Sonya and I were talking the other day about how one of the best things about our work is the variety. We literally never know what will arrive on our desks next.
When creating our course, we have tried to bring in as many different topics as possible with as many different accents as we can to expose our students to the kinds of things they can expect to come across working as a transcriber.
Obviously, no one can know everything. The topics covered over our years in this industry have included everything from legal, medical, financial, mining, oil and gas exploration, workplace investigations, criminal investigations, focus groups and research interviews on any number of topics, and I’m sure Sonya could add a whole lot more. Even taking just finance, you could be talking about any one of the markets anywhere in the world, and traders could be talking about any investment or commodity. Government and public service sectors cover disability, health, archives…the list truly is endless.
To get around this, Sonya frequently refers to “Google-fu,” which is the ability to use Google like a master. Like any skill, the more you use your Google-fu, the better you become at it. You know to forage into the shareholder presentations on a website to get crazy mining project names, or the best formula for Googling a person’s name to get the correct spelling, how to use your Google-fu to find place names–and boy does Australia have some strange ones!
One set of files we were working on a while ago was around railway lines and we had to Google a recognisable town nearby and then visually search outwards on a Google map along the rail line until we found the tiny town they were referring to. Not that this always works. In one interview in Module 2, our lovely vet was talking about her work up in Oenpelli and I had to ask her for the spelling of one community as the place she referred to wasn’t actually on the map at all, being so remote! However, with practice, it works 99.9% of the time.
And then, besides topics there are accents. Even the most mundane topic suddenly sounds glamorous if that person has a wonderful Scottish, French, or American accent. Not everyone finds it easy to transcribe accents though, even after years and years of practice with all kinds of accents, you will come across one that you find difficult. But with perseverance and working back through the time-stamps, it’s amazing how much you get on a second pass through and your ear will be more attuned to that particular accent next time around.
So for a career that covers many topics, and many accents, that allows you to travel the world from the comfort of your home-office, you can’t do better than transcription. If variety is the spice of life, this is one tasty taco. Happy transcribing…!