Working in Japan: Getting Started as a Freelance Translator on Gengo

Although I still get some work with oDesk, it hasn’t been nearly enough to make ends meet.  On top of that, I’m finding that for quite a few companies that advertise, outsourcing to freelancers = way to get away with paying less than minimum wage for work.

Seriously, I just did a timely estimate of website translation job (privacy policy, user agreements, the whole shebang) for a company that originally approved my character rate, only to be met with the response that they were looking for something more in the range of $0.01 – $0.015 a character.  What a time waster!  (For reference, a $0.02 – $0.03 character rate is pretty much minimum wage for Japanese > English translation work.)

So in light of that, I started branching out more.  In March I registered with Gengo, one of the bigger translation sites, and it’s currently one of the places I’ve been receiving steady work from.

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Goodbye Old Teaching Job!

I’m not out of the teaching business completely, but I was so glad to finally be able to say good riddance to my old company and crazy boss at the end of March!

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

In Japan it’s customary to give departing teachers flowers or another small gift.  Although I was aware of this custom, the sheer amount of gifts I received was surprising and somehow much more than what the past departing teachers had received!    It was bittersweet to say goodbye to all of my kiddos, but I felt loved reading their letters and how many of them said they enjoyed having class together over the past five years.  I ran out of things to use as vases halfway through the week, and this was only a third of it all!

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Graduation Ceremonies

Graduation season is here!  If you’re new to the way Japan works, the school and fiscal year begins in April and ends in March, so most graduation ceremonies occur on a Saturday at the beginning of/mid-March.

If you ever become an ALT, or are dispatched to teach at any kind of public or private education institution, chances are you’ll be invited to at least one graduation ceremony.  For the most part, they’re your average affair, but Japan does a put a few of its own twists on the occasion.

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Working in Japan: Getting Started as a Freelance Translator on oDesk

Thanks for sticking with me through this Working in Japan series!  I was wrote it as I was going through the job hunting process myself, during which I received a few hiring offers.  One of those was a great paying, part-time teaching position that I ended up going with so I’ll have time to pursue more translation work and help build my freelance translation portfolio from April onwards.

One of the ways I’ve been getting into freelance work is with the freelancer website, oDesk.  If you’re interested in translation or freelancing in other fields, I definitely recommend giving it a click.  The site itself is pretty thorough with its explanation on how to use and make money with it, but I’ll be addressing a few things that apply to freelance translation or my personal experience with the site.

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Working in Japan: After the Interview/Getting Hired

The interview is done, yay!  All you need to do is wait.  Or maybe you’ve just gotten notice that they want to hire you.  In that case, congratulations! 😀

Here’s some pointers on how to wrap up the job application process.

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Working in Japan: The Interview

So you applied for the job and landed an interview!  Hurrah!

Here’s some handy info about how Japan often conducts interviews, as well some dos and don’ts to consider.  I think many of them are common sense, but a few are unique to Japanese interviews in particular.

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