SURVEY CONCLUSIONS: Mentor’s perspective


Mentoring for Translators and Interpreters

SURVEY RESULTS - Conclusions


PART I: MENTOR – Trends from the Mentor’s perspective 


Two thirds of the 547 Survey participants from countries of all 5 continents have more than 5 years’ market experience; one third has been active between 1 and 5 years, almost three quarters of them being freelance translators and/or interpreters. Among those with professional experience of more than 5 years, 124 have market experience of more than 20 years. Yet according to this Survey, only one third (167) has actually acted as a mentor in the past.

Most became a mentor in the past to help another professional, followed by teachers who took on a mentoring role for their students. According to this Survey, a vast majority of mentors do it because they enjoy helping another freelancer’s career. This is followed by wanting to keep skills updated and creating opportunities for future partnerships.

Survey results seem to indicate that professionals who have acted as a mentor once tend to repeat this role. So, the question to be asked here is why almost two thirds of the Survey respondents, with professional experience ranging from a minimum of 5 to a maximum of over 20 years, have never acted as a mentor before, thus not passing on their matured skills, (market) knowledge and insights.

Unclear expectations and risks seem to constitute a real negative attitude for mentoring. An important number of people fear mentoring somebody who does not match their quality criteria; they would like to have the option to choose a mentee from a pool of candidates, or be chosen by a mentee over other mentors.

Also, twice as many professionals are willing to mentor exclusively on translation and interpreting language-specific questions, as are willing to do so in the area of building up a business, invoicing and marketing. Hardly 10% have exclusively mentored in the so‑important but apparently heavily neglected mentoring field of business matters.

 Out of the two thirds of participants who have never acted as a mentor, 50% also reject taking on a mentoring role in the future, stating – again – unclear expectations as the second most important reason. In order to attract more professionals into mentoring, a General Standard could provide better understanding and a standardized framework of what a mentor should do by listing and outlining all eligible mentoring fields as well as their sub-areas to choose from. Given that almost 70% of mentors are willing to mentor remotely (meeting on skype and exchanging emails), it should also promote the extensive use of new communication technologies.

Analysis of prerequisites to take on a mentoring role seems to corroborate the need to raise awareness in the Community on the existence of mentoring programs and freelance coaches as an option able to be developed beyond classic mentoring programs in academic settings, taking into account that more than 40% of participants state they would act as a mentor if asked to do so. The second most chosen prerequisite to either becoming or to continue being a mentor was to be supported by other mentors. This was closely followed by Recognition for the mentoring effort, Getting paid or get some other sort of benefit, Having a program and a standard to follow and Wishing to be part of a controlled mentoring program. A legally binding confidentiality agreement with the mentee seems to be of interest to a considerably lower, yet still significant, number of respondents, which seems to make sense, taking into the account that ours is an unregulated profession. 

More mentoring hours might be provided by professionals if our Community developed coaching models to facilitate customized, “out of the box”, peer-to-peer mentoring in our Community, given that lack of time and/or payment is apparently a hindrance, either to providing more mentoring hours or to providing any at all.

PART II: MENTEE – Trends from the Mentee’s perspective


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