Successful job seekers are people with technical skills, effective communication abilities, are adaptable, honest, have reputations as hard workers and ones who work well with others. Every job exerts a certain amount of pressure to be productive, so it is prudent for potential employees to take a careful look at the work environment they want to join and think about their own work habits.
Valentina Volpi from Italy describes how she was successful in landing a remote job with OnTheGoSystems.
First, I would like to tell you something about myself. Perhaps we have some things in common. I live in Pescara, a city on the Adriatic coast. The city is very close to the mountains and you can reach the ski slopes of Passo Lanciano in just 30 minutes. The city is divided in two by the Fiume Pescara The historic city center is located on the south bank and the City Hall and Government Buildings overlooking the Piazza Italia are on the north bank.
Spanning the river is a beautiful bridge for cyclists and pedestrians with an amazing view of the sea and the fishing boats entering and leaving the harbor. Living so close to a fishing community and with dozens of fish restaurants to choose from, I have to admit that I don’t like fish at all!
I was born and raised in Rome, which I think shaped my appreciation for art in general. I moved to Pescara about 5 years ago to live with my boyfriend, but my parents and younger brother, Valerio, still live in Rome. It’s great having a base in Rome whenever we visit the city.
Growing up I was a bit of a tomboy and played sports like soccer and I was in a competitive volleyball team for 8 years until I had to stop because of a knee injury. I then took up gymnastics but the discipline is hard, involving grueling hours of training and in time I felt I didn’t have the stamina anymore.
My beloved hobby was always reading. Like most children, I loved reading fairy tales and soon took the leap into fantasy literature. I remember at about 10 I read the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy in 5 days! I read comics, play video games (Japanese RPGs in particular). I used to draw, but lately, I don’t have the time or concentration for it. When I want to just rest, I usually watch some TV series with my two cats curled up beside me.
What were you doing before joining the permanent staff at OTGS?
I studied and worked as a translator. I translated a couple of novels but I specialized in software localization. I actually worked in ICanLocalize as a translator for five years. In December 2015, ICanLocalize was looking for staff in the European time zone. I didn’t know what to expect to be honest. I had interviews with Laura and Ornela and I thought, “Well, whatever happens, it was nice meeting them”. So I tried to remain calm and didn’t think too much about it while waiting for an answer. It was January and I remember I was traveling when I received the email with the formal invitation to join.
And what is your role in the company?
I would say I have 4 roles.
Project manager: ICanLocalize is a translation agency. Our clients come to us to make sure we find the right translators for them and that their material will be completed on time. This requires coordinating with the translators, distributing the work, checking its progress and keeping in touch with the client to make sure everything goes smoothly. We often create the projects calculating the quotes (CAT tools and other software help greatly here), contact the translators and assign them for the clients.
Support: Roughly speaking, there are two types of support activities. Support with project management (all the activities above), and technical support. Technical support often includes checking and fixing files. Especially with resource files containing strings, since there are many formats. There may be encoding issues, wrong formats or structures. Some basic technical knowledge of file formats and text editing certainly help in these cases. Technical support is often related to WPML users: some just need information or instructions, while others need help to download and display the translations correctly. Good knowledge of WPML and WordPress is important in these cases.
Sales and marketing activities: We offer our services and answer to pre-sales questions, calculate quotes, write and publish blog posts, newsletters, tutorials. I also help maintain the ICL websites.
Administrative and development tasks: most of the work is organized in YouTrack. As supporters, we work with the system daily and report any issues or feedback to improve it.
Handling 4 roles simultaneously takes some organizing! What other qualifications are needed?
I think the most important skills is to be able to communicate well. You need to talk to clients, translators, colleagues… and everyone will have different needs and levels of knowledge. It’s hard to “switch gears” during the day and address each individual in the most appropriate way. It’s especially hard with users (both clients and translators) because most of the time you don’t really know them. You need to remain polite and caring, even if they are stressed because things aren’t working as they expected. You need to be patient, effective and as fast as possible. As a project manager, you need to understand your clients’ needs and meet them… or make them understand what’s realistically possible and explain complicated things in a simpler way. It has helped me greatly that I was a freelance translator before. I have a good idea of the translation industry and market. I know the software used, the tools and the most common problems. This also aids me to help other translators who are sometimes stuck or are less tech-savvy.
Which teams or employees do you work closely with?
I work closely every day with Ornela, Irina and Warren of the ICL team. I also talk daily with Laura. Since ICanLocalize provides translations for other teams, I am frequently in touch with Andreas and Dario helping them manage the WPML and Toolset translation projects. Whenever we need WPML support for our clients, I also work with Ahmed, Otto and Sumit.
To stay focused, how do you plan your day?
I am not a morning person; I start my day slowly … While I drink some coffee, I start reading the emails to see if there are urgent notifications. Then I manage the support and give priority to users’ tickets or internal activities which are waiting for my feedback. This usually takes my whole morning. I try to have the support tasks all handled by the afternoon. There are always returning support tickets or email replies to handle, but in general, if there aren’t emergencies in the last couple hours of my shift I tend to focus on less stressful administrative and development tasks like writing.
Working remotely presents many challenges. Do the advantages compensate?
The translation market is a bit volatile. You have quiet periods and then sudden influxes of new projects. ICL has a small staff and there are moments when it is easy to feel overwhelmed. However, we know each other well, so we can always distribute the tasks according to our strong points. The work can be stressful, especially when you are juggling several support tickets with different issues, but it is also rewarding when a problem is finally solved.
Sometimes I need to work extra in order to complete a new project. It is a disappointment if eventually that project is put on hold, but nevertheless, I still find satisfaction in helping our clients with some small improvements.
Last year in ICL was a bit of a roller coaster. I hope things settle down and we can all work more calmly to make ICL better. This will also help my plan to finally learn how to stop working when my shift ends :D
Having said this, the advantages of working remotely with OTGS far outweigh the challenges of working from home. I like the freedom of organizing my time during the day. Working from home also means that even when I work late I don’t have to sacrifice quality time with my family.
I am also extremely lucky to have nice colleagues. Even if sometimes we have complicated situations and we are all tired, I always strive to do my best exactly because I like my work and the people I work with. Since the team is so small, we help each other any way we can with work but also on a personal level. We are true friends!
Thank you, Valentina, for giving us the inside story and inviting us into your work environment.
Having sound technical skills, being able to work productively under reasonable pressure and communicating well with colleagues and clients alike are qualities appreciated by every employer and certainly worthwhile goals for all to reach for.
If you match the above requirements and want to work in a remote environment where you have the freedom to choose where and how you work, check out our OnTheGoSystems jobs page and apply now!