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Doubts on internship
Thread poster: borbea

borbea  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:00
English to Italian
+ ...
Jan 16, 2014


I am a new member and a student of conference interpreting (MA) in Trieste.

I just got a bursary from my University for a 6-month-long unpaid internship at an Irish translation agency. The fields of work will be office administration, translation and interpreting. But I am not sure working there will be a good idea. For a start, they do not have a EN 15038 certification - I know that isn't necessarily relevant, but that means they are free to employ me for jobs I am not qualified to do. I spoke with my prospective boss and she told me I might have to work as an interpreter in high-responsibility situations like in courts or hospitals on short notice (72 hours is a best-case scenario) and I can't really refuse assignments - though I can ask for assistance in case I really can't manage the task. I don't even have a qualification yet (I am still doing my Master's degree) and I am certainly not specialized in the legal or medical field. I haven't even had a real job interview - we have just been discussing dates.

I want to do an internship in a translation agency because I feel it would give me more chances to work as a translator or interpreter later, and I need to do it while I'm still studying so I can get a bursary. Also I am willing to work hard and climb up the ladder like everyone else, but I am not sure whether working in such an agency will be useful or harmful for my career.
Apart from the agency not having an ISO certification, do you think it is usual/accepted for a translator or interpreter to start his or her career by working in high-responsibility situations on such short notice without being fully qualified yet? Do you reckon that's as good a place to start as any other - we all must start from somewhere - or do you think it could damage my reputation before I even build one? I'm also not sure about the legal side of the matter. My prospective boss said the agency takes full responsibility for any mistake I might make because of poor preparation or underqualification. She also described Irish society as an intern's paradise, always ready to forgive your mistakes and cheer you on...But as far as I know, interpreters and translators working in the legal sector have some extent of individual responsibility. I'm afraid that I could end up in serious trouble because of mistakes I might make.

I can always decide to look for another agency which does not require such a high level of responsibility from interns. Many of my colleagues at University who are doing an internship in a translation agency only deal with safer tasks like managing orders. But, of course, such an internship would be less relevant to my field of study and (desired) field of work. What would you do? Take the risk or play safe?

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Beatrice Borio


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