Tips How To Work as a Freelance Conference Interpreter
This article is a collaboration with Day Translations, providing translations to and from approximately 300 languages from Afrikaans to Zulu, as well as interpreting services.
You have graduated in language interpreting, congratulations! And now, how do you get a job?
Once you are part of the language interpreting industry and you have built a profile you will notice that job offers will come your way, but until then your focus should be on getting as much experience as possible. Here are a few tips as you take your first steps into this exciting career.
Building Interpreting Experience through Volunteering
While working for nothing at the beginning of your career may not seem to be the best option because we all have bills to pay, not only does volunteering open up opportunities for paid work, but it can also help fast track an individual’s career path to a level of seniority that may not be easily attainable otherwise.
Many charities can’t afford to pay interpreters however they can offer valuable work experience that can be used to build a strong CV. If you can’t afford to work for free because, let’s face it, you are not a charity, in parallel to any volunteering work you can always choose to teach English as a foreign language, for example, because it’s a nice little earner due to the high demand from learners. Websites such as italki offer affordable online one-on-one foreign language sessions and there is always demand for teachers. Of course if you have other valuable skills that can be taught you can sign up to websites such as Udemy where you can become an instructor and set up online courses that earn you money for each student enrolment.
Anyway, time is money so make sure you are investing your time with volunteering organisations that will give you added value, especially in terms of bulking up your language interpreting CV and getting professional references.
Look at European Union Vacancies
European citizens have access to plenty of job opportunities in the European Union. Institutions such as the European Commission and the European Parliament require professional interpreters, as many sessions and meetings need to be translated into multiple languages.
For example, you can search on EPSO, the European Personnel Selection Office and look for available language interpreting vacancies. The downside to these opportunities is the high level of competition as there are only a few roles and hundreds of candidates, however it is worth applying anyway, what do you have to lose?
Get Referrals from Other Interpreters
While you may think that the conference interpreting sector is highly competitive, there are not enough hours in the day for one single interpreter to cover everything. You may have a language pair that is very desirable and that other interpreters may not possess. This is where networking can be so beneficial, because getting to know other colleagues and what languages they speak (and which languages they need someone else for) is a fantastic way to get a freelance project with little effort.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is fully complete, paying particular attention to your skills and any training courses you have attended, plus ask for endorsements from your contacts, as they will show as references. Keep updating your profile with any new freelance project you have completed and, of course, ask the people you have collaborated with for referrals.
Get the Best Sound Equipment You Can Afford
Remote interpreting is a thriving industry and you can get noticed by clients by your professional set up which has to include high quality sound equipment. Having the right equipment will make you stand out and also ensure that you can hear every bit of a conversation that needs translating without missing any detail, which can have a positive impact when conveying the overall meaning and message. Investing in sound equipment will build trust with your clients – nobody wants to experience the frustration of dropped calls or crackling background noise.
These are just some suggestions to help you on your search for opportunities, best of luck with your careers as a conference interpreter!