Paula Manrique: How to Make It as a Freelance Interpreter
August 9, 2010
For a mix of reasons— luck, karma, contacts, networking, and full dedication to each and every interpreting assignment —I started working gradually and consistently with a series of clients. Now I am making a living with my dream job in Madrid, Spain one year after graduating!
In the last year, there have been many changes to how I approach conference interpretation. Interpreting per se has not changed throughout this year: What happens inside the booth will always be the core of our job. But what happens outside the booth lands you the gigs. You have the skills, but how do you match them with the clients?
Become a businessperson.
My livelihood now depends on interpreting (no job = no money to pay rent). The "Translation and Interpretation as a Profession" course is a nice introduction, although contacting clients and agencies and landing gigs has been trickier than attending class two hours a week and completing assignments. I have no formal training as a businessperson (I wish I had taken a course in the business administration program!), so common sense is my guide.
Earn your pay.
After the excitement of landing your first gig, put to practice what you learned at the Monterey Institute, starting with preparation. You need to study key concepts of the conference subject and build your vocabulary in the field. It takes me twice the time that I will be interpreting in the booth to prepare for it.
Remember you are not the only player in the game.
When you arrive at the venue, testing the sound and fostering teamwork with your booth mate is more than just routine work - it is necessary. When interpreting, I listen to my booth mate’s work both to learn from their solutions to difficult speeches and to jot down numbers, names, and more. When it is my turn, I welcome their help without forgetting that this half hour is my responsibility.
Let the interpretation begin… for today.
You can contact Paula through the Alumni Office or the Translation and Interpretation program.