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Well, September is here again – a time for new beginnings for a lot of language graduates finishing their education and either ambitiously taking the first steps towards a career they’ve always dreamed of, or looking at job websites and thinking ‘I have no idea what I’m doing’. I didn’t even know project management was a thing until I did my MA, so as I am thoroughly lacking in creativity and have been a busy project manager these past few weeks, I thought I’d just write about my job today.

Translation project managers work for a translation agency, and plan and oversee translation projects, making sure that the translations are delivered on time and on budget. They also serve as first port of call for all queries to do with the project. This basic role underpins all translation project management positions, but the specific steps you’ll need to take and tasks you perform to fulfil it will vary between employers.

Here are a few of the main skills you need to be an effective project manager:

First of all, you need to be good at writing emails, because you’ll spend a LOT of time doing that. The PM is at the heart of each project, and the point of contact at the translation agency for all ongoing projects, relaying messages to clients, translators, reviewers, DTP specialists and their own colleagues and internal departments, making sure things go according to plan and keeping everyone as happy as possible.

You also need to be able to deal with deadlines: each project will have its own mini-deadlines before the Final Deadline. Then there are invoicing deadlines, internal deadlines for miscellaneous admin tasks, and the end of day deadline for getting as much as possible done before going home. So it’s really important that you’re able to take it all in your stride – or at least able to stay outwardly calm.

Thirdly, because of all these deadlines, you’ll need to plan ahead and be able to come up with alternative plans if things go wrong, in order to minimise the impact on the client. There can be more than one approach to a project, and it’s up to you to try and work out the most efficient one.

Flexibility is a must – you could have an entire day of work planned out in your head by 10am, and at 10.05am you might get a request for a 10000 word translation due by 5pm the next day, or a translator might phone to tell you they’re ill and can’t make today’s deadline. You have to be ready for anything, and every day will be different.

Some multitasking ability is also useful. This is something I’ve picked up along the way, as I tend to prefer to concentrate on one task at a time. If you have multiple projects on the go at different stages, you’ll need to be able to pick up each one where you left off and deal with various interruptions. The easiest way I’ve found to deal with this is simply by making lists of what I need to accomplish, and adding new tasks/crossing off completed ones as the day goes on.

Perhaps most importantly, you need to have professional people skills, in order to be easy to work with and leave a good impression on everyone you contact.

At Lingua Translations, our project managers are always friendly and approachable, and ready to help and advise clients and translators alike at a moment’s notice.

For more information, to find out why you should choose Lingua Translations as your preferred language service provider, or to enquire about our translation services and professional interpreting services, simply contact us on:
Tel: +44 (0)1792 469990 or email: info@lingua-translations.com

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