This post was written by Charlie Walker, who was an intern at Global Lingo’s Professional Writers office in London.
When I think of work experience, I tend to picture myself making tea for grumpy businessmen and aimlessly spinning around on office chairs. So, when I ambled sheepishly towards the Global Lingo office on Monday morning, I was armed with nothing but a pen, a KitKat and my rather limited seventeen-year-old vocabulary, not knowing what to expect. However, as I was greeted with smiling faces and an essential demonstration of the coffee machine upon my arrival, I knew I’d be spending the week in capable (and exceptionally dexterous) hands.
The first thing I noticed about the Global Lingo team was their impossibly fast typing; I reckon if you converted the team’s combined WPM score into metres, you could probably wrap it around the earth twice. There is a constant, rainy pitter-patter of keyboards voicing the workload; a delicate drizzle for a light morning of writing, suddenly interrupted by a typhoon of two-hour turnarounds. The workload is unpredictable and sporadic; there is a constant air of anticipation.
In all honesty, I wasn’t entirely sure what transcription actually was at the beginning. It can’t be that difficult to write down people’s speech, surely? Needless to say, my complacency withered within seconds of my first assignment; I had not anticipated the stutters of impromptu speech, the cryptic accents, the mysterious locations, the hazy sound quality. After three hours of floundering through twelve minutes of audio, I began to acknowledge the prowess of corporate writing.
My next challenge was minute-taking. The exercise was intense; where transcription is limited to verbatim text, minute-taking requires an additional degree of common sense, basic comprehension and – more than anything else – stamina. If deciphering business jargon, engaging with context and keeping track of the innumerable names already seems like a hefty task, taking down vital details before the conversation changes becomes a mad frenzy. Maybe I just need to get out more, but I quite enjoyed the adrenalin rush.
Much to my relief, the editing assignment I was given was considerably less frantic. Global Lingo’s writers are a talented bunch, so my job was to merely check that the transcription was consistent with the company’s Style Guide. Although the time restraints are still tight, the real pressure lies in perfecting the document and ensuring that no typo goes unmissed.
Finally, on the last day, I was given a combination of editing, transcription and minute-taking as a final test. I was pleased to find that despite feeling overwhelmed at the beginning of the week, the practice had paid off and I felt comfortable enough to revel in the tasks I was given. Nevertheless, however much improvement I had made over the week, it was clear to me that you just can’t match the expertise of the Global Lingo professionals. It seems that the art of transcription and minute-taking is possibly undervalued, but I was hugely impressed by the work I’d seen and felt encouraged to consider freelancing with the company in the future.
Overall, the week was challenging, interesting and a valuable insight into the world of work. The atmosphere in the office was always a perfect balance of professionalism and camaraderie, and I felt welcomed and inspired by everyone in the team. I learnt the importance of having a good rapport with colleagues, drinking lots of caffeine and, above all, being passionate about what you do. Thank you to the Global Lingo team for a brilliant week!