MITI Upgrade Grant – recipient Keith Baddeley

In 2020, the French Network was delighted to launch our MITI upgrade grant. Recipients receive funds to help cover the cost of upgrading to Qualified ITI Member status. Keith Baddeley translates from French and Spanish into English, specialising in business and technical texts for the IT industry, with a focus on the cybersecurity sector.

I’d been thinking about becoming MITI for at least a couple of years. I’ve been working full-time as a translator for over six years now, so I must have enough experience under my belt to tackle ITI’s assessment, right? But every time I looked in depth at what was required, the idea went straight to the bottom of my list of priorities. I still work mainly with agency clients, particularly in the French-to-English combination, so there was a nagging doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be able to pull together the requisite client references – agencies are often reluctant to provide translators with any type of endorsement. Then there was the translation assessment and commentary! Did I really want to put myself through that?

With another full year in business behind me, I decided that 2023 would be the year I finally went for it. If it boosted my chances – even just a little – of working with the type of direct clients I really wanted to work with, it had to be worth it, surely? I went all in, deciding to take the plunge in both my language pairs: French and Spanish to English. The latter was the easier option: my MA translation project had been from Spanish and my result meant I met the criteria for the Qualification Supported Assessment (QSA) route, avoiding the translation assessment. I also had two long-term direct clients who were more than willing to provide references covering the required three years’ professional experience. After pulling together all the necessary information and submitting it with my application, I was awarded MITI for Spanish to English within a month.

I suppose I could have left it at that. Would clients in French-speaking countries really mind – or even know – that I didn’t have MITI status for French to English? Despite living in Spain, more than 80% of my work is from French, so it was important to me to do ‘the right thing’. In any case, my profile on ITI’s public directory would show the languages in which I’d been assessed, and presumably I wouldn’t appear in searches for French-to-English translators if I decided not to take the assessment in that pair. And having an entry in the public directory is one of the big benefits of being a Qualified Member. All in all, it was a no-brainer: I had to apply and take the translation assessment.

So, off my application went, with the required references (which my favourite agency clients in France were happy to provide – I needn’t have worried) and other evidence. I heard back from ITI within a week: the first stage of my application had been successful and I was invited to complete the assessment application form (which is where you also select your preferred subject areas for the assessment) and pay the associated fee. Two days later, I was able to schedule my assessment. I chose to do mine towards the end of April over a long weekend (Friday to Monday), mainly because I wanted to keep the impact on my business and clients to a minimum. It was, after all, only one weekend out of the social whirl that is life in rural Andalusia! (Who am I kidding?)

It felt like costs were spiralling a bit by now, I have to admit. I was already an ITI Affiliate member, so I didn’t have to pay the £60 application fee. The QSA route for Spanish to English had been cheaper than the standard translation assessment route, but now I’d just paid £289 for the French to English assessment too. (All fees as of early 2023, including ITI’s offer price for the assessment fee.) And then there was the increase in annual membership fees to consider. Don’t get me wrong: I saw this as an investment in my business and my future; it was just a hefty outlay in Q1.

ITI FrenchNet to the rescue! The network’s MITI Upgrade Grant is well publicised, not least thanks to reports like mine here! I checked my eligibility, decided to apply and was successful! This report is a condition of the £100 grant, which certainly eased the cost burden, so a big thank you from me to the committee!

I prepared as much as I could as ‘assessment weekend’ approached – and I recommend this to anyone considering taking the MITI plunge. For me, this meant spending a few hours the weekend before poring over the ITI’s Application Handbook and Prepare for Success pack. This helped me understand what to expect and what was required of me in terms of formatting my translation, writing the commentary, completing the assessment declaration and submitting all of that on time. It also gave me an idea of how to plan my time over the four days allocated for the assessment.

The text for translation and final instructions arrived promptly in my inbox at 10 am UK time on the Friday. I was pleased to see that the subject was Business and Finance, my first preference. But as I read it for the first time, it dawned on me that the text was pretty challenging. (What did I expect?!) I read it at least twice more before realising I could actually do a good job and deciding to accept it. (You do have the option of requesting an alternative text, but it could mean postponing your assessment if an alternative is not available.)

On the Friday, I researched the subject material and did about half of my first good draft, taking a quick note of problems I was hitting as I translated. I wanted to make sure I remembered these issues and the decisions I took for use in my commentary later. On the Saturday morning, I finished my first good draft and started pulling together my commentary. After lunch (okay, and a siesta!), I revised my translation and ironed out some niggles I’d run into. By my umpteenth read through on Sunday morning, I was happy with my translation, so I put it to one side and focused on my commentary for the rest of the day. I spent Monday morning polishing my translation (sleeping on it, twice in this case, was a luxury but so valuable), reading it through, having my computer read it out loud to me, and reading it out loud myself at least three times. Translation done! After lunch, I double-checked my commentary, making sure my references matched the line numbers in my finalised translation, completed the required declaration and output everything to PDF format ready for submission. Final checks, and off it all went by email before the 4.30 pm deadline.

The ITI membership team confirmed receipt and informed me that I would likely get the result in six to eight weeks’ time. So, I wait… Please keep your fingers crossed!

STOP PRESS! Just two weeks and two days after submitting my assessment, I’ve received the result! And I’m happy to say I passed! I’m thrilled of course, and happy I don’t need to go through it all over again.

I hope my account motivates those of you thinking about upgrading to MITI to take the plunge. The application process was much less painful than I’d imagined, the French Network’s grant helped with the cost, and the sense of achievement and recognition alone made the journey worthwhile. Go for it!