Richard Rakowitz Discusses His Role As a Professional Editor and Translator

Mr. Richard Rakowitz is an experienced linguist, editor, and translator. Having grown up in New York City, he attended Queen’s College, where he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in History.

Realizing his passion for languages, he enrolled at the University of Strasbourg for German Linguistics and studied German Historical Documents from the medieval era to the Cold War. His academic pursuits eventually led him to Italy, where he earned a linguistic degree from the University of Pavia. 

Armed with multiple languages and positive experiences living abroad, Mr. Rakowitz became a translator and editor. While spending time in China, he picked up his first overseas client. From there, he acquired clients from around the world, and has translated books, manuals, and marketing materials expertly into English, German, Italian, Spanish, and Chinese. As an expert in his field, he continues to learn the nuances of language and holds himself to a high standard of excellence. 

When he’s not working hard, Mr. Rakowitz enjoys cycling, running, photography, and reading. He has a passion for history and art history books and looks forward to reading more on archaeology. 

What do you currently do at your company?

Typically, I translate books and manuals for my clients. While they cover various niches, languages, and industries, they usually request translations for book publications. One unique project I’m currently working on is with one of my former German professors on a project dealing with archaeology. It’s truly fascinating to dive into this area of history and archaeology. 

What was the inspiration behind your business?

When one goes to a foreign country, they are completely immersed into a new culture and language. It’s always difficult, and sometimes embarrassing when you want to try to communicate. I noticed this early on when I was in China working with my clients. I was apprehensive at first to speak in Chinese because it was different for my Chinese clients to hear a foreigner speak their language and/or dialect. I turned that shyness into something I enjoyed because I overcame it. 

I work to ensure that my prospective clients are in good hands and never need to worry about making language related mistakes. The most important thing about communicating is getting your point across. With this in mind, it is also important to be patient with someone who may not understand everything that is being said either verbally or on paper. I truly enjoy helping people through communication, editing, translating, or writing, in a timely fashion. It’s crucial to be patient with each of the clients as you’re discussing the project.

What defines your way of doing business?

I approach each client and each task separately. Every client has his/her specific needs, which in turn, dictates the task that needs to be completed. It’s about meeting their needs in a timely, efficient manner, and remaining focused on meeting their needs. This means that each project might need a different approach so there is no standardized formula. 

What keys to being productive can you share?

Whether I’m translating marketing materials, translating or editing a project, or translating a book, it’s most important to me that I am able to communicate to my clients the progress that is being made on their specific assignment. Being dedicated to providing quality results to clients keeps productivity steady. 

Seeing the satisfaction on my clients’ faces is the most important thing to me. Also from a translation standpoint, it’s effort, and being efficient. When I’m editing something, I’m not just editing it for the sake of the client, I’m doing whatever possible to ensure that the final product is clearly understood and is professional, whatever language is used for translation for the target audience. 

That’s how I view productivity. It’s about time. It’s about effort. It’s about open communication, constant communication, and meeting my client’s needs in a timely fashion.

Tell us one long-term goal in your career.

Ever since COVID paralyzed the world around us, I haven’t looked at long-term goals. I look at everything from a day-to-day standpoint. Everything can completely change. One lesson that I’ve learned while working as a freelance translator is being flexible with your schedule and being able to adapt to the situation at-hand. That’s my long-term goal. It’s about being able to adapt, being able to meet the needs of my clients and to acquire more clients over the years.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the course of your career?

The most valuable lesson is being open-minded. This really applies to everything from a change in time frame for a project, to suggestions or vocabulary expansion. The project may be a Word-based task, or a new technical manual with new terms and language skills that need to be developed. Every client is different, every project is different, so it is important to be open-minded. It’s about adapting to changes. That’s part of the challenge, and that’s something that I really take great pride in on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

What advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed in your field?

Be open to criticism, and maybe change things here and there, whether it’s a technical term or if it is sentence structure, or maybe you’re translating something, and it doesn’t sound right in their eyes. Being open-minded, and embracing every sort of challenge and obstacle along the way. In the end, if you’re able to overcome those obstacles, that’s the greatest accomplishment. Meeting your client’s needs is the greatest satisfaction that you can obtain from this field/business. 

How do you maintain a solid work life balance? 

By maintaining open communication with my family, friends, and clients. I’m able to keep pace with everything.This includes communicating with my clients about his/her project, or taking time to relax. It is important to express to my clients how the project is progressing and when their specific requests are completed. It is also essential to know when to break away from the work and take time to refresh. Having an open-line of communication with my clients makes life a lot easier with little to no stress. 

What is one piece of technology that helps you the most in your daily routine?

Video communication software, such as Zoom or Skype, is the most dependent upon technology recently. Email would be the next technology used consistently. 

Who has been a role model to you and why?

Sir Winston Churchill once said, “Never give in! Never give in! Never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” 

He is a historical figure, communicator, and statesman that I truly admire. It’s also something I strive to adhere to and fulfill on a daily basis. When there are obstacles, there’s always a bright light at the end, and there is potential growth in every single outcome. The bottom line is to stick with it throughout. 

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

Embrace challenges and stand by one’s convictions. Doing this with everything in life resonates successfully from one situation or another.