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Meet Karen Montaldi of Montaldi Translations in Oak Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karen Montaldi.

Karen, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Montaldi Translations started in an unusual way. I was studying to be an Audio Engineer when I went to a friend’s wedding in Nashville, Tennessee. During this trip, I met a researcher who conducted medical research in Mozambique, Africa, where they also speak Portuguese. We strike a conversation and the researcher learns about my background and suggests I start taking translation projects. I had only done small translation projects prior to this, usually for friends, and was very invested in my Audio Engineering career at the time, so I did not think much of it. Almost a full year goes by and I am contacted by the researcher asking if I would work on a translation project for one of her co-workers. At first, I assumed the project was only a few pages long, until I received an email with 340 pages of one-on-one interviews and group discussions conducted in Mozambique.

It took an incredible amount of research, online classes, webinars, etc., but I finished the project and in the process realized that my life-long passion for languages and different cultures was a lot stronger than my love for Audio Engineering, and decided to pursue translation as a career. Today I have over 5 years of experience, working with both Brazilian Portuguese and Mozambican Portuguese. I also recently launched my own blog, and revamped the company’s website.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has definitely not been a smooth road. When I first started out, I really didn’t know much about the translation business. I was fresh out of college, living in a foreign country for the first time (I was born and raised in Brazil), had never worked on a big translation project before, and didn’t know anything about running a business. The first couple of years were disorganized and I spent most of it in “survival mode”. After a lot of research and sitting in cafés reading general and translation specific business books, I finally figured out the business tools that worked for me and began building my brand. However, the challenges weren’t over. After beginning to figure out how to run my business, I had to learn how to launch social media campaigns, build my website from scratch, learned about how SEO and coding could really improve the searches for my website, began networking and building my list of contacts, prospecting, etc. Running your own business is a constant learning process though, so there is a new challenge every week.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Montaldi Translations – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We are a Portuguese to English and English to Portuguese Translation company, and we have access to a network of trusted translators in case one of our clients has the need to translate into languages we do not translate ourselves. Montaldi Translations’ main focus is scientific research (protocols, SOPs, one-on-one interviews, group discussions, etc.), but with my background in Audio Engineering and my expected BA in Psychology, we also focus on the translation of research papers, text books, etc., in those areas. However, I also have experience in business translation (internal reports, emails, marketing campaigns, etc.) and other general topics (articles, letters, etc.). And when a client approaches us with a request for a topic we are not confident translating, we always refer the client to a translator with more experience in the subject.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
My favorite part about Chicago is the weather. No, seriously. As someone who spent most of her life in Brazil, where winter means around 60 degrees, I like having the ability to practice different kinds of sports throughout the year. I have many hobbies, and most of them involve fitness activities, so it’s really cool for me to be able to work out with boyfriend by the water on a hot summer day, and then a few months later practice snowboarding when winter hits.

There is very little that I don’t like about Chicago, to be honest. I was supposed to be here for a few months to further my studies in English and ended up falling in love with this city, turning the few months into 6 years so far. However, if I had to pick something, I would probably say that my biggest “cultural shock” was with the fact that it is such a busy city that everyone is always in a rush or annoyed with something (especially while driving).

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Image Credit:
Lee Miller

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