ASK ME HOW I GOT HIRED – Zilin Cui (MACI ’18, MIIS)

 

Zilin Cui is expected to graduate from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) with a degree in Conference Interpretation. Her language combination is English (A), Chinese (B) and Spanish (C). Prior to coming to MIIS, she has worked as a banking analyst, an assistant economist and an interpreter/translator in Chile. She interned at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington D.C. in summer of 2017.

*How did you find your job/internship?

I applied on the organization’s website after Prof. Barry Slaughter Olsen told us about the opportunity in March. About two months later I was phone interviewed, and a week later I received the offer letter.

*What experiences at MIIS helped (career management course, career fair, individual career advice, the MIIS network, coursework, class project, immersive learning experiences)?

Everything mentioned here helped, to different degrees. I would say individual career advice, DC career week and the MIIS network were the most helpful.

I met with Winnie Heh, my Career Advisor, before my first semester started and I think it was very helpful to hear from her point of view both as a T&I graduate and as someone who has years of experience recruiting and managing language professionals. It gave me a realistic picture of what to expect – I had come with the idea of becoming a UN interpreter and getting an UN internship for the summer but I realized over time that the path is not so straightforward, and that changing directions isn’t admitting defeat but rather embracing new opportunities.

DC career week gave me the opportunity to attend info sessions at international organizations I envisioned myself working for, through which I met interpretation and translation section chiefs and heard from them first-hand what I needed to do get to where I wanted to be. You can find my reflection on the trip here. I highly recommend anyone thinking of working in the States at all to attend – it gives you an idea what to expect once you graduate and reassures you that there is indeed a future after MIIS 🙂

And last but not least – the “MIIS Mafia” is a force to be reckoned with – during my DC trip I met MIIS alums at almost every organization I visited. Every one of them was delighted to see current MIIS students and some were very helpful with specific advice on applying to internships and career planning. Think about what organization you are interested in working/interning for and ask your career advisor/program coordinator if they know of any alum who has worked/is working there. You can research all you want but nothing beats hearing the inside scope, especially if it comes from someone who more likely than not wants to help you!

*What advice would you share with MIIS students?

  • Manage your expectations – this is one of the biggest things I learned both during my internship search and from my internship. I had expected to find an internship by March but did not secure mine until early May, by which time I was pleasantly surprised that I got one. Going into my internship I had ambitious goals of improving my interpretation into all my working languages and produce “audience-ready” interpretation by the end of my 2-month stint and get a return offer. Well, that did not happen and I only focused on one working language, which turned out to be a wiser approach since the same principles and techniques apply to any language pair. Interpreting skills and background knowledge takes years to build up, and it is important to keep that in mind when you feel frustrated with yourself; I certainly have and it is important to take things in perspective and move beyond that. A good internship should be an enriching and humbling experience. To appreciate its value requires us to have the appropriate expectations of ourselves and of the internship to and to distinguish between short-, medium- and long-term goals.
  • Take advantage of every opportunity out there – career fair, DC trip, meeting with your advisor/professors – do not think in terms of “will this land me an internship/job/gig” because that creates unrealistic expectations and unnecessary anxiety. Treat each opportunity as an occasion through which you can learn about the profession and get to know people – network is important in our profession, but approach it not from a utilitarian perspective and instead, think about how you can help each other (thanks Winnie for that advice!)
  • Don’t take things personally – be it feedback, be it the way that someone treated you on a particular day, and this applies to more than the internship or your time at MIIS but on a more general level. The more you are able to detach yourself from the situation, the less likely you will get emotionally involved and use the feedback/learning constructively.

Winnie Heh

Career Advisor

wheh@miis.edu

ASK ME HOW I GOT HIRED – Colleen Feng (MATLM ’18, MIIS)

 

Colleen Feng is expecting to graduate from Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) with an MA degree in Translation and Localization Management in summer of 2018. Prior to coming to MIIS, she earned an MA degree in Teaching English as a Second Language and taught English.  In summer of 2017, she worked as a Localization Intern at Sony Interactive Entertainment PlayStation in California.

*How did you find your job/internship?

I first saw this internship post on LinkedIn, and later it was posted on Zocalo, an online job board at MIIS.

*What experiences at MIIS?

Through taking courses in TLM, I have gained knowledge of localization project management, CAT tools, Python, desktop publishing and translation. Putting all the course names on my resume helped make it more relevant to the localization intern positions I wanted to apply for. I was also able to be more confident during the interviews with concepts of the localization industry in mind. Besides the coursework, I think having individual career meetings with my Career Advisor was the biggest help in securing my internship position. Those one-on-one discussions helped me figure out what internship position I was interested in. My Career Advisor conducted mock interviews with me, connected me with MIIS alumni, revised my resume and helped me polish my professional presence.

*What advice would you share with MIIS students?

The most important lesson I’ve learned during my first year at MIIS is to always be open to different opportunities and never stop stepping out of my comfort zone. I personally think MIIS is a great place to meet people from all over the world, and it’s been rewarding for me to not simply focus on the coursework, but also to meet new friends and try things I’ve never tried before. In the professional aspect, attending localization conferences and events have helped me learn more about the localization industry and build my network in the localization industry.

 

Winnie Heh

Career Advisor

MIIS

Trait Trees for LSP Project Managers

MIIS alumna, Sijing Yu (MATLM ‘16) won the GALA 2017 Rising Star Award. I am thrilled to share the  winning essay on my blog.  Congrats, Sijing!  We are proud of you!

https://www.gala-global.org/publications/trait-trees-lsp-project-managers-rising-star-winner?utm_content=51077548&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter

Winnie Heh

Career & Academic Advisor

Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

MIIS DC Career Exploration Week Reflection

I had a fruitful time participating in the DC Exploration Week as a first-year T&I student (English-Chinese-Spanish). I only attended four information sessions in my field of study since the rest are only open to citizens/permanent residents or are non-language related: the Inter-American Development Bank, Organization of American States, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. I also attended the reception on Thursday night at the MIIS DC office. Since my dream is to one day become a staff interpreter at an international organization, the trip was very informative and valuable. I learned a lot through the info sessions that I would like to share here.

First of all, it was very encouraging to see so many of our alumni in these international organizations. All of the info sessions I went to had MIIS alumni on their staff. They were very happy to see current students thinking about their careers early on. I only wish there were more MIIS students from the T&I program! We have a relatively large program, but the info sessions had no more than 15 attendees at a time and from only one or two language programs, which was a bit disappointing given how much work the organizations put into organizing the sessions for us.

Attending info sessions is one of the best ways to research about the organizations. Our hosts were translation section chiefs, HR directors, senior program managers, among others. Their hour-long info sessions usually stretched to an hour and a half, and in some cases two hours, as they gave us crash courses on their organization and how their language unit works (and some even showed us the booths!). Some of them even gave us answers to questions that we may be asked in interviews.  Although I put a few hours into researching the organizations prior to attending, nothing came close to being as helpful as talking to people who actually work there. The alums were especially cordial and some gave us their contact information.

It’s a long and winding road to becoming a staff interpreter/translator at an international organization, and our best way to proceed is to hear early how to prepare from the staff. As I discovered during the past few days, in-house opportunities at international organizations are few and getting fewer (due to budget cuts proposed by the new administration, and the growing trend of outsourcing around 70% of their translation and interpretation work). There is also a gap between most students’ professional capacity and the level required for international organizations, which look for mid-career professionals. So here comes the catch-22 regarding experience: how do you get experience when nobody wants to hire you if you don’t have any? Fortunately, there is a way out. Our alums at the World Bank (WB) specifically pointed out that we need in order to (1) get our foot in the door, (2) have specialized knowledge in a field (or more) other than languages, and (3) get the right kind of exposure.

Regarding (1): one of the alumni started as an assistant photo editor at one of the international organizations on a short-term contract, and another worked on aligning texts. At first, they were not thrilled about having graduated from MIIS and having to do something unrelated to their training and aspirations, but they stuck with it, let the higher ups know about their core skills, and eventually got the positions they wanted.

Regarding (2): with 70% of the T&I work outsourced, the language departments at international organizations are functioning less like translation/interpretation teams and more like LSPs within their own organizations. For example, one of the biggest “requesters” (in WB lingo) for WB’s language services is ICSID (International Center for the Settlement of Trade Disputes, part of the World Bank Group), and the translation chief emphasized that they look for people who can work at the conference level, bi-directionally, and with specialized knowledge in economics and law. The specialized knowledge does not have to come from formal training – reading books, researching, and teaching ourselves is an essential part of being a good translator/interpreter.

Regarding (3): for students with no experience in the field, volunteering can be a good start. TED has subtitling opportunities and Translators Without Borders offer a chance to practice language skills while contributing to a good cause. Gradually, one should aim for higher profile work (the T&I world is very small and word of mouth matters a lot). It is also important to get to know the chief interpreters/translators (the people at the international organizations who staff their events and translation teams) – sending résumés and asking about freelance opportunities is a good way to make initial contact, since these organizations are constantly seeking to expand their rosters. Some will give tests (in which case, do not shy away!) and some will rely on recommendations by senior professionals they have worked with before, so it is important to start early and build a portfolio.

Lastly, skills other than translation/interpretation itself are becoming increasingly important. Many international organizations are working with CAT tools (many of them are transitioning to the UN’s own CAT-tool, eLUNA), and they recommend getting familiar with as many kinds as possible. Terminology management is also important – although it seems like no organization aside from WIPO looks for terminologists, these organizations expect translators and interpreters to contribute to terminology management. Being able to work in teams is indispensable – translation departments at international organizations process over a dozen million words per year, and to be a successful translator, one has to know how to collaborate with colleagues (in addition to working under tight deadlines, being meticulous about details, and being able to revise their own work, among others).

Personally, I found the info sessions very helpful – I had already applied to internships at two of the organizations by the time I attended the sessions, and since international organizations tend to move very slowly, it was also my chance to express my interest and gently nudge them to look out for my application.

Final advice I have to future attendees:

  • Use the student & alumni reception as a great networking opportunity. Exchange your cards with your friends/classmates so you can work more efficiently (wish I thought of this earlier!). Plus, looking out for each other is not just the right thing to do; it will bring good professional “karma”.
  • Showing up is half the success. Try to go if you have an opportunity. How else would you stand out among the thousands of applicants to the few dozens of internship opportunities? Once you can have them put a face to a name, you are already ahead of the game.
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions and talk with the presenters after the info session. The organizers appreciate thoughtful questions, and especially if they are MIIS alumni, they want to see you succeed.
  • Of course, dress professionally and think of yourself as a young professional. Don’t feel intimidated (guilty as charged but I will improve next year)!

Zilin Cui

MACI 2018

Middlebury Institute of International

Studies at Monterey

I Took the Career Management Class. Now What?

Dear T, TI, and CI Students:

Happy New Year! And welcome back! I hope you have had a productive Winter Break. I had a wonderful time visiting relatives and friends in Sichuan, China and Taiwan. I am back, ready for another great year.

I would like to say THANK YOU to the students from my Career Management class last semester. Eight-four percent of you responded to the class evaluation compared with 50% from last year. I value your feedback as it helps me zero in on how to better support you. Your comments pointed out you have the following needs after the completion of the Career Management class.

I. Information:

Particular positions in the T&I business world

Specific companies and organizations as employers

What people in certain positions do.

Employer expectations

II. Practice:

Opportunity to practice interviews

Practice the skills learned in class

Practice networking and elevator pitch

III. Others:

How to access alumni

Learn more about Career Fair

If you would like more information or practice, please see me. Given that you come from diverse background with various career aspirations, I am happy to work on a personalized plan to tackle your specific needs. I told you in our first class that I am your “personal trainer.” This is the time to put it into practice!

2nd year students, this offer is extended to you as well.

I look forward to working with you.

Best,

Winnie Heh

Career & Academic Advisor

MIIS

My CAT Story

When I was a translation student at MIIS in the late 80’s, the concept of “localization” as a service provided by language professionals never came up in our training – I am from the “pre-L10N” era.  I did not come into contact with Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) until 2008 when my employer acquired a language services provider (LSP), Lingo Language Services, now named LanguageLine Translation Solutions (LLTS) in Portland, OR.  LLTS’ core competency was and still is software localization.  Having spent close to 20 years of my career in the LSP space focusing on remote interpretation, I found myself having to learn the new language of localization – file preparation, translation memory, translation management system, term base, and CAT.  I also found myself managing as many engineers as I did project managers.  For the next 6 years, I would work with the LLTS team on selection of tools and measurement of operating efficiency thanks to these tools, but I never had the time or mind share to actually learn and use them.  This is why as soon as I could start taking classes as a MIIS employee, I chose to take Adam Wooten’s CAT class.

Though Adam Wooten’s class is named “Introduction to CAT”, its scope reaches beyond introduction to various CAT tools. It is an excellent introduction to language technology including CAT tools, machine translation & post-editing, controlled languages & authoring, interpretation technology, as well as numerous tips and insights regarding the business of translation.

Leveraging Hands-on Learning of CAT Tools

The aspect of the class that I was most interested in was the hands-on use of CAT tools. As Adam Wooten stated in the syllabus, this is about knowing “how to complete basic linguistics-focused functions in SDL Trados Studio 2015 including but not limited to translation memory creation, reuse of previous translations, terminology management, quality assurance, and translation editing according to best practices.”   My objective was to learn the functionalities of a typical CAT tool, and thereby enable myself to learn other CAT tools with efficiency in the future.  To my delight, our class had a “Learning How to Learn a CAT Tool” component.  The learning objective was understanding “different components of SDL Trados Suite 2015 well enough to learn a completely new CAT tool on one’s own.”   Equipped with my knowledge of Trados, I was able to learn memoQ effectively on my own as an assignment.

Machine Translation

The class on machine translation (MT) and post-editing was another fascinating experience.   We reviewed and compared rule-based MT and statistical MT.  Tanya Badeka and Juan Rowda, both of eBay, spoke to us on how eBay utilizes MT and post-editing to manage accuracy given the tremendous daily volume of work.  The recent announcement of Google neutral machine translation (NMT) added to the depth of our discussions and debates in class.  Our discussion on voice-to-voice machine interpretation heightened my awareness of the role voice recognition tools may play to expedite file preparation and translation output.  In my final project, I saved file preparation time by 75% by using the speech to text input method rather than word processing in Chinese.  I plan to experiment with using sight translation for production in the future.

Will MT Replace Human Translation?

MT is here to stay and scientists will continue to make improvements to it. Will MT replace translators?  The answer is:  It has already replaced some.  According to Tanya Badeka and Juan Rowda, eBay’s in-house Linguists train MT systems rather than translate.  Will MT replace translators completely?  Not likely.  MT scientists agree that there are still significant obstacles to be overcome and it is not for lack of available computing power.  The upside is MT will create new positions.  In a presentation at the American Translators Association in November, 2017, Jay Marciano listed the following positions that will be created thanks to AI:

– Translation Technology Expert

– Language Technology Analyst

– Language Process Analyst

– Machine Learning Supervisor

– Machine Learning Evaluator

– Language/Communication Analyst

– Semantic Analyst

– Translation Quality Assessor

– Data Collector

– Data Scientist

– Data Curator

– Terminologist

– Corpus Linguist

– Computational Linguist

– Premium Translators

– Premium Interpreter

Lessons Learned From Final Assignment

Our final project was to simulate a real-life translation/localization project. Here is my project overview:

overview

Here is an example of the Chinese source text file provided by the client in PDF format which is not in a translatable file format in Trados and the MS Word file as the output from a voice to text exercise. What I estimated to be a 2-hour data entry exercise was completed in 30 minutes by using voice to text input method.

text-to-speech

Here are my lessons learned.

lessons-learned-slide

Was it Worth the Investment of Time?

I have been asked: “You are not likely to be looking for a job as a translator or a localization project manager.  Why are you investing the time to learn CAT?”  First of all, I wanted to have hands-on CAT experience for translation projects in my own multilingual family, a goal that I expected to achieve and have achieved. As a Career Advisor, I am always thinking about how I can best position my students to employers.  This class gave me more up-to-date and specific concepts and language to do so.

What I did not expect was how out of my comfort zone I was. On reflection, I realized that the excellent IT support I received at work and, indeed, at home has put me out of touch with basic trouble-shooting knowledge and skills.  What used to be a blessing became a challenge when I had to handle tools hands-on.  While my classmates were zipping through their class exercise, I was trying to find the file types.  This class was a growth opportunity.

I cannot say enough about how wonderful our Professor Adam Wooten is. He is clearly a practitioner in the field day in and day out who is excellent at making his insights accessible to the students.  His commitment to the students is commendable.  He met with every one of his more than 100 students at the start of the semester and he had every team formally present their sales proposal to him for their final project.  As a Career Advisor, I especially appreciate the career management tips that he so generously worked into his presentations.  I am grateful for having the opportunity to take this class almost 30 years after I graduated from MIIS.

 

Winnie Heh

Career & Academic Advisor

wheh@miis.edu

 

How Anelix Diaz Landed a Job Balancing Translation & Interpretation

Anelix Diaz (2nd from the right) with her colleagues Ana Chaidez, Anna Cabrera, and Sofía Rubalcava
Anelix Diaz (2nd from the right) with her colleagues Ana Chaidez, Anna Cabrera, and Sofía Rubalcava

One of the benefits of my job as a Career Advisor is that I can learn through the exciting and interesting work that MIIS alumni and students do.  Even though I have been in the language industry for 20+ years, I knew very little about interpreting in the educational setting.  That is why I jumped on the opportunity to learn more from Anelix Diaz (MATI ’16).  Anelix has always impressed me as an intelligent and diligent professional.  Working with her through her job search and now listening to her reflection, what stands out for me is how level-headed she was in an uncertain time.  Her passion for the profession and her sincerity in sharing her learnings also come through so clearly in the following interview.  Bravo, Anelix!  So proud of you!

Q:  Please tell us about yourself.

A:  I am Puerto Rican, though I was born in Oklahoma (yes, odd combination). Since junior high I have known that I wanted to be an interpreter, which is why I chose to study Modern Languages (French and German) at the University of Puerto Rico. Upon graduating, I took a year off to dedicate time to some important decisions I needed to make in my life, such as considering graduate schools and deciding what the next step was. That time also served me well in terms of gaining practical professional experience in the fields of interpreting and translating prior to pursuing a Master’s degree at MIIS. Last May I graduated from the Institute with a M.A. in Translation and Interpretation. I always like to challenge myself, which is why my current position as a District Translator and Interpreter for Special Education at the Santa Barbara Unified School District is such a good fit.

Q:  What is your typical day like?

A:  Every day is different. I arrive and check both my email and calendar to see if there are events taking place that day and if interpretation services are needed. Then, I start working on pending translations, which are mostly Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), but they can also be Individualized Health Care Plans, handbooks or Board Meeting Agendas, among other document types. In sum, I would say that 80% of my job is translating and 20% is interpreting.

As for interpretation, we interpret at IEP meetings for high profile cases. Since I work in the Special Education Department, I have access to the Special Education Information System. That is where I can look up students’ IEP by name, school, etc. If I have time, I review the student’s current IEP to familiarize myself with background information and better prepare for the meeting. The Student Attendance Review Board also requires our services at biweekly meetings with parents and students. If the student is in Special Education, I interpret simultaneously using our portable equipment. Otherwise, my coworker, who works for the General Education Department, interprets. There are also many opportunities to work overtime if you choose to do so. Since my job mostly involves translating, I like to take advantage of them to continue honing my interpretation skills. It also gives you a chance to learn about what’s happening at the school sites, where the district is heading, and to meet teachers, psychologists, paraeducators, etc. from those sites.

Q: Why did you choose to enter this field?

A: The first time I considered the possibility of working for a school district was after a workshop I attended at the 2015 ATA Conference and after I met two extraordinary women at the conference, who are now my coworkers. Those last few months in Monterey were hard for me. I was at a point in my life where I needed to be honest with myself about how and where I wanted to apply the skills I acquired at MIIS. I sat down and reflected on my personal and professional goals. I loved the idea of working as a conference interpreter on the East Coast, but I wasn’t sure whether that was what I truly wanted and if it would make me happy. I knew it would be easier to start out in California, since I was already living here. I needed a job that would not only be rewarding and exciting, but also one that allowed me to afford living in this state. Finding a job where there could be a balance between translation and interpretation was key as well. I had received an offer from a translation agency in Santa Barbara to work mostly as a project manager, but I wasn’t convinced, for many reasons. I was, however, already very interested in working in the education field and serving both families and students. I always like to challenge myself and broaden my horizons. So I searched on Zocalo, Google and LinkedIn and applied for several school districts. Unfortunately, when I saw the pay I knew it wasn’t enough to afford living here. Shortly thereafter, I became aware that the Santa Barbara Unified School District was looking for a District Translator and Interpreter for Special Education. I was initially hesitant, thinking I wouldn’t land the job because so many people would apply and I had no experience whatsoever interpreting in that field. I still decided to go for it and just hoped for the best. The job description and the fact that there were opportunities for professional development appealed to me. The pay was also good. And, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to live in beautiful, sunny Santa Barbara? I was shocked when I found out I had landed the job. I was truly grateful for the fact that I was given the opportunity to show what I could bring to the table.

Q:  How did your education at MIIS prepare you for your current position?

A:  MIIS not only provided me with solid research, translation, and consecutive and simultaneous interpretation skills, but also opened the door to endless opportunities for professional growth. Thanks to MIIS, I’ve met an extraordinary network of people from different backgrounds, perspectives, and languages. I learned so much about others, including myself. I continue to set the same high standards my professors set when I was a student. Complacency and I don’t get along well. I always look for ways to continue improving and growing professionally.

Q:  For those interested in entering your field, how do you recommend that they prepare themselves?

A:  Interpreting skills are undoubtedly important. However, it goes far beyond that. It’s about making quick decisions and using your best judgment during tense, sometimes awkward moments when interpreting. If you do choose to work in this field, keep in mind that most of the cases you will encounter are emotionally taxing. I never thought they would affect me personally. Just last week, I was at a meeting with my coworker, who was to interpret. After the student attendance panel reviewed a student’s case, I felt awful and was about to cry. I told my coworker I needed to leave immediately because I couldn’t take it anymore. So if you’re very, very emotional, then you might want to think twice. With regard to skills, I highly recommend students continue practicing interpretation using portable equipment, both indoors and outdoors. We don’t have booths. There are times when our job gets challenging because we can’t hear well and have to adjust accordingly.

Q:  What is it that you know now that you wish you knew as you started your job search 6 months ago?

A:  I’ve always been realistic and I knew since the beginning that looking for the right job wasn’t going to be an easy task. I knew I had to be flexible and open. I was also aware that I had to be patient when waiting for employers to respond. I would say that I regret not taking Holly Mikkelson’s community and medical interpreting courses. You would think that all the material you translate and interpret is only about “education.” Well, it just so happens that we do a little bit of everything. One day you could be translating a legal document and the next day you might be working with technical medical terminology. Therefore, my recommendation for all students is to learn about everything they can, no matter how insignificant it might seem at first. You never know when you will need the knowledge.

Winnie Heh
Career & Academic Advisor
wheh@miis.edu

Alicia Dominick’s Summer Internships from California to Arizona to Peru

Alicia Dominick MA in Translation 2017 English/Spanish Maricopa County Superior Court (U.S.A.) Bilingual Language Services (Peru)
Alicia Dominick
MA in Translation 2017 English/Spanish
Maricopa County Superior Court (U.S.A.)
Bilingual Language Services (Peru)
Alicia Dominick is pursuing an MA in Spanish Translation with a specialization in Community Interpreting. She is from Phoenix, Arizona and holds a Bachelor’s degrees in English and Spanish Linguistics from Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University. While at ASU, Alicia completed the Spanish Translation Certificate program as well as an honors thesis on literary translation titled “The Educational Value of Translation,” through which she was the first translator of a work by Andrés Bello into English.
This summer, Alicia participated in translation and interpretation internships at Maricopa County Superior Court (Phoenix, AZ) and Bilingual Language Services (Lima, Peru). I interview Alicia to learn more about her experience.

Q1: What were your top 3 criteria as you selected your internship(s)?

First and foremost, I was looking for one or two internships that would work with my schedule and summer plans. Before I even started searching for an internship, I knew that I had a wedding to attend during the first week of July. As trivial as it might sound, that wedding was really important to me and therefore I didn’t want a 3-month-long internship on a different continent that would force me to travel back and forth twice to the US – just imagine the cost of four flights to Latin America! (One internship I really wanted was located in Argentina and required a 3-month commitment, so I had to turn it down for this reason.) Besides the dates/timing issue, I was concerned about the location of the internship (based on cost and whether the country had my A or B language), and I really wanted to try interpreting in real life, if at all possible.

Q2: What did you learn about your field during your internship?

I had been under the impression that in my B-language country, I would only be interpreting and translating into my A language. However, I would say that 60% of everything I interpreted (and maybe 40% of translations) was into my B language! Moreover, I was expecting all the conference interpreters in Peru to be native English-speakers like me, since in the US most interpreters are native Spanish-speakers (and the needs are opposite); however, I only met one interpreter in Peru who was an English A. This means that interpreters in Peru (and probably other Latin American countries) are expected to interpret simultaneously in both directions, although editing and revision are almost always done exclusively in a person’s native language.

Q3: What did you learn about yourself during your internship?

I really narrowed down my career goals this summer. I tried to envision myself in each of the different roles that I observed (court interpreters, translators, conference interpreters, project managers, etc.), and I just could not see myself as a project manager: personality-wise, I’d rather complete a task someone gives me than assign one to someone else. I also realized that I would feel much more comfortable specializing in one area of expertise in either translation or interpretation rather than interpret at a myriad of different conferences and never quite be an expert on one thing.

Q4: From the employers’ perspective what does a good intern look like?

If you are polite, bring a positive vibe to the workplace, and are receptive to new ideas (and constructive feedback), then you will be a fabulous intern. Employers and fellow employees will respect you if you respect them and show that you are willing to try new things as a part of your learning experience. Ask them questions about their careers, and not only will it give you professional insight, but it will make you memorable!

Q5: Any words of wisdom you would like to share?

Make sure to bring your business cards to your internships, and never underestimate the power of an old-fashioned thank-you note! On the last day at my court interpreting internship, my classmate and I gave everyone in the department a small thank-you note with a piece of chocolate and both of our business cards. Everyone loved the gesture, and it ensured that we were memorable as potential job candidates. I did something similar at my second internship, and both workplaces invited me to come back as an intern (or employee!) in the future. I also handed out my business cards to any new conference interpreter or project manager I met in Peru, thinking that this might help me expand my professional network in a different part of the world. You never know!

Winnie Heh
Career & Academic Advisor
wheh@miis.edu

Gaya Saghatelyan Shares Her Summer Experience Interning at Autodesk

Gaya Saghatelyan MA Translation & Localization Management English/ French
Gaya Saghatelyan
MA Translation & Localization Management
English/ French

Growing up in a multicultural environment, Gaya Saghatelyan has always been passionate about languages and culture. In college, Gaya studied Business Administration at a French business school. As an undergraduate student, she worked for the Embassy of Switzerland in Armenia as an in-house translator and interpreter (English/French/Russian/Armenian) — that’s how she discovered her passion for the language profession. Upon graduation, Gaya decided to leave the language industry and start a career in business administration. But not for long. After a year of working for a software company based in Los Angeles, she began to feel that something was missing in her career and decided to “go back to her roots,” as she puts it. Gaya is currently pursuing an MA in Translation and Localization Management, where she combines her passion for languages, technology and business.

This summer, Gaya did a 3-month Localization Program Management internship at Autodesk, a 3D design software company based in San Rafael. Gaya talked about her experience at Autodesk during my Career Management class. I did a follow up interview with her to learn more about the internship.

Q1: What were your top 3 criteria as you selected your internship(s)?

  1. Location: I looked for an internship in the US and abroad. I was especially interested in doing an internship in France to practice my B language and learn from a different business culture. On the other hand, I wanted to expose myself to software localization, and the Bay Area was perfect for that.
  2. LSP or Client: I wanted to gain experience in project/ program management working for an LSP, because it offers a versatile learning environment. I also wanted to explore software localization and experience what it would be like to work for a big company.
  3. The environment: In the process of interviewing for different internships, I paid attention to the overall dynamic and atmosphere between myself and the hiring manager. It was important to me that the company (and the hiring manager) have specific objectives for the internship and an internship plan. I wanted to make sure that the hiring manager could be my mentor.

Q2: What did you learn about your field during your internship?

I learned that localization can sometimes be perceived as a cost center, therefore one of the most important roles of a program manager in localization is to control cost, evangelize localization best-practices and create a long-lasting relationship with stakeholders.

In addition, I learned that software localization is evolving rapidly in response to changes in software development practices. The cadence of software localization is strongly dependent on the software release cycle, which requires localization teams to adopt a continuous localization strategy.

Finally, as a localization program manager, your role is very diverse: from cost management to vendor communication, from knowledge management to stakeholder analysis — there’s never a dull day!

Q3: What did you learn about yourself during your internship?

Autodesk Localization Team
Autodesk Localization Team

During my internship I discovered, once again, that human interaction and collaboration are very important to me. I also learned that I thrive in a dynamic environment where I can learn new things and work with different teams. Lastly, I realized that although I didn’t particularly enjoy accounting and finance in college, I love numbers! Anytime I was faced with a new task or wanted to understand how a project was structured, I turned to the data.

Q4: From the employers’ perspective what does a good intern look like?

A good intern takes initiative to benefit from the experience and contribute to the team. As an intern, you may think you don’t have a lot to contribute, but you do! A good intern observes and asks questions with the purpose of understanding the business and contributing fresh insights. A good intern also interacts with everyone on the team and takes initiative to become a part of the company culture.

Q5: Any words of wisdom you would like to share?

These are things that I think made my internship successful and I hope they will help students during their future internships:

  1. Find a mentor: Work closely with your manager and express interest in projects.
  2. Be open to new opportunities: You may be set on a specific career path you want to pursue, but you never know where the road may take you! Be open to exploring new opportunities.
  3. Use what you learn at MIIS: I didn’t know all the tools and processes when I started my internship, but what I learned during my first year at MIIS taught me to think like a localization manager.
  4. Do a final presentation: At the end of your internship, ask your Manager for a review of your work and suggest doing a final presentation for the team you worked with. This will leave a lasting impression on your team and showcase, once again, your growth throughout the summer.
  5. Stay in touch: Make connections with everyone at the company and stay in touch! Don’t underestimate the power of human interaction.

Do you have a question for Gaya? You can connect with her via LinkedIn or reach her at saghatelyan.gayane(at)gmail.com

 

Winnie Heh
Career & Academic Advisor
wheh@miis.edu

Lucía Falcón’s Passion for Legal Interpreting Takes Her to NY DA’s Office

Before starting her journey at MIIS, Lucía Falcón Palomar worked as an attorney and legal translator in Mexico. She is a sworn legal translator certified by the Supreme Court of the State of Jalisco, Mexico. Lucía has worked for four years as a legal assistant and attorney at several law firms in Guadalajara, Mexico, specializing in corporate and notarial law. In addition to Spanish and English, Lucía speaks French. She is passionate about languages, music and Lucky Charms. She is a big fan of Amélie Nothomb and Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Hercule Poirot’s way of thinking and Michael Ende’s Neverending Story. Lucía adamantly believes that language shapes thoughts.

Currently a second-year student pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Conference Interpretation, Lucía shares insights about her summer internship experience as an interpreter and translator at the District Attorney’s office in New York.

img_9515
Lucía Falcón Palomar MA Conference Interpretation 2017 Spanish/ English

Q1: What were your top 3 criteria as you selected your internship(s)?

First of all, since I am an attorney and a certified legal translator in Mexico, I wanted to intern in the legal field where I could learn from the American attorneys about the American legal system and their work.

Secondly, I want to work on the East Coast when I graduate and I had never been to the East Coast before this summer, so I wanted to know what it was like before actually making the decision to look for a job there.

Thirdly, it was extremely important for me to start networking with potential employers and/or colleagues. I wanted to see what the Federal Court in New York is like, and I also wanted to meet professional interpreters from the DA’s office and the Supreme Court.

 Q2: What did you learn about your field during your internship?

I learned extensively about everything I wanted to learn. First of all, I learned how the system works from the inside. This was an extremely valuable takeaway for me, since I am very interested in legal translation and interpretation/court interpreting.  When you fully understand your field, you can be a better translator or interpreter.

Moreover, I finally had the opportunity to work in a “real” interpretation setting, where people were actually depending on me in order to communicate and solve their problems. This was an amazing takeaway because it was when I realized that communicating is everything in this field and that being perfect is not what people you are working for are expecting from you: the most important part of this job is getting the message through as accurately as possible.

Q3: What did you learn about yourself during your internship?Lucía Falcón Palomar

This internship reaffirmed that I want to be a court interpreter or interpret and translate in a legal setting. I realized how much I like helping people communicate among one another, which motivated me to do a better job in every possible way.

Q4: From the employers’ perspective what does a good intern look like?

Good interns should have a thirst for knowledge. They have to be curious, professional, and always motivated by the passion of liking what they are doing. In addition, remaining humble is always extremely important; understanding that we do not know everything and that we can always learn more, regardless of the experience that we may have.

Q5: Any words of wisdom you would like to share?

I would tell you that the most important thing of being an intern is having the opportunity to get to know professionals from the field you want to work in, to learn from them and to start building your network. Be curious.  Do not be afraid to ask questions or to ask for clarifications when you do not understand something. People appreciate this.  It means you are interested and passionate in what you are doing.  It also means that you want to grow both as a person and as a professional. Stay humble and as one very good interpreter once wrote: “You are not a machine. Think about communicating, rather than interpreting/translating, and do not be afraid to contribute the attributes that make you a unique enabler. But remember that good communicators make it all about their interlocutors. Good interpreters take genuine interest in those on the receiving end.” Good luck!

Have a question for Lucía? You can connect with her via email, luciafalcon(at)yahoo.com or LinkedIn.

 

Winnie Heh
Career & Academic Advisor
wheh@miis.edu