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Masters in conference interpreting - who is it for?
Thread poster: Kati Bumbera

Kati Bumbera  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:29
Hungarian to English
+ ...
Feb 18, 2009

Hello...I've been reading around here a bit and I've found a couple of interesting threads discussing the pros and cons of various universities and the courses they offer. I have a more generic question about masters in conference interpreting: who is it really aimed at? What can you do with it afterwards, what are the advantates of having it vs having another kind of qualification or not having any at all?

From what I've read I get the impression that most people who do it seem pretty content with it and while it does sound intimidatingly difficult it is also appears to be rewarding professionally and I haven't read any complaints or regrets. However I also find that those who choose to do it tend to be more academic-minded people who enjoy studying for the sake of studying rather than with a specific objective in mind. Is that true? I realise the usefulness of the degree depends largely on the language combination as well, but in general, should I be looking at it from the perspective of finding work afterwards or purely from the "am I interested in it" point of view?

Thanks.


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Ewa Urbańczyk-Piskorska  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:29
English to Polish
+ ...
for academic-minded people? - not at all Feb 18, 2009

Hi Kati,

you can read a bit more about the European Masters here: http://www.emcinterpreting.org/.

It is intended for interpreters who want to improve their skills or people who want to become interpreters. From my experience, this program is not addressed to academic-minded people at all. These are very practical studies. Most of the time is dedicated to interpreting: consecutive and simultaneous, notation etc.

The course can also be helpful from the point of view of degrees, qualifications - e.g. if you want to work as freelance interpreter for the European institutions. In such a case a degree in interpreting is required so if you do not hold one, this course will do the job.
These courses also tend to be quite expensive, so not really the kind you would start from the "am I interested in it" point of view;) On the other hand, the rate of return on this "investment" is high.

Ewa


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:29
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Just some comments Feb 19, 2009

First of all, it's a practical course. Not for dabblers, though. Admission tests generally seek to ensure that at the very least students aren't going to use it to learn languages. The "Master" approach favours mature applicants, most of whom are likely to have had experience of some sort on which to build and improve. You see, the general observation is that undergraduate T&I courses barely have time to devote intensively to interpretation: hence, an additional year or so specializing. Also, the investment (economic AND emotional) makes it daunting enough for those who have no serious professional aspirations in the field.

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Kati Bumbera  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:29
Hungarian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
just to clarify the "practical" comment Feb 19, 2009

Thanks for both of your comments.

What I meant by "practical" vs "academical" didn't refer to the course content. I understand it is very much focused on practical skills rather than giving a theoretical background or whatever.

What I was trying to understand is this: there seem to be a lot of people interested in it who are already established interpreters with several years of experience and who already make a decent living of it - my guess (and please correct me if I'm wrong) is that the benefit they gain from it is more about the pleasure of studying something they are interested in and less about the economic or professional advantage they may have after they obtain the degree. I think this isn't unusual outside the profession of translation/interpreting as well - people who are already pretty established in their careers often decide to study again, more because they want the intellectual challange and not so much because they couldn't advance their careers otherwise. But again, this is just my impression.

As you also pointed out, it is quite a demanding course both financially and in terms of the effort you need to put in, which is why I'm trying to ascertain whether or not I'm looking at it from the right angle (I mean, the right angle for me - I don't intend to criticise anybody else's choices.)

The other group of people who seem to be interested is those who don't yet hold any qualifications and/or have little to no experience, people straight out of an undergraduate school etc. - I can understand this as well, I probably wouldn't hesitate to have a go at it if I was one of them.

Thanks again for your thoughts.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:29
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not at all Feb 19, 2009

Kati Bumbera wrote:

What I was trying to understand is this: there seem to be a lot of people interested in it who are already established interpreters with several years of experience and who already make a decent living of it - my guess (and please correct me if I'm wrong) is that the benefit they gain from it is more about the pleasure of studying something they are interested in and less about the economic or professional advantage they may have after they obtain the degree. I think this isn't unusual outside the profession of translation/interpreting as well - people who are already pretty established in their careers often decide to study again, more because they want the intellectual challange and not so much because they couldn't advance their careers otherwise. But again, this is just my impression.


It's often said (or used to be) that translation/interpretation is a career that finds you, not the other way around. Maybe that also goes for certain other fields. If that's true, then there's a lot to be gained from an academic experience, particularly when one is in a position to contribute to it.

The "right angle for you" is a good way to put it. It's like the Holy Grail -- everybody's looking for something they don't quite know the shape of, and the results may well depend on whether you're a fresh graduate, whether you have had an initial experience to build on, whether you're looking for sound criteria for self-analysis and critique, or whether you've just been seduced by a siren-song about a dream career you're not that sure is for you... but what some people may lose along the way is this individual focus. As in all over the T&I field, you'll all be coming from different backgrounds, experiences and even cultures. Everybody will have a "profit" that will not quite be the meat of the other, and there may even be a tendency to squabble in case that element seems to be in short supply (that's a conventional "target-oriented" illusion from the angle of competition). It's hard to look at the guy beside you and still think he's different and that you should be minding your own business if you're to gain something from the experience. But the yardstick used for one person is not likely to be the ideal one for another. Not internally, anyway, although you'd all have marks in the end.

Another dimension to consider is growth, development, or maturity, if you prefer -- the fact that you're in a way a different person today than you were yesterday. Call it micro-modular learning. The same ballet exercise will be different at different points in your life, and you'll have different things to get out of it. If you go on a sit-down strike because no one is giving you new exercises, that's your call, but no one got to be prima ballerina that way

Hence, you find all those people doing Chinese painting (a form of choreography) just because, according to them, it "relaxes". I never quite got around to believing that. It's an inner journey, like any other. Also somewhat hard to explain. It's easier, not to mention less embarrassing, to be "relaxing".

Does any of that explain the "strange behaviour" of certain colleagues?



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Kati Bumbera  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:29
Hungarian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
analyse this! :) Feb 19, 2009

Wow, Parrot, what a beautiful post! Thank you.

However, you make it sound a bit like I'm having a midlife crisis. Either that, or I don't belong in any remotely language-related profession to begin with, considering I can't even ask a simple question that people understand.

I'll try again: in certain fields/jobs/professions it is indispensable that you have a masters (or an equivalent formal qualification.) You can't be a doctor without having gone to med school and so on. In other jobs/professions/etc. a lot of this is optional, or depends on your personality or where you are in life etc. I am inclined to believe that this is the case here, but I'm not sure, since it's only been two days that I seriously started to read upon it, and maybe I'm missing something.

For example, Ewa above mentioned that you need to have a degree to work for the EU institutions. On the other hand I've read about the EU having their own selection procedures where having a degree may be a pre-requisite but they don't actually specify what degree they want (a specific one, or one is as good as the other, or there are better ones than others) nor does having one guarantee that you will get selected. Also, what happens to the people who can't or don't want to work for EU instutions?

I'm just in the process of clearing up a similar confusion around the DPSI degree I recently obtained and the NRPSI...when I first heard about them, it seemed straightforward enough but now having caught a glimpse of reality I begin to understand that the market is much more heterogeneous than that. Like you said, a lot of people come into these professions with different backgrounds and sometimes one thing is as good as the other. And since we are talking about quite a big commitment here, I'd like to have a better understanding of what's around and what leads where.


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