its collaborators closer together. For the first time ever, we are all working from home – translators and coordinators alike. In fact, our day-to-day has probably never been more similar!

A Day in the Life of a TC

Here’s a rundown of what my typical day looks like under quarantine – you may be able to relate.

Starting off the day, my first order of business is... coffee. My Nespresso machine is one of my few luxuries at home that helps get me through the day. With cup of joe in hand, I sit down on my couch, flip open my laptop and let Outlook refresh to show my first wave of emails.

First on my list is anything urgent that may have popped up overnight (our UK teams continue to work in GMT while we sleep, keeping us constantly stocked in new emails and requests). Next up is my translators’ emails: handling any queries or issues that may have arisen – a Malay translator may need to know what the approved main title is, or a French Canadian QCer may want to know whether to translate that sign behind George Clooney’s head.

Some projects I know will go smoothly and without incident; others (say, a whole season of The Simpsons) I can tell from the outset will require a lot of back-and-forth about witty jokes, forced narratives and cultural references.

Then I jump on my daily group call where my fellow LA-based coordinators, our managers and I discuss projects. We also catch up on how we're all doing, in the aim of reminding ourselves that we are indeed part of a team, despite the social distance.

After that, my day continues in much the same fashion: addressing emails from translators on a range of subjects, approving POs, pushing files, fielding questions from our tech team, providing timelines to our Project Coordinators who relay information to and from our clients, dealing with rejections, and making sure style guidelines are being followed.

Tips for working under lockdown?

Having worked as a freelance translator for several years, I feel I’d already perfected my work-from-home abilities before this crisis ever hit. While for some people it may be a new challenge they’re only just discovering, I’ve already developed a system for staying effective while working from home.

It’s simple; since I’m surrounded by all my toys, devices and other distractions, I make a point of forcing myself to work – and only work – for, say, two hours straight. And then I reward myself with a few minutes of random internet searches, chatting with a friend, or just getting up and walking around.

As for fun under quarantine, I’ve added some activities to my usual roster. I bought a yoyo and started relearning it for the first time since I was 12. I also bought one of those retro video game consoles, so I’ve been playing plenty of Mario 3, Mega Man and Super Contra on my off time. And as usual, I can always pick up my guitar and play for hours on end.

This was a brief glimpse into my day-to-day as a Translation Coordinator, modified for life under COVID-19. Hopefully you enjoyed this and can relate. I look forward to speaking with you in the coming weeks from the comfort of our respective couches!