From university language labs to training at the United Nations

Yang Tang shares her experience of working as a translator and interpreter in the United Nations Office at Geneva.

MA Translation with Business Interpreting student Yang Tang standing in front of the United Nations Office in Geneva.
Yang worked as a translator and interpreter at the United Nations Office in Geneva

Why did you choose to study MA Translation with Business Interpreting at the University of Bath?

'The University of Bath had been my target university for a long time. The Department here consists of highly skilled and experienced translators and interpreters. They are the main reason why I chose Bath.

'Though the MA Translation with Business Interpreting is a new course, its structure reflects the changing nature of the worldwide marketplace, where a large number of translators with business and enterprise skills are in the need.

'This course has a strong focus on translation and interpreting in the business world, with core units including liaison-interpreting, bidirectional English-Chinese translation and using computer-assisted translation tools.'

Tell us about your training opportunity with the United Nations.

'In the second semester, I had the opportunity to train at the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG). My training at UNOG involved mainly translating documents on a wide range of topics, including human rights, conference on disarmament and international law.

'Colleagues there were very helpful, and the Director of Chinese translation section did her best to expose me to as many fields as possible.

'Thanks to this experience, I had a chance to personally meet a group of prestigious translators. They generously shared their own career paths and encouraged me and other trainees to stay in touch via email if we ever need help. Mr Xing Min Zhao was my supervisor, he always took our' feelings and needs into account and actively drew us closer to other staff in the section. I really appreciated his help.'

What was the most challenging part of your training?

'UN documents cover diverse fields, most of which I was not familiar with in the beginning, so I really struggled at times. To overcome that, I studied colleagues' translation skills and their terminology preferences. It was a grueling process, yet senior revisers' detailed feedback on my translation always made it worthwhile.

'During the tea break, we often had relaxing talks over coffee, communicating about translation, personal experiences and hot issues. I did treasure those moments and take them as the best part of my opportunity.'

Did you manage to enjoy Geneva outside of work?

'Geneva is a picturesque city. Where UNOG situates is one of the best places to have a glimpse of the city. Working in such a beautiful place and being coached by a group of experienced translators was unforgettable.

'In UNOG, there were colourful activities welcoming interns, such as cocktail parties, barbecues and cultural exhibitions. I also got invited to go hiking and have picnics with colleagues at weekends.'

What advice would you give to a prospective MA Translation with Business Interpreting student?

'Translation is a demanding but rewarding job. As a beginner in the translation industry, I must be down-to-earth and take my time.

'The advice I would give is to work on your language skills every day. Enhancing your competences both in your target and mother tongues is absolutely essential for your success.'

‘Working in such a beautiful place and being coached by a group of experienced translators was unforgettable.’
Yang Tang, MA Translation with Business Interpreting

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