Yaiza Bethencourt Rodriguez recently completed an MA Translation, Interpreting and Subtitling in our Department of Languages and Linguistics. Yaiza recruited several fellow Essex classmates to join her in a business venture; Say It Global Translations, an alumni-led translation company. We interviewed her to find out how it all happened and what the future holds.


How was your experience at Essex studying the MA Translation, Interpreting and Subtitling?

I really enjoyed it.  It was an awesome experience although very daunting at first. I had not gone back to university since I finished my BA Media & Management at the University of Leeds in 2004. That’s after 18 years and with the age of 38! You heard right, 38! That shows that it is never too late to follow your dreams. So, as you can imagine, it was a bit scary! But it was all worth it and if I could go back in time, I would not hesitate to make the same choice again.

My MA Translation, Interpreting and Subtitling was a very thorough and practical course. It teaches everything you need within the language field (practical and theoretical) to set a step forward in the professional arena. 

The course for me was a milestone in my personal and professional life. On one hand, it did not only help me build my knowledge and confidence, but it was an overall enriching experience.  You have full and direct support from teachers throughout the whole year and you are surrounded by amazing fellow students from all over the world, making the whole academic year a unique opportunity you cannot miss. 

Tell us a bit about the Essex graduates who make up Say It Global Translations.

Behind Say It Global Translations is Francisca Garcés from Ecuador, Mayra Vieira Borges from Brazil, Giulia Memoli from Italy, Frauke Klumpp from Germany and me, Yaiza from Spain. We all met at Essex where we were studying the same degree. 

When I finished my course, I decided to set up my own company, so I launched and designed my own website with the help of a web designer. Little did I know about how hard it was to set up a business at the time! I did not have a clue of what it was about to come in the next few months.

My friend Frauke Klumpp, contacted me around March 2020 and showed a real interest in joining the business. We decided to contact our friends from University and proposed the idea of working together to set up a company. At first, there were eleven of us who had got together to work on this initiative. But, at that time, our company did not have a concrete foundation and the whole idea was still developing, there was a financial risk, so some decided to focus on a different path.

The five of us felt passionate about this project, so we stayed and worked on it alongside our full-time jobs. Learning how to juggle this project with other priorities was a real challenge.  

The Essex alumni behind Say It Global Translations

How and why did you decide to start your own translation business?

Some of us had had longer career paths than others prior to our master’s degree at Essex. This gave us more insight and experience than others about how challenging the labour market could be but ultimately it was challenging to find jobs in translation. Roles are underpaid and many of us were working in areas unrelated to our studies. It was hard and disappointing at times.

We started to talk about different ideas and how we could change this landscape. Little by little, our thoughts became ideas and ideas became our company’s philosophy and culture. We realised that what we wanted to create was very similar to what an ethical and social enterprise is. For us, it is essential not only to revive and give a different turn to business environments but put into practice a healthier working model for business and people.

I always say, “what you do not wish upon yourself, extend not to others” and my experience in life has led me here. I want to help others to have a better and quality life because people need to believe in themselves and for this, it is important to help each other and foster the same opportunities for everyone. But I want to do this whilst still doing something I’m passionate about, translation. 

What sort of translations do you work on? What’s been the most interesting one so far?

The most interesting project was thanks to Essex. One of my lecturers recommended me to a small company in Colchester which was seeking a translator and a Spanish voice over. This was my first paid job and it was really exciting because I had not done any voiceover jobs before. The business owner was so happy with the job I did that he offered me to record my first voiceover demo! It was a really cool experience.

You mentioned the importance of your business’ culture and philosophy and told us about how you planted trees as part of a marketing campaign.

Yes, our company follows a social and community business model which supports other companies, ventures and projects which are directly participating and contributing to have a positive impact on people, animals and the planet. We care about the planet and we want to support and invest in organisations that support these good causes as much as possible. It is important to us to be a community that works for a purpose. 

You’re working with Essex Startups – what sort of support have you been given?

Essex Startups gave us the opportunity to apply for a grant and have also offered their support and guidance to build our business plan. Hopefully they will help us to present our business project to other entrepreneurs who could join us as partners or sponsors which will be a great next step for the company.

What are the goals for Say It Global Translations?

Say It Global Translations aims to build a multilingual international team and a network of professional linguists through which a wide range of language services offered on a global scale. Our linguists will be able to work for a purpose, with projects which contribute to nature, environment, animals and the whole world. 

One of the objectives of the organisation is to address the growing problem of low pay and the decreasing rates within the translation market which many accredited and professional linguists are facing in today’s industry. Many professional linguists are being denied an acceptable wage which reflects their skills. To tackle this problem, our company is committed to grow a community of linguists from different backgrounds to create unity, diversity and empowerment to propel and leverage this movement and make things happen.

What advice would you give to translation students interested in following a similar path?

My advice is to follow and listen to your heart, fight hard for your dreams and never settle! If you feel a call inside of you, go and get it! Never listen to those who try to convince you about something you don’t believe in. Don’t waste your time in things that make you unhappy and don’t fill your spirit with joy and excitement. 

The world needs new creations and ideas, different structures and new and fresh mindsets. After all, we are the present and the future and it’s up to us to reshape our world to make it a better place for everyone.