AFTER my first interpreting day
Thread poster: Martina Rotondi

Martina Rotondi  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 03:02
Member (2014)
German to Italian
+ ...
May 20, 2013

I'am so happy because I thought I wouldn't be able to make it and -of course I made mistakes- but I gave it my best and it went wellicon_smile.gif


Now I have more questions than before, would you help me?

1)Preparation:

I had no information about the meeting. When I asked for it, they answered me: -"There is not a schedule, you can take a look at our website" (Did that already -.- )
So I studied everything on the website and that's it. Is that right? No info at all?

2)Rates:

-Do I have to count also travel time -for example moving in my city (Milan) could take ages (es. 2/3 hours return)
-Do you charge more if you have only few days to prepare yourself? (e.g they contacted me only 4 days before the meeting)

3) Speaker:

-He was looking at me rather than the other speaker. I think it's so rude.. Should I say anything?
-When we met he said "Well actually I know English a little bit but I think it would be better to have you, maybe I understand and you just need to speak for me"
And every sentence, he started to speak in english and after two or three english words he continued in italian =It was annoying and sometimes also confusing. And there was no way to let the other speaker speak..

4)Fatigue:

During the meeting I was so dynamic and calm at the same time, but at the end (5 hours with no break- negotiation interpreting ) or better on my way home I was SO SO SO sleepy. Is that happening to you too? Will I get used to?Or is there a way to limit that?

Many thanks,
Martina


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
My 2 cents May 20, 2013

RMartina wrote:

I'am so happy because I thought I wouldn't be able to make it and -of course I made mistakes- but I gave it my best and it went wellicon_smile.gif


Now I have more questions than before, would you help me?

1)Preparation: I had no information about the meeting. Is that right? No info at all?

-> Yep. Sink or swim. It sounds like you've passed the acid test!

2)Rates:
- Do I have to count also travel time -for example moving in my city (Milan) could take ages (es. 2/3 hours return)
-> As long as you tell the client when you quote your rate for the job, I don't see why you shouldn't charge for travel time.
-Do you charge more if you have only few days to prepare yourself? (e.g they contacted me only 4 days before the meeting)
-> I don't think so. Anyway, 4 days seems like plenty of time to me.

3) Speaker:

-He was looking at me rather than the other speaker. I think it's so rude. Should I say anything?
-> That's just your subjective opinion, although I understand it may make you feel "in the spotlight" and perhaps a little nervous.. We humans tend to look at the people we are addressing and in this case the speaker is looking at you. My only advice is to try not to worry about it too much.

-When we met he said "Well actually I know English a little bit but I think it would be better to have you, maybe I understand and you just need to speak for me"
And every sentence, he started to speak in english and after two or three english words he continued in italian =It was annoying and sometimes also confusing. And there was no way to let the other speaker speak..

-> That sounds more problematic. They say "the customer is always right" but it isn't always true. I'm afraid I can't say anything about this point.

4)Fatigue:
During the meeting I was so dynamic and calm at the same time, but at the end (5 hours with no break- negotiation interpreting ) or better on my way home I was SO SO SO sleepy. Is that happening to you too? Will I get used to?Or is there a way to limit that?

-> Yes, that is normal; you feel absolutely drained - it's one of the reasons I rarely take interpreting jobs nowadays. Moreover, 5 hours is a very long session. I'd try to insist on breaks the next time, if possible.





 

Martina Rotondi  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 03:02
Member (2014)
German to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks May 20, 2013

neilmac wrote:

RMartina wrote:

I'am so happy because I thought I wouldn't be able to make it and -of course I made mistakes- but I gave it my best and it went wellicon_smile.gif


Now I have more questions than before, would you help me?

1)Preparation: I had no information about the meeting. Is that right? No info at all?

-> Yep. Sink or swim. It sounds like you've passed the acid test!

2)Rates:
- Do I have to count also travel time -for example moving in my city (Milan) could take ages (es. 2/3 hours return)
-> As long as you tell the client when you quote your rate for the job, I don't see why you shouldn't charge for travel time.
-Do you charge more if you have only few days to prepare yourself? (e.g they contacted me only 4 days before the meeting)
-> I don't think so. Anyway, 4 days seems like plenty of time to me.

3) Speaker:

-He was looking at me rather than the other speaker. I think it's so rude. Should I say anything?
-> That's just your subjective opinion, although I understand it may make you feel "in the spotlight" and perhaps a little nervous.. We humans tend to look at the people we are addressing and in this case the speaker is looking at you. My only advice is to try not to worry about it too much.

-When we met he said "Well actually I know English a little bit but I think it would be better to have you, maybe I understand and you just need to speak for me"
And every sentence, he started to speak in english and after two or three english words he continued in italian =It was annoying and sometimes also confusing. And there was no way to let the other speaker speak..

-> That sounds more problematic. They say "the customer is always right" but it isn't always true. I'm afraid I can't say anything about this point.

4)Fatigue:
During the meeting I was so dynamic and calm at the same time, but at the end (5 hours with no break- negotiation interpreting ) or better on my way home I was SO SO SO sleepy. Is that happening to you too? Will I get used to?Or is there a way to limit that?

-> Yes, that is normal; you feel absolutely drained - it's one of the reasons I rarely take interpreting jobs nowadays. Moreover, 5 hours is a very long session. I'd try to insist on breaks the next time, if possible.





Thank you very muchicon_smile.gif


 

polyglot45
English to French
+ ...
more input May 20, 2013

1)Preparation:
A sensible client will provide you with material in advance – it is in his interest as much as your own. Most need educating. Often they don’t realise how much better the interpreter will be able to perform, if he/she understand the issues, underlying, principles and politics at stake.
In the absence of any input, the website is the only other option.
2)Rates:
You should normally offer a price quotation BEFORE you start. The standard rates for interpreting are supposed to cover incidentals (such as travel) but if you come from very far away, have to spend a night at a hotel, etc., normally the client will reimburse on receipt of the invoices. That said, if you happen to live out of town and meetings tend to be in town, the travel costs are your problem as a rule.
3) Speaker:
Speakers do their own thing. They tend to talk to the interpreter because it is instinctive to do so. You should talk to the person(s) for whom you are interpreting irrespective of what the speaker does. Like it or not, you have to go with the flow.
4)Fatigue:
Interpreting requires a great deal of concentration, especially when you’re starting, because you haven’t the experience and the confidence to relax. Things do get better with both time and experience but you should never be too relaxed: you could be caught napping! In principle, you should never work for more than 3 ½ hours without a break. That said, it is hard to ask the meeting to stop just for you, especially if they are working to tight deadlines. It is usually better to agree such things before you start. Five hours is more than half a day. I hope you charged for a whole day. If not, you should have done.


 

Gül Kaya  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:02
Turkish to English
+ ...
State your boundaries before the session May 20, 2013

Hi and first of all congratulations on your first assignment which is always daunting but now it's out of the way you can build up your confidence for the next ones.
I have been interpreting for many years and I would say the following.

First of all you need to make your mark at the very beginning and be as forthright as possible without being rude of course about what your expectations as the interpreter in the room are. If you know it's going to be a long appointment, say right at the beginning that you will be needing a short break on the hour, every hour, even if it's for a few minutes just to collect your thoughts and have a drink of water or something (talking takes its toll on the throat). Even though it's not as stressful a situation as being in a booth doing simultaneous, it's still a high pressure situation and you need to have a rest.

Then, again before you begin, tell your interlocutor that you will be interpreting in the first person and that he or she must address the person they are "talking" to rather than you. This is psychologically important to mark your position as a neutral person in the room - remember you have no thoughts whatsoever about what is being said and you shouldn't be made to feel that you are anything other than a conveyer of the messages.

If someone is insisting on speaking English then switching as soon as they hit a grammatical wall they cannot climb, you must state politely but quite clearly as soon as possible that it would assist you greatly if they would begin in their own language. These are the ones that will also "correct" you every now and then. You must be firm and stand by your interpreting. Also don't be afraid of asking for clarifications if there's something you don't understand, asking people to slow down or speed up.

Have a word in a short pre-session briefing about these points and it should all go swimmingly. And as I say you will become more and more confident the more work you do As for your questions about travel etc, you need to settle all those points when negotiating for the job.

Good luck


 

Martina Rotondi  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 03:02
Member (2014)
German to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
As for the rates May 20, 2013

I charged 20 euro per hour that is 100 for the entire job.

 

Martina Rotondi  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 03:02
Member (2014)
German to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Exactly May 20, 2013

Gül Kaya wrote:

These are the ones that will also "correct" you every now and then. You must be firm and stand by your interpreting. Also don't be afraid of asking for clarifications if there's something you don't understand, asking people to slow down or speed up.


Yes, exactly. He tried to correct me a few times, as well as repeating my words sometimes..


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:02
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
my answers ;-) May 20, 2013

It is draining but the more you do it the more you get used to it. Once you've managed to make a name for yourself you'll be able to specialise a bit and then you'll be working on automatic pilot to a certain extent. As with all things, practice makes perfect!

If you don't have time to fit anything else in on that day (not to mention being more than a zombie for the rest of the day) then you charge for a whole day. When I worked as PM, interpreters only ever charged for a half-day when it was a last-minute thing and there was no chance of them being able to fit anything else in. Otherwise you might find yourself refusing a day-long conference because of a trivial one-hour session in the middle of the day.

As for input, it is really annoying that clients don't understand that you need to prepare. They think of you as a dictionary in human form and don't realise that you might need to swot up on their subject. I tell my clients that while I'm the linguist, they're the specialists in their field and we need to work together to find the best way to show just how special they are. A little bit of buttering up can work wondersicon_wink.gif


 

Claudia Cherici  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:02
Member (2010)
English to Italian
+ ...
20 euro? May 20, 2013

20 euro/hour (and I bet it included taxes) is nowhere near a serious interpreting rate

 

Martina Rotondi  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 03:02
Member (2014)
German to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Since I am a beginner.. May 21, 2013

Claudia Cherici wrote:

20 euro/hour (and I bet it included taxes) is nowhere near a serious interpreting rate


No with no taxes, since I'am a beginner I think I can't ask more..


 

Haytham Boles  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:02
Member (2010)
English to Arabic
+ ...
After my first interpreting day! May 21, 2013

Dear Martina,

Congratulations on your first interpreting experience!

Thank you for making the effort and taking the time to share about your first interpreting experience (writing the post) and asking for answers to your questions from other professionals in the field.

I believe it is always good and right that the interpreter ask for a break time at least 10-15 minutes when interpreting for a long assignment in order to be able to do a good job in the end because this break time will help you collect your thoughts and recharge; interpreting is a very tiring and demanding task physically and mentally. I believe that if you do not ask for some break, you will be liable to make mistakes that can be very serious simply because you can loose concentration about what you are interpreting.

When I have an interpreting assignment that can exceed the 2-3 hour limit, I politely request some break; I noticed that some of the other interlocutors are very relieved to take a short break.

With regards to preparation, it is true that sometimes the client does not provide you with the information you need about the topic or they provide you only the topic/subject you are going to interpret. What I do in such a case, and find useful is to search on the internet for more information about the topic; Sometimes I find a good deal of information about the topic that I read ahead of the interpreting assignment. You simply can Google the topic/keywords; sometimes you can find bilingual glossary. One time, actually the first time I was interpreting for the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement/San Diego I did not have any information and idea about what I am going to interpret and I was intimidated and worried about my performance; what I did is that I went to that department 3-4 days before the scheduled date of the appt. and obtained some documents and paperwork related to my interpreting assignment. It really worked for me.

Wishing you the best with you future interpreting assignmentsicon_smile.gif

Regards,
Haytham Boles
Arabic/Chaldean Interpreter/Translator


 

Chiara Cherubini  Identity Verified
Germany
German to Italian
+ ...
Rates for beginners May 22, 2013

Dear Martina,

I would like to say something about the question of rates.. Since I have started teaching conference interpreting at a university here in Germany, I have to hear (and oppose to!) this argument very often. I don't understand why interpreters who just finished their training think they should be paid less than experienced interpreters! Seriously, I don't get the logics behind it! You are a fully qualified interpreter and you invested a lot (in terms of money, time etc.) on your training and now you want to sell yourself for 20 Euro/hour? Something is wrong here! If you are qualified and you can do the job properly, then you should get paid accordingly. Stop. There are also other reasons why it is essential that interpreters who just start working ask for a good rate:

1. We all work on the same market ("new" and more experienced interpreters) and if you work for low rates you destroy the market for everyone;

2. Once you start working for low rates it will be very hard to raise them (with your old customers it will be close to impossible);

3. Low rates can damage your reputation: if other colleagues or even some customers know you work for low rates, they might think than the quality of your work is also not so great..

4. (Most important:) you want to pay bills with this job.. hard to get there with these rates.

My comments do not intend to be an attack to you, I just hope to give you some food for thoughts.. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a "rate for beginners"! I wish you all the best with your career!

Chiara


 

Martina Rotondi  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 03:02
Member (2014)
German to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I had doubts about my performance May 22, 2013

Chiara Cherubini wrote:

If you are qualified and you can do the job properly, then you should get paid accordingly.


That's the point. I've a degree, and I've been working as trainee interpreter since last october, translating lessons in a school but this was the first real interpreting job for me and I wasn't sure about my performance. Actually I think I did a good job because my clients congratulated me on my translation but I was so worry before.. I thought "Well what if I'm not good?I can't charge too much!"
I also asked here (see my post "first interpreting day: rates" and someone wrote "As a beginner....".
Anyway thank you for sharing your opinion, I really appreciate it, and I'm sure it will help me for my next job.

Martina


 

Martina Rotondi  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 03:02
Member (2014)
German to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thank you !! May 22, 2013

Haytham Boles wrote:

Dear Martina,

Congratulations on your first interpreting experience!

Thank you for making the effort and taking the time to share about your first interpreting experience (writing the post) and asking for answers to your questions from other professionals in the field.

I believe it is always good and right that the interpreter ask for a break time at least 10-15 minutes when interpreting for a long assignment in order to be able to do a good job in the end because this break time will help you collect your thoughts and recharge; interpreting is a very tiring and demanding task physically and mentally. I believe that if you do not ask for some break, you will be liable to make mistakes that can be very serious simply because you can loose concentration about what you are interpreting.

When I have an interpreting assignment that can exceed the 2-3 hour limit, I politely request some break; I noticed that some of the other interlocutors are very relieved to take a short break.

With regards to preparation, it is true that sometimes the client does not provide you with the information you need about the topic or they provide you only the topic/subject you are going to interpret. What I do in such a case, and find useful is to search on the internet for more information about the topic; Sometimes I find a good deal of information about the topic that I read ahead of the interpreting assignment. You simply can Google the topic/keywords; sometimes you can find bilingual glossary. One time, actually the first time I was interpreting for the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement/San Diego I did not have any information and idea about what I am going to interpret and I was intimidated and worried about my performance; what I did is that I went to that department 3-4 days before the scheduled date of the appt. and obtained some documents and paperwork related to my interpreting assignment. It really worked for me.

Wishing you the best with you future interpreting assignmentsicon_smile.gif

Regards,
Haytham Boles
Arabic/Chaldean Interpreter/Translator


Thank you for answering me, I got words of wisdom from all of you !


 


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