June 22, 2023

PALA Faculty Spotlight: Barbara Inge Karsch, MS in Translation & Interpreting

Barbara Inge Karsch is the owner of BIK Terminology, a terminology consultancy and training company, and an adjunct associate professor at the NYU SPS Center for Publishing and Applied Liberal Arts (PALA), where she teaches in the MS in Translation & Interpreting program. Barbara joined us to discuss her experience as a terminologist and her enthusiasm for sharing her expertise with students.

Tell us about your professional background.
I have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in translation and interpretation for German (A language), English (B language), and French (C language). For the last 25 years, I have worked almost exclusively as a terminologist, terminology consultant, and trainer. Terminology management is a specialty within technical communications. Initially, I worked in-house for JD Edwards/Oracle and Microsoft. For the last 13 years as consultant, I have had engagements with language service providers, large companies, such as Intel, Facebook, and Intuit, and governmental organizations, including the EU Council of Ministers and the FBI.

As a terminologist, what makes you passionate about teaching?
When I work with my clients, I see what skills are missing on the market. It becomes clear that we must educate others to fill these gaps. I see the industry's needs firsthand, and it is rewarding to work with students to address those needs.

I love working with people, and find it motivating to help people grow. A student may experience growth in technical understanding of a particular best practice or principle, but there is also the understanding of oneself as a human being. How do I best learn? What are my strengths and weaknesses? Do I dare reach out and ask for support? There is so much growth happening in a classroom, and I get to observe and support it.

In what ways do you find globalization has impacted your industry?
Today, no translator or interpreter can make it without solid computer and outstanding internet research skills. While globalization and concurrent technological advances changed our working methods, they also increased demand for our work in ways nobody could foresee when I first entered the field. Demand increased so much that there were not enough language professionals to fill the need. More technology was necessary, so artificial intelligence—initially in the form of machine translation—came about.

Are there any overarching concepts or principles that you try to convey to your students in order to better equip them for careers in the field?
Let me pick one that is not specific to my field of specialization: strive for excellence. There are many obstacles that stand in the way of doing a job well. If you give it your all, correct what didn’t work, and deliver your projects on time, clients will be pleased. Pride in our work must not be underestimated. It is a form of self-care that creates win-win situations for us professionally and personally. As a philosophy-professor friend put it, "That is not something that artificial intelligence will take away any time soon."

Why do you think a graduate degree is so critical to professionals in translation and interpreting?
Computer technology continues to evolve. We must stay abreast of developments. If we fall too far behind, our productivity suffers, which can have financial consequences. Incidentally, in my fall course, Translation in Science and Technology, we practice just that: the flow of a translation project supported by technology. If technology is not your cup of tea (yet), come practice with me.

We also need to stay up-to-date on new concepts our clients hire us to convey. They should always pique our curiosity; if they become repetitive and boring, seek a subject area that does. There is no shortage of options. Take care of yourself and your professional skills, and your initial investment here at NYU will last a lifetime.

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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