Getting started as a conference interpreter
Thread poster: Linebyline

Linebyline  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:00
French to English
+ ...
Sep 22, 2005

Dear All,
I have an MA in conference interpreting from ICADE in Madrid. I had to work very hard to qualify and I'm really disappoint that, now back in London, I can't seem to get any work doing what I trained for, and enjoy. I do quite a lot of liaison interpreting (I'm a qualified member of the ITI) but have only managed to get two conference interpreting jobs in the past two years, despite being on the books of many agencies.
I believe I am a good conference interpreter (I work from Spanish into English and English into Spanish), and the feedback from my (admittedly very few) clients has been extremely positive.
Does anybody have any experience in gaining AIC sponsors? Or any other ideas on gaining access to this profession?
I'm very much looking forward to your comments.

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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:00
Marketing Sep 22, 2005

Hi Jo,

Are you concentrating your efforts in London only or are you making yourself known to agencies all over the country?
How about enquiring with hotels geared towards the business and conference market?

Is there a demand for EnglishSpanish interpreting in London? Have you gone out and made enquiries about this?
In Ireland, for example, there is a massive demand for interpreters with Eastern European and Asian languages, not so much for the Western ones, unless it concerns a specialised area such as court cases.
Good luck!


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Local time: 19:00
English to French
+ ...
Connections is the name of the game Sep 22, 2005

Hi Jo

This is a very competitive arena you just entered.

Unfortunately, the only way to get a foot in the door is knowing someone on the inside. Basically, a seasoned interpreter who can take you under his/her wing and give you
those first jobs. That would be the best introduction. Other than that, you can try other connections, all the people you know who are involved in international business.

Good luck, getting started is far from easy.


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United Kingdom
Local time: 03:00
English to Italian
+ ...
Connections (2) Sep 22, 2005

In my old days at the ETI in Geneva, the teachers, who were themselves interpreters, would take their students "under their wing". The teachers also worked in a network and were responsible for providing interpreters and/or forming the teams at many conferences at Swiss and international level, so they would introduce young interpreters to the profession.
I'm pretty sure things haven't changed much since then.

All my friends who work as conf. interpr. get work through colleagues or because they passed the relevant exams at the UN and the EU. Maybe that could also be a start for you: try the tests for the international organisations in Brussels, Strasburg, The Hague, Geneva, New York - the UN institutions, EU, Council of Europe, NATO etc. True, you may need to take on another C-language, though.

All the best

[Edited at 2005-09-22 21:59]

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José Luis Villanueva-Senchuk  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:00
English to Spanish
+ ...
Lucia et al. Sep 22, 2005

The type of mentoring you mention is a MUST in this profession.

We are artists (my partner says we are magicians) and we need to pass through Renaissance-type apprenticeship. Obviously, we now have PDAs and laptops to mark our agenda, and we also have great schools. Nevertheless, the art of interpreting is passed on through the maestros and true mentors.

Happy day to y'all

JL - romantic today

[Edited at 2005-09-22 16:53]

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Rekha Narula  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:00
English to French
+ ...
Finding a job as a conference interpreter Sep 22, 2005

Hi Jo,
Well done on completing the course in Madrid. I don't have much to add in the way of advice on how to find jobs. However, if you are a member of the ITI, then have you joined any of their e-groups? The ones I'm thinking of are the interpreting & spanish ones, for you specifically. There are several former and current conference interpreters who are members of the ITI and such groups. 2 of the people I'm thinking of are Florence Mitchell & Pat Jenner.
Also, your message was rather relevant for me as I've been accepted to do a Master's in Conference Interpreting & Translation at Heriot-Watt next year. It's made me think about job prospects afterwards. I want to branch out and go into this field. I'm also no longer in my 20s or even early 30s, so might lose out to 'younger' candidates in future jobs.
I've been working as a freelance public service interpreter/translator since 2001 [social services, health, law]and I have 2 DPSIs apart from my degree in languages.
From personal experience, I know that many of the jobs you might be seeking are filled because of 'personal' recommendations. This is just as valid for the EU as for private enterprise.
You could consider applying to agencies which specialise in this area [i.e. conference interpreting]. It's an obvious thing to say, I know.
Good luck and drop me a line if you want more info regarding the ITI e-groups.

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