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Sara Ariff (1990-2000)

Self-employed translator, proof reader and interpreter, specialising in financial translation.

Qualifications: BA (Hons) Modern Languages (French, Spanish and Portuguese), M.A. Translation and Interpreting

What were your favourite subjects and who were your favourite teachers at School?

My favourite subjects at school were French, Spanish and History and I went on to study them at A-level. My favourite teachers were Mrs. Patterson and Mrs. Shafiq.

What does your job involve and how did you progress to your current role?

After studying my MA in 2005/6, I left to work in Madrid as a trainee project manager at CPSL Language Solutions. I then became an in-house financial translator at KPMG where I stayed until 2008, when I left for a position at Deloitte as an in-house financial translator. In 2012, I set up on my own and, since then, I have been working for a number of big clients, including major banks and retailers in Spain.

My job involves translating, proofreading, formatting and managing various translation projects. The latter involves costing projects and negotiating both prices and deadlines with clients. I started from the bottom, helping other project managers with their own projects and then gained a good grounding in specialised financial and legal translation at both KPMG and Deloitte. This gave me the confidence and the background to start up on my own as a freelance translator for a number of international agencies.

What/who influenced your career choice?

I always loved Spanish and Spain in general, and this was influenced by my grandfather and the house he bought over there. My dad also speaks more than one language and I used to hear him talking to his brother and sisters and think how fantastic it would be to be able to do that!

What/who has been your biggest inspiration?

My biggest inspiration has been my dad. He is a self-made man and gave me the confidence to believe that I could do it to.

What skills do you consider to be essential for your job?

Organisation is crucial for my job. The pace is so quick and one week can be so different to the next that it can be very hectic if you don’t organise yourself. Attention to detail and being well read in your own native language are also very important qualities. Finally you must be prepared to work long hours, particularly in the beginning, while you get clients and set yourself up.

What do you like most about your job?

I love dealing with people from many different cultures and the fact that I can manage my own time and work from home. I also love that I get to learn about a wide variety of topics through my translation work.

What is your biggest challenge in your current role?

My biggest challenge in my current role is managing my time. As you become more established, you receive more work. My challenge now is to try and expand so that I can take on this extra work and increase my client database.

What do you consider to be your greatest career achievement?

I think my biggest career achievement has been setting up on my own and managing my own business.

How did Bolton School help you to be successful in your chosen career?

Bolton School was crucial in helping me be successful in my chosen career. When you leave, you realise just how good the quality of teaching was and how many transferable skills it gives you. You can use these in the outside world to give yourself a head start.

What advice would you give to our pupils interested in your field of work?

I would recommend that students combine a language with another discipline at university, especially considering the current cost of fees.  Even if you then go on to study translation/interpreting or to be a translator/interpreter, you have specialist knowledge of another subject that will give you increased selling power on the translation and interpreting market.