Valeria Aliperta gave a presentation on A Day in the Life of an Interpreter at the Language Show Live 2013. Translation and Interpreting are two highly connected, yet separate, industries. Whereas I only work in the latter, I thought it would be useful to gain an insight into my sister industry.
Interpreters are super heroes, Valeria started off by saying. Their hours are long and taxing, they require hardcore training, they need to perform promptly and instantaneously, and they need to have a profound knowledge of their specialist areas. But it’s a rewarding career nonetheless.
Valeria explained the various types of interpreting, such as corporate, conference, court and live events, each with their various merits and drawbacks. Corporate interpreting allows a close relationship with your client…conference interpreting not so much. In some types, more so than others, the client may speak too quickly and it’s hard to keep up. Court interpreting could entail long delays and there’s a chance that the defendant won’t even show up!
Val gave some tips and tricks to the audience, though. Firstly, her interpreting checklist, including your computer, headphones, cables, USB sticks, pen, paper, post-its, deodorant, snacks, tissues and spare batteries.
She also shared some wise pieces of advice: know your topics, don’t go hungry, look after your voicebox, ask questions and above all…heart what you do.
Create your own niche and your own market, Valeria recommended, by specialising and doing what you do best, in order to be competitive.
Questions from the audience included how to recover from making mistakes, to which Val replied: work in pairs…it’s like having a proofreader for a translation. The audience were also curious about up-and-coming language pairs, and, like in translation, German appears to be in high demand at the moment.
Finally, a question came about how to balance your work if you are a translator and interpreter. Why not partner up? Share your workload with others (provided the client is aware of this). And ask for flexibility from your client. If you’re good, they’ll want you and they’ll oblige.