March 24, 2023

Working Every Day: My Career as a Freelance Translator

The MS in Translation and Interpreting program invited Mika Kodama-Douglas, a professional translator with with an almost three-decades-long career in the freelance translation industry, to speak to NYU SPS students about how to embark on a sustainable and rewarding career.

As a successful freelance translator, Mika offered our community actionable tips of the trade. Her first tip was to prioritize your physical and mental health: “Building in an exercise habit within your personal schedule can make a big difference and helps to clear your mind.” Her second tip was to understand the value of time management: “Know which tasks to prioritize when handling multiple projects simultaneously; understand your limits and don’t overwork yourself.”  Her final tip was to be professional: “Being nice really helps. Deadlines are important, but so is timely communication. Clarify your availability and interests in a timely manner, if you’re working with agencies.”

For the last two decades, Mika has helped many emerging translators launch successful remote/home-based careers. She offered the following pointers:

  1. Go to or a similar portal to find your language pair 

  2. Create a good CV and send it to many agencies with good ratings

  3. Take lots of trials (and do not feel bad when you do not pass!)

  4. Do your VERY BEST when you get a job

  5. Communicate with agencies often and let them know when you’re available 

  6. Impress agencies with your professionalism…. then ask for a raise!

Born in the countryside of Japan–a small town named Saiki, Oita–Mika reflected back on her first cross-cultural experience as a study abroad student at Nanjing University in China. After starting a family, Mika moved from Denver, Colorado to Chiang Mai, Thailand with her husband and three children, then back to resettle in Denver. She emphasized that it was her career as a freelance translator that made balancing work and family obligations possible: “You have the freedom to travel and explore the world, while pursuing employment opportunities and meeting the needs of your family.”



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 PALA’s MS in Translation & Interpreting, a fully online, 36-credit graduate program.

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