October 11, 2017

Misconceptions of Language Services

Language services encompasses areas of speaking (interpretation) and writing (translation). Clients have come to Authentic Journeys for help in both areas of language, especially when looking at translating and interpreting differences between different Global Englishes (with focus on Indian and American English). 

Recently, I was able to attend a national symposium in the U.S. on Cross-Cultural Communication in relation to translation and interpretation. Near the end of the session, the panelists were asked the following question: 

What are misconceptions new clients have of language services? 
The panelists who came from both interpretation and translation backgrounds shared the following answers: 
  • Clients want one-to-one translation. While that may be easier to do for words standing on their own (as pictured to the right), this is not always true for written copy. As language is subjective by nature, it’s not always possible or realistic to do a one to one translation. 
  • While translators can translate, due to the complexity and specificity of the messages, subject matter experts are also often needed in addition to translators.
  • Many assume one-to-one or real-time language services are needed only for those new to the U.S. or to the [English] language, but this is not true. Professionals that have learned English in school in their home countries or even have spoken English in their home countries and have lived in the U.S. up to 15 years often need to build their context in American English.
  • Just because a translator knows how to translate the two languages, doesn’t mean he or she knows the subject area or the industry-specific jargon. This is why a subject matter expert (SME) is so critical.
  • Especially when it comes to translating or interpreting marketing materials, many clients forget the need to localize the content to the target market. 

How this relates to Authentic Journeys
While Authentic Journeys works only with different versions of English, Authentic Journeys deals with the above mentioned misconceptions in addition to: 
  • While the coders or engineers who created the software may be the subject matter expert, they often do need to fine tune their messages in both spoken and written English to get it to look and sound good. In some cases, the original writers may need to work with the translators in a live environment to build more context for the translator, especially if the translator is not also a subject matter expert on that technology, software, or industry.
  • Many clients Authentic Journeys has worked with have a better track record with writing business messages in English, but taking that same message and making it more conversational or causal becomes a challenge (this is true for spoken or written English). 
  • Because much of the software or marketing is targeting American clients, the English will need to be translated from Indian English to American English (or British to American English). These translations may require the help of a subject matter expert as well as grammar and language experts depending on the quality of the initial copy.
  • Translation has to do with language, not graphic design, website optimization or imagery. Though all of these are important for creating the entire marketing messages, language experts are not marketing, SEO, website optimization, graphic design, online video, or marketing experts. 
  • We need to identify who is reading the messages and their understanding of the jargon. If the message is being written for industry leaders, the language could possibly be more technical and industry specific. However, if it is marketing material for the general public who may not be aware of industry or technical jargon, it’s important to know how to translate the jargon into everyday English.
  • Translating copy is not the same as proofreading and grammar checking. After translating copy, a proofreader or grammar expert may be required to fine-tune the technical aspects of the language. Even when looking at translating between different forms of English, grammar rules may not always be the same. A case in point is punctuation rules between American English and British English
  • To facilitate understanding in any live context, interpretation on the part of a listener can be facilitated when the speaker's English is clear, void of phrases, idioms, slang and speed. Read more about this here

Authentic Journeys has experience translating:
  • Translating website content from Indian English to American English
  • Brochures, marketing materials, and video copy
  • Indian English into American English in a variety of written business communications 
  • Tech terms into ordinary English (F1 help type guides for non-techie people) 
  • Translating the same idiom into two different Englishes (see this example

Authentic Journeys has experience interpreting:
  • Conversations in global team meetings
  • Situations that happen in face-to-face encounters
  • Body language and paralanguage context
  • American English idioms into conversational English 
  • Tips on responding to idioms 
  • Some Indian English idioms into English Americans can understand
Keep in mind that while Authentic Journeys can provide translation services as mentioned above- Authentic Journeys real focus is on building the communication skills of your client facing global team members to craft their own messages in written and spoken English so they can confidently handle the interactions on their own. This often takes place in 1 to 1 training sessions virtually (over Skype, Hangouts or other VOIP type program) or in person whenever possible. 

If you have any questions or would like to talk about a project you have in the pipeline that we may be able to help out with, contact us today

**Photo, creative commons, Marina del Castell, flickr.

Related Posts: 
Difference between Slang, Buzzwords, Corporate and Industry Jargon 
Common Idioms Americans use to end meetings (podcast) 
Working Local but Thinking Global - Building Context on Global Teams (Video / Keynote Talk) 

October 6, 2017

How To Land A Job When in College

University Career Centers are offering a wide range of innovative programs to help students land their first job or internship. Being in India the last 6 years, I have read about these inspiring programs from abroad. Finally, recently, I was able to attend on the University of Utah Campus hosted by the Career and Professional Development Center.  

Networking Sucks: But You Don’t Have To! 
Building the confidence of students to get out, make small talk and introduce themselves to employers at job fairs was the focus and main goal of this two hour session. And, it was executed brilliantly. 


The food section! I forgot to mention- hummus!!
Coming from a background of corporate training, I was impressed by the instructional design of the program- everything from the information sharing to small talk interaction to mock employer meetings was amazing. But, more than that, since it was a college event, the free food, which is a staple of such events was integrated in a way that was natural to the professional meet and greet scenario. Pizza was not part of the menu, but more ‘grown up’ foods such as antipasti, quinoa salad, wraps and mocktails. They even set up the mocktail section like a bar where students could order their mocktail, and the staff made it fresh with fruits, juices and sodas. While I feel the mocktails were a hit, I feel the college students were not yet ready for the grown-up foods because I feel they were barely touched. But, this is a good context building experience for them to understand what kind of foods would be served at professional networking sessions. And, it’s rarely pizza! 

Making Small Talk 
The room was set up with several tables with topics like “Football and Soccer,” “Game of Thrones” and a few others I can’t remember. I actually ended up sitting at the “Football and Soccer” table in hopes of challenging myself to talk about a topic I knew nothing about (knowing how difficult this is for most of the people I have worked with in the past, I can relate). It turned out that the few other international students and domestic students who decided to sit here at this table also had no clue about [American] football, though some did know about [international football] soccer. Though we briefly talked about that, we talked about a range of other related topics. I feel the Game of Thrones table had a lively conversation about the actual topic, though I did not visit that table. 

Myths of Networking 
After 30 minutes of small talk, the facilitators shared information with us on the myths of networking and tips to introduce ourselves to potential employers. This section was lecture heavy, but short, sweet and to the point. 

Some of they myths discussed include: 
  • The purpose of networking is to get a job
  • Networking only takes place in professional settings
  • People who network are extroverts
  • Networking is awkward and unnatural 
While most of us in the audience agreed that networking felt unnatural, when we started to think of it more as a conversation, some of us eased up.

I would like to add a myth that may have been discussed, but maybe not directly: Networking is not always a one time event.

In my experience, since networking is nothing but creating, building and nurturing relationships over a period of time, networking with anyone can be looked at as being on a continuum. Just like some friendships, they can go on steady for many years or, in other cases, go on for a time, go on a break, and start back up sometime in the future. I guess this comes more from experience, networking over a long period of time (a few decades, in my case). 

Initiating Conversation with Recruiters 
The facilitators shared a script on how to introduce ourselves to recruiters at job fairs. While they said, this is a helpful guide, they did stress not to stick strictly to the script, but to practice and personalize it to one’s conversational style and situation. This all comes with a lot of practice, of course. So, in this part of the session, the facilitators had the participants download the career fair app that listed the employers for upcoming career fairs on campus to research a few employers. The six tables that were used for small talk topics were converted into ‘employer tables.’ Students crafted their introductions and practiced them with student volunteers who role played the employer. I felt the student volunteers that I had the pleasure to interact with were very insightful and skilled in these interactions and gave some good tips and advice to the students practicing the mock recruiter interactions.

I attended this event as a community partner/volunteer. It was really fun and enlightening to interact with such ambitious students. I hope to get more chances to participate in such programs in the near future. May all the students who had the chance to participate in this event have much success! 

Related Posts: 
Three tips to Americanize your resume
15 Out of the Box Networking Strategies 
How to switch from small talk to professional discussions 
Sports Idioms that can be used in business conversations 

October 2, 2017

Three Tips to Americanize Your Resume

Get your resume reviewed with more ease by recruiters with these three formatting tips. (Watch and read below the video for more information.)  


Video: Americanize Your Resume 
The video will summarize the tips you will read in this post.

Tip 1: Format Your Contact Information in an American Style 
While it is important to write your entire address on a job application, the current trend is to leave the entire address off of your resume. Let’s look at how American addresses are typically written (on postal envelopes or even in job applications, for example), then how we can write it (to save space) on a resume. 
Format your resume to be ready for career and job fairs.

Writing an Address on a Piece of Mail: 
House or Building Number Street Name Apt #
City, State Zip

Some Example Addresses: 
Jane Doe
700 Main Street Apt. #222
Anytown, Virginia 33993 

George Smith 
499 Pansy Lane 
Anytown, Washington 88110 


Notes:
  • If you live in a house, and not an apartment, do not add an apartment number
  • Follow the capitalization and punctuation rules as noted above.
  • The first letter of all words must be capitalized.
  • Some American addresses have a nine digit zip code (ex. 33993-9900). It is not necessary to remember or note these last digits on your job application.
  • State names can be abbreviated to two letters (see a list of state abbreviations here). If it is abbreviated, each letter has to be capitalized (Virginia, VA).

Noting Phone Numbers and E-mail IDs:
Phone numbers should be written in this format:
XXX-XXX-XXXX or (XXX) XXX-XXXX
With numbers added:
333-555-2342 or (333) 555-2342

E-mail IDs are to be noted like this:
username@domain.com
With information added:
janedoe@website.com

How to Write Contact Information on a Resume
Writing a full address on a resume, according to Yolanda Owens, Career Coach, Resume Writer and Founder of CareerSensei Consulting, is outdated. There is no need to write a full address on a resume. For a more modern resume header, which takes up much less space and makes it easier for recruiters to browse, try this: 


First Name Last Name
Phone | E-mail | Website (optional)

Jane Doe
(333) 555-2342 | janedoe@website.com | http://www.website.com

Note: Some list their LinkedIn or their online personal professional profile as a website link, if available. This is optional, so it is not needed.

The header can be left justified on the page, or centered depending on your style.

Tip 2: Note Your Job/Professional Experience in American Terminology
Sometimes, depending on your industry or your educational qualifications, terminology may differ between countries. If possible reach out to an American career coach or a friend or colleague living in the United States to ask if the terminology in the U.S. is different. If the terminology differs, consider changing the terminology to American English to make it easier and quicker to understand by the American recruiter.

Some Examples May Include:
Radio Station (Venezuela): Taxi Dispatcher (USA)
Plus 2 (India): High School Diploma (USA)

Feel free to share more examples in the comment section below.

Tip 3: What Not to Put on Your Resume - Personal Details

When Applying to Jobs in the U.S. Do Not Add This Information to Your Resume: 
  • Birth date 
  • Age 
  • Martial Status/Children 
  • Religion 
  • Citizenship 
  • Race 
  • Family Details / Father's Name
  • Other Personal Details 
  • References 
  • Declaration

Notes:
  1. Salary information may be required for resumes for U.S. government jobs. Salary information should not be written on resumes for any other position.
  2. Dates, as in the month and year, may be written on a resume to note job start and end dates. If there is any need to write out the month, date and year of a date, write the month out as a three letter abbreviation to assure there is no confusion between the month and year as Americans tend to write the month first, while other cultures write the date first. For example, in the image above, the date is written as 4-3-1987. Americans read this as April 3, where as other cultures may read this as March 4. 

While this information is not to be written on the resume, it may be required on a job application. The job application is a separate paper or online form that will require applicants to list their employment history, employer contacts, references, and some personal details as listed above. Some of those details may be optional or required depending on the employer application process. If they are optional, you do not need to fill it in.

**Any contact information detailed in this post was created for purposes of this post. Any likeness to real information is purely coincidental.
** Photo of woman courtesy of Illinois Springfield, creative commons at Flickr.

We hope these tips will help you to fine tune your resume when applying for jobs in the U.S. If you’d like more help or a personalized one on one session for a resume review, contact: 


Related Posts: 
Dos and Don'ts for Resume E-mail Attachments 
Tips for Interviewing with U.K. and U.S. Recruiters (Video Tutorials)   

September 15, 2017

How to Clean Your Bathroom – Specifically Bathtubs in the U.S.

It’s funny what living abroad does to you. It can make you forget very ordinary things you used to do without even thinking about it before you lived outside your own country. For me, one of the things living in India made me forget was how to clean the bathtub. Hence, I heard myself asking my family and friends….

“How do I clean my bathtub?” 

I am sure my American family and friends found this question coming from me very strange. After a silence and stunned looks, I said, “See for the last six years in India, we did not have a bathtub, nor did we even clean the bathroom because we had a maid.” (Maids are more common in India, and more affordable, as well.) 

The advice I got from them was very useful. I was able to easily scrub off the soap scum, and the tub was so shiny I could almost see my reflection in it. So, I decided I should share this with my readers (Although I know this is off the normal topics of this blog, it is important to know to live a comfortable life in the U.S.). I know many may find this useful, because of the more than 1,500 IT professionals we have readied for life in the U.S., many enjoyed the lively discussions we would have about the differences in public restrooms and bathrooms especially between the U.S. and India. It’s one thing to know how to use the space safely and comfortably, but once living in it for sometime, we also need to know how to clean it.

So, while I am no cleaning expert, I am going to share the few tips I learned, applied and found some success with in cleaning the bathtub for the first time (after a long time) in the U.S.

A Good Shower Curtain
Bathroom in model apartment
in the U.S. with a double layered
shower curtain.
In India, it’s not [as] common to hang a shower curtain in the open bathroom. But, in the U.S. a shower curtain is necessary to keep water inside the tub. Unlike Indian bathrooms, there are no drains on the floor, so if water gets on the floor, it needs to be mopped up. It can also ruin or damage the floor and cause leaks. This can turn into a costly proposition to fix. So, one way of keeping water off the floor is having a good shower curtain (along with a few bath mats on the floor to step on when getting out of the shower).

Things I like to look for in a shower curtain 
  • Double layered
    I always liked to get shower curtain with an inner and outer portion. Though they are more expensive, this is double protection from keeping water inside the tub, and off the floor. This can be done by buying a shower curtain and a liner separately or a shower curtain that already has the two stitched together. That being said, a shower curtain needs to be hung on a rod above a bathtub. When renting the place, assure there is a curtain rod above the bathtub. If it is not there, the landlord must typically provide it. 
  • Machine Washable 
    Hookless shower curtain hanging
    on bathtub rod.

    Going to buy a cheap curtain at the dollar store will be ok for a few days or weeks, but these curtains are hard to keep clean in my opinion and probably look as cheap as they cost. Also they can’t typically be washed in a machine. Going for a fabric, double layered one makes life easy when it comes to cleaning (much easier and quicker to get soap scum off than by scrubbing by hand). They can typically be washed in a washing machine on gentle setting with cool water. To dry it, I just hang it back up in the bathroom, rather than drying it in the dryer. 
  • Hookless
    I love the newer hookless shower curtains. Maybe I never noticed these six years ago, but these hookless curtains really make life easy. You don’t need to buy hooks or fiddle with taking off the hooks or putting them back on when washing the curtain. 

Of course, when adding up all these features in a shower curtain- double layer (with a liner) and being hookless and hopefully good looking, the price tag does increase to $40-$60 depending on the length. I will recommend the one we purchased (Authentic Journeys is not receiving any revenue from these brands or retailers.) Check out the Hookless shower curtains from Bed, Bath and Beyond. I am very happy with the one we got. Very easy to put up, take down, and wash. Here’s a video on how it goes up. 


Keeping the Bathtub/Shower Clean on a Daily Basis 
Daily, after bathing, I will tidy up the bathtub because hair and other debris does land in the tub somehow. So, if our bathtub had a detachable shower head with a spray on it, I’d use that. However, it doesn’t, so I use an old yogurt cup to fill with water, and throw it over various parts of the tub to rinse it off. I also pick up the soap and shampoo bottles to clean or rinse around and under them, as hair and other debris get stuck there. After rinsing it with water, I spray as shower spray, like the one pictured to the right. This you can get cheaply at the Dollar Store or Big Lots. I spray this all over the inside of the tub area- not just the tub, but the tub walls, etc. I just spray it and let it sit there, I do not wipe it off.

Once a Week Cleaning 
Where I was really getting stuck was trying to figure out how to get the soap scum off. It was building up around the drain and also along where a water line may be when some water builds up as we are showering. I also did not want to buy harsh chemicals because if and when possible I prefer to be more ‘green.’ I also did not know which scrubber to use.

I got some good advice – a more natural cleaning solution for the tub. I mixed some vinegar, dish soap, and baking soda together to make a paste. I then rubbed this on with a scrubber and scrubbed it a bit. After scrubbing it on, I let it sit there for 5 or 10 minutes, then I rinsed it off. Oh my! It was like a new tub. It was so easy, and so safe! Hardly any chemicals. (This works wonderfully inside the sink, also!) 

The best part is while before I start cleaning the tub and tidying up the bathroom, I put the shower curtain in the wash. By the time I am done with this process (including cleaning the toilet), the curtain is cleaned and ready to be put back up. And, the cleaning is done. 

To see someone do this in action, see the video below. (No, Americans don't dress up and put on so much make up to clean their house! I am sure she's doing this to look pretty for the camera!)


This of course is not the only way to clean a tub, but it turned out to be easy, quick and a method I want to continue with. What other ideas or tips do you have for cleaning a bathtub? 


Bonus: Pictures of bathrooms in India and the U.S. 


Bathroom in an apartment in the U.S.

Bathroom in a house in India.
Note: no shower curtain, has a water sprayer next to the toilet.

Another bathroom in a house in Kerala, India.
No shower curtain or rod, equipped with a water sprayer.
Neither bathroom shows the water geyser, though that is in many Indian bathrooms.

Other tips for daily life in the U.S. 
How to order fast food in a drive through 
How to write a check (India vs. the U.S.) 
Coins and money in the U.S. 

August 28, 2017

How to Spend Labor Day Weekend

Having lived in India between 2011-2017, Labor Day 2017 is the first Labor Day I am spending in the U.S. in a long time. Minus the fact most other countries of the world commemorate Labour Day on May 1 (rather than the first Monday of September, like in the the good 'ol U.S. of A), I am feeling a bit like a fish out of water. Here are a few things I am thinking about on my first Labor Day weekend back in the US after living the expat life abroad. 

Gas Prices 
It was reported in July that gas prices in the U.S. were at their all time lowest in 12 years. During the beginning of July we drove from New York State to Utah (about 2,500 miles one way), and were able to benefit from these jaw dropping low gas prices, in places like Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Sioux Falls, South Dakota (pictured, right). 

While gas prices do vary from region to region in the U.S., there are reports that due to Hurricane Harvey, gas prices are again on the rise. Due to the flooding in the southern parts of the U.S. where the gas refineries are, gas prices are being hit hard. In Salt Lake City, it seems the price of gas can vary up to 20 cents a gallon depending on station and locality. We were suprised when getting into the area in early July that gas prices already were about 20-30 cents more a gallon than places we were familiar with on the East Coast. Now, since Harvey, we are seeing prices range from $2.45 to $2.65, but if you go out to Park City and beyond, it can go up to $2.70. (This is for the lowest grade of gasoline, it gets more expensive with the higher grades and diesel.) 

Traffic and Driving 
Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer. In some parts of the country students have already returned to school or college, while some start back after Labor Day. We had expected the July 4th weekend traffic to be high especially since we were visiting national parks in South Dakota. While of course, South Dakota is not as densely populated as other parts of the country, we did expect more traffic than we encountered due to the fact we were driving to national parks. Apparently, according to the same article I referred to earlier in this blog, July 4th tends to be a less busy time for drivers than Labor Day. 

The one thing I am happy about in Utah is that there are few if any places to pay tolls. Unlike the East Coast, toll roads are few and far between out here. In fact, once when I was talking to to local Utah born and raised asking them about toll roads, one said to the other, "Toll roads? What is that?" That says it all!   


Where to go and what to do 
Blog author and her husband at Delicate Arch in Arches National
Park on Labor Day many years before the mad Labor Day rush.
I read on another blog that to avoid crowds and tourist traps, go to the desert instead of the beach. I can tell you living in Utah where we are all surrounded by deserts that this advice is not at all worthwhile (unless it's really off the tourist track, where rugged vehicles and adventurous spirits are much needed). I looked up staying in places like Moab (near Arches National Park - pictured, right), Zion National Park (in fact, according to the news here in Utah, Zion has been at or near capacity most of the summer) or other locales in Utah (which are all essentially deserts), and the prices are through the roof. 

Due to this, I think we will stay away from national parks because it seems the areas these parks are located in have been booked up for weeks or months in advance. And, if there are hotels available, they are extremely expensive - two or three times more expensive than on non-holiday weekends. And, for camp sites, the only ones available are the really rugged ones in BLM lands (Bureau of Land Management). Though BLM or public lands, which are widely available in Utah, are free on a first come first serve basis, they are very primitive without any facilities (yep, that means no bathrooms). 

So, since we did not plan far enough in advance, we will end up doing day hikes away from home, rather than travel to the national parks and pay through our nose for a room that otherwise may cost half or one third the price any other time of the year! 

The lesson here for us is to realize that Labor Day is a crazy time of the year for travel and to try to plan a least a month or more in advance especially if we want to go to popular locations. 

What do you plan on doing for the Labor Day weekend? What tips do you have to help others with their Labor Day weekend travel planning? 

Related Posts: