February 12, 2021

MS in Translation & Interpreting Alum Spotlight: Yiyun Shen

Q: What kind of professional experience did you have before enrolling in the MSTI program?

A: I worked in a Chinese law firm for about 10 months before I enrolled in NYU. At the law firm, I joined some ODI (Overseas Direct Investment) and IPO (Initial Public Offering) cases. I also provide general counseling services to local companies and communities.  

Q: Can you talk about your thesis for the MSTI?

A: My thesis project consists of two sections, a longer translation part, and a short essay related to the translation materials.  

For the translation section, I chose a news article and a scholarly paper that discusses the relevant translation strategies mentioned in that news article as my translation materials. The news article describes an incident in which substantial revisions have been made to the English translation of a famous Chinese science fiction novel, The Three-Body Problem. In that news article, the decision to translate the novel in this way is attributed to the fact that the translator, who is also the editor, is a feminist. More details are provided in the scholarly paper I translated. Lu Xiaofei, the author of the scholarly paper, explains that the translation strategy adopted by the translators is feminist translation theory, and she analyzes the difference between the translations and the original text of The Three-Body Problem.  

The essay section is also divided into two parts. One part focuses on the problems I encountered during my translation process, and the other is my understanding of the feminist translation theory and its influence on the English translation of The Three-Body Problem.

Q: What were your biggest takeaways from the experience working on your thesis?

A: I think it was the experience that I can put something I want to learn more about -- feminism into what I was studying -- translation theory. I never thought that feminism can be combined with translation study. Faithfulness has always been an important point being reinforced by professors, classmates, and other translators. Though being creative is also a bullet point on a translator’s notebook, it is controversial in real translation practice. I am very grateful to learn this feminism translation theory with professors from MSTI during my thesis.

Q: What is your job? And how did you find it after graduating?

A: I am now working as a legal admin in an American gaming company in their Shanghai office. I did not expect that I could find my job in a short time after I came back to China. I flew back to China in early August and finished my 14-day quarantine at the end of that month. I was not determined to find a job very soon after the quarantine, because I wanted to spend some time with my family first. Then in September, I got a phone call from a headhunter and was told that there was a job that fits me very much. So I took 4 rounds of interviews within a week and finally got the job. I took another 14 days of self quarantine as required by the company and got onboard in October.  

Q: What do you like most about your job? In what ways is it a good fit for you in terms of your interests and skills?

I was already a fan of this gaming company before I joined! So it was like a dream come true! To be honest, being in that company and having the first-hand information on the games I played since I was a kid is the part I most like. For this job, I can not only use my legal knowledge learned from my law school and past law firm experience for legal practice, but also with my new knowledge learned from MSTI for legal translation.  

Q: In what ways has your graduate degree prepared you for your current role, or for the job market more generally?

The job description of my current role clearly stated that they want a candidate who has legal background and with knowledge in legal translation. I believe MSTI’s courses, especially legal translation courses, have helped me a lot when being interviewed. I mentioned what I did in my legal translation courses and my self-development course, which was also legal related, on my resume. I think that resume helped a lot.

Q: Do you have any advice for MSTI students? Anything else you’d like to share?

I would like to tell future MSTI students that don’t be afraid or hesitate to seek help from your professors, advisors, tutors, or mentors from SPS. I had plenty of ideas for my thesis project, and our program director was so nice to help through the whole process to finalize an idea. I was so worried and anxious about finding a job, and our career coach for MSTI was so nice to help me revise my resume and cover letter again and again. I was curious about the real legal translation practice in the U.S. translation industry and legal industry, and our professors are all very nice to tell me, guide me, and study together with me. So, do not hesitate to speak out your ideas or be afraid to seek help from others.

A translation and interpreting degree can help you to take charge of your career, whether you are new to the field or already working in the language professions. Apply for CALA’s newly renamed MS in Translation & Interpreting, a fully online, 36-credit graduate program.

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