Saturday, March 22, 2014

Love languages? Want to travel? Work for the EU!

There are many ways to become a conference interpreter. However, there are several main features that unite all interpreters: 

- Do years of grueling training!  Have your self confidence and self worth sapped completely by vindictive sadists, and thank them for it!

- Get rejected from professional organizations because you lack experience.

- Learn that you won’t work unless you add English B, Hungerlish and Slavobosnian!

- Learn after you finish that most booths are saturated with interpreters in your situation!

- At one point, start undercutting each other like good youngsters, compete with each other for the glory and savings of SCIC!

- End up nearly suicidal!

- After spending three years being told how important “la relève” is, realize your youth and exuberance are but a liability! You will also develop amazing career opportunities: Translation, English tutoring, waiting tables, piloting a hotel desk!

- Starve when the SCIC won’t give you a test date because you only have four C languages, and none of them are Czech, so the only offers you get are from the grey market!  Be too petrified to be caught on the grey market, so continue starving!

- Spend your first three years after graduating working for free for Amnesty International!

- After you spend all that time and energy and patience, pass your exam, only to find out that once you’ve worked 100 days and they have to up your pay, they forget you ever existed! (And start hiring the most recent graduate!)

- Wind up like any other millennial- poor, alone, and in your childhood bedroom!

- In your childhood bedroom you’ll have plenty of opportunities to reflect on how Mario Benedetti told you to become an interpreter because they needed them because so many were retiring, and how your teachers say the same, but still it’s your fault because this is the labour market and you didn’t see it coming-you weren’t flexible enough!

- Discover that the reason the Baby Boomer generation had it so great in the 70’s was not only the Quaaludes (WTF is this?) (A drug everyone took in the 70s, duh), but because the generation before them did the unthinkable- RETIRE! Whereas the current generation dies of a stroke in the booth at age 90!!

- Think about your own parents’ real estate and debt woes, and realize that anyone born between 1940 and 1960 is in the same boat- that includes your colleagues in the booth.  It dawns on you that whether they want to or not, they will never retire.

- Discover the joy of “disruptive technology." Your competition on the private market is now an iPhone app.

- Live in fear of being blacklisted from AIIC for being too young and eager! Beware of proposing anything that could even make someone think of the boat being rocked!

- Spend a fortune on learning Romanian and professional development courses, only to learn that Romanian C is overloaded once you have the courage to request a new test date!  They need Finnish instead!

- Spend two years on murky websites attempting to communicate with the right person to set up a UN freelance exam, to be told that there simply is no demand for freelancers thanks to the retired staffers still on the market, so they aren’t offering it for your booth right now. Or ever. Your friends who passed it a year ago tell you they have yet to get a single day.  

- Sit in the booth with a colleague who joined AIIC 12 years before your parents even met, and insists that you will NEVER EVER be good enough.

- Consider defecting to the United States, only to learn that the State Department has currently put a moratorium on exams for your language.  You’d have to be a citizen or green card holder, anyway.

- Find out that the moratorium is fake. If they wanted to hire you, they’d call you…but they’re just not that into you.

- To pay the bills and get some practice into your B language as you prepare for accreditation exams, moonlight as a public service interpreter.  Find out that the local conference interpreting market has deemed you stained by such mediocrity and shuns you.

- Learn that after years of trying to get a foot in the door in Brussels, the only place you have any hope of working is Abuja, but despite your pioneering spirit, ECOWAS and Nigeria aren’t forking out visas to foreign freelancers!

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