Author Archives: Gayane Saghatelyan

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

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

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.

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) or LinkedIn.


Winnie Heh
Career & Academic Advisor





From Taiwan to Poland, from the US to Thailand. Where Frances’ Language Skills Took Her.

MA Translation, 2017 Chinese/English/Russian
MA Translation, 2017

Frances Pao-Fang Chang is a MAT (Master in Translation – Chinese/English/Russian) candidate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Prior to coming to MIIS, she obtained a B.A. in Russian Language and Literature from the National Chengchi University in Taiwan, and an MBA from Warsaw University in Poland. She had worked in a Taiwanese-based multinational company for 5 years as a Project Coordinator and Cost Manager before returning to school to pursue her passion for languages.

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

My internship was selected based on the size of the company, its location and the benefits it offered. Star-Group is the 6th biggest company in the language services industry. The internship was in Bangkok with airfare and accommodation covered.

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

The language services industry is changing dynamically with the emergence of cloud-based software. There should be more and more collaborative work in the field. I also learned the value of keeping well-trained in-house translators.

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

I prefer to do market research and business analysis rather than doing pure translation work. I also learned that where I will work upon graduation is no longer as important as I thought. The most important thing is whether the job itself fits your career path.

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

A person who takes initiatives and has the perseverance to finish every task will gain more from the internship and leave a positive impression with the employer. Our supervisor encouraged us to interact with local employees. I’d like to add that, in a multicultural setting, it is paramount to respect each other’s cultures.

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

-Every step counts. Think long-term. Have an open mind. And of course… really enjoy the summer and make tons of friends!

Do you have a question for Frances? You can reach her at paofangc(at)


Winnie Heh
Career & Academic Advisor

Kaya Doi on her Experience Interpreting in the Automotive Industry

Kaya Doi MA Translation & Interpretation Japanese/ English
Kaya Doi
MA Translation & Interpretation
Japanese/ English

Kaya Doi is a 2nd-year Japanese/English Translation and Interpretation student at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS). Before coming to MIIS, Kaya studied at the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan, where she majored in Media, Communication, and Culture. While studying at the University, she volunteered as a community interpreter for international mothers. Upon graduation, she co-taught Elementary and Intermediate Japanese courses at Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA as a Japanese Language Assistant.

This summer Kaya did an internship first at Goken America and then Honda R&D. I interviewed Kaya to learn about her experience.

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

My 3 top criteria were:

1) in-house/onsite

2) a totally unfamiliar field

3) paid internship

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

I was fascinated by how interdisciplinary the automotive field is. I was given the chance to learn about it through the lens of design and engineering, technology, management, and finance, among others. Also, I was amazed to see how the automotive industry attracted people from all over the world, in particular, creating a large Japanese diaspora in Ohio.

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

I loved the social interaction that came with the in-house experience. My motivation for interpreting and translating for others grew as I got to know my other colleagues, especially the young engineers who were also starting out their careers. I felt that much of my learning took place thanks to these good interpersonal relationships.

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

Someone who is curious and willing to reach out to others.

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

“Planned Happenstance” – Look forward to the unexpected opportunities!


Winnie Heh
Career & Academic Advisor

Medical Interpreting Through the Eyes of Sara Garvi

Sara Garvi (MACI, Candidate 2017) is a sworn translator and interpreter (English >< Spanish, French > Spanish). She graduated from the University of Alicante (Spain) in 2013 with a degree in Translation and Interpretation. Upon graduation, she was appointed sworn translator and interpreter by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and worked as a freelance medical interpreter at several hospitals in Spain. Sara moved to the US in 2014 to join the Spanish Department at Illinois College, where she taught for three semesters while working with the local Hispanic community to develop their written and spoken English.
This summer Sara completed two medical interpretation internships in different hospitals (Stanford Healthcare and Mt. Sinai Hospital) and eventually decided to get officially certified by the National Certification Commission of Healthcare Interpreters to pursue a career in Medical Interpretation and Translation. I interviewed Sara to learn about her summer experience and takeaways.
Sara Garvi MA Conference Interpretation 2017 Spanish/English Stanford Healthcare (California, U.S.A.) Mount Sinai St. Luke Hospital (New York, U.S.A.)
Sara Garvi
MA Conference Interpretation 2017 Spanish/English

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

  • Does it offer me the possibility to practice interpreting?
  • Will it have a practical use in my future career track?
  • Is it paid? (I feel like at this point we should all be compensated for our work!)

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

I learned that real life is not as stressful and demanding as at MIIS. In class, your peers comment on your performance in order to provide you with constructive criticism, whereas in real-life situations there are no peers, just the goal of making communication possible.

Q3: What did you learn about yourself during your internshipSara Garví ?

I learned that I am more hardworking than I thought! I think that once you find what you like, it doesn’t feel like work or duty anymore, so you truly begin to enjoy the extra hours and all the effort and dedication put into preparing to be a better professional.

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

A good intern is always willing to cooperate and turns every little thing into a learning opportunity. A good intern is someone who goes the extra mile when something needs to be done and who shows a positive attitude to make the work environment more manageable for everyone.

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

In the medical interpretation field, you never know enough; so, constant research and preparation are very important! It is extremely challenging in terms of terminology, emotionally draining in terms of your daily interaction with patients… but it is one of the most rewarding and human professions I know.

Winnie Heh
Career & Academic Advisor