Getting to know us

Getting to know us – Anna Compton

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In-house Translation Team Lead

In this next instalment of our “Getting to know us” series, we find out a bit more about one of our senior translators Anna Compton. As one of AST’s most long-standing members of staff, we wanted to dig a little deeper to find out how she thinks the translation industry has evolved in recent years, but also to give you an insight into her day-to-day role within the company and what she likes to get up to when she’s not translating.


I guess the question we’re eager to ask straight off the bat is what motivated you to study languages and, in particular, to get into the translation industry?

With an Austrian mother and a French teacher as a father, I think it was inevitable that I would study languages! Since being introduced to French and German by my parents, I have always enjoyed learning languages and finding out about different cultures. I decided to become a translator right at the end of my degree when I realised that translation had been my favourite part of my studies. So I moved on to an MA in Translation and really felt I’d found the right thing for me. I love finding the balance between conveying the message of the source text accurately and using creativity to write a piece that sounds good in English.


As one of AST’s most experienced translators, how do you think the industry has changed since you started out? What role do you think translation has to play in society in the current climate?

The main changes I have noticed relate to technology, specifically a huge increase in the use of CAT tools and the development of machine translation. When I started at AST in 2012, the majority of translations I did were not in a CAT tool. Seven years later, it’s now quite rare for us to do a translation without one. I’ve used around six different tools during my time here. More recently, we’ve moved into the area of machine translation technology and post-editing MT output. Although I have seen machine translation improve significantly over the past few years, I believe that very often only human translators can truly understand the different layers of meaning in a text and adopt the right style to get the author’s message across. In the current climate, I also hope that translation can help people from different cultures to understand one another better and bring them together.


Your role at the company is quite multifaceted. Can you tell us a bit more about what you do and what you find most enjoyable and rewarding?

Apart from translating and proofreading, I spend my time promoting translation to language students and helping them to get an insight into the translation industry and the careers available. This mainly involves running work experience placements for younger students and a summer internship, which is primarily aimed at final-year students and graduates. During work experience, students get an overview of the different roles at AST and try out some practice translations, while translation interns become part of our in-house translation team for a month and have the chance to do real jobs for our clients (carefully proofread by senior translators of course). I really enjoy showing students what we do here. It’s very rewarding to see their translations improve and hear how their experience at AST has helped them with their career choice.


If you could give one single piece of golden advice to new starters just breaking into the industry, what would it be?

I think the most important thing is to get some work experience – the internship I did at a translation agency in London and the freelance work I did before working at AST really confirmed my decision to become a translator and to work in house and helped me choose which subject areas to specialise in. Get in touch with me ( to find out more about our work experience opportunities and how to apply.


You run AST’s choir, but what other interests and hobbies do you enjoy doing outside work to relax and unwind?

Even more singing! I’m currently part of a choir singing in a local play and hope to continue singing or acting in Nottingham when the show is over. I also enjoy reading novels in German and English (mostly murder mysteries) and going to the theatre and cinema.


We hope you have enjoyed finding out a little more about Anna. Make sure you don’t miss our next instalment where we’ll be putting the spotlight on another valuable member of the AST team.