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



To 2nd Yr T, TI, CI Students:

This checklist is designed to assess your job search skills and strategies. Your answers to the following questions may help you identify areas of focus.  Answer each question “Yes” or “No.”  Then tally your answers to discover which areas need to be strengthened.  You can also go beyond the “yes/no” answer and jot down your answers.  It is a great way to start collecting your unique “career data”!  Please review your results with me as a way to jump start your career management activities in your 2nd year in the T&I program.  I look forward to working with you.

Click on the link to access the check list.

Click to access 2nd%20Yr%20CM%20Check%20List%20Final.pdf

Winnie Heh

Career & Academic Advisor

The Eco-System of Language Professionals

Blog 11 Eco System Picture

Ten months ago, I returned to my alma mater, the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, as Career and Academic Advisor specializing in the translation and interpretation programs. My first “cultural shock” came when the incoming 1st year students answered my question:  “What are your career aspirations?”  To my surprise, 90% of them want to become diplomatic interpreters.  I applaud them for aiming high, but I also knew the world they graduate into offers them an abundance of career choices.  There are many careers within the language field, such as diplomatic interpreting, that can be deeply gratifying and rewarding.  My students motivated me to “paint the big picture” and “connect the dots” for the wide spectrum of career choices.  I created the “Eco-System for Language Professionals” to paint the possibilities.  I want my students to make career choices after they have contemplated their own interests and options rather than going for a default answer.

My graphic depiction attempts to show the possibilities rather than a complete list. I have no doubt that new jobs will continue to show up.  All of the jobs here are real and I have held or managed many of these positions during my 25-year career in the language services industry.  Language professionals can transition among these positions with the understanding that each move requires education (formal or informal), networking, and diligence.

You may say: “I get it.  There are many career options in the language world, but are there really career opportunities for me?”  The answer is “yes.”  Here are some good news I would like to share with you.

  1. Big industry: According to Common Sense Advisory, the outsourced language services is worth US$38.16 billion in 2015. Please not this amount does not account for the money spent by government and NGOs on providing language services.
  2. High growth: Common Sense Advisory is predicting that this market will grow to $47 billion in 2018.
  3. Globalization helps us: According to Byte Level Research, the top 25 websites support an average of 52 languages.
  4. New U.S. import tax law helps: The U.S. raised the import duty exemptions in April, 2016. Overseas eCommerce merchants are expected to increase their efforts to reach U.S. consumers which will create opportunities to localize communication into English.

If you choose to live in this eco-system, with exposure and focused learning, you have many future career options to move into.  What are your thoughts?


Winnie Heh

Career & Academic Advisor

Grace Under Fire – A Rewarding Career as Medical Interpreter

photo Alison Rives

According to the latest industry survey conducted by the Association of Language Companies (ALC), the biggest revenue-generating sector for U.S. LSPs is the hospital and medical offices.  (See slide courtesy of the ALC below)  This is clearly a sector that will continue to need talents.  I sat down with MIIS alumna Alison Rives (MATI ’08) to learn more about her path to her current role.  Her heartfelt words of wisdom also came through clearly in this conversation.  Enjoy!


ALC Survey 052316


  1. What does your typical day look like as a medical interpreter at Mt. Sinai Health Systems?

My first priority as a medical interpreter is to respond to interpreting requests from hospital providers. The provider could be a doctor, physician assistant, nurse, social worker, physical or occupational therapist, nutritionist and others. These providers are requesting an in-person interpreter to speak to patients in outpatient and inpatient units as well as the Emergency Department including the Psychiatric Emergency Department. Medical interpreters mainly use short consecutive mode during an interpreting session although there are some situations when simultaneous is more appropriate. Interpreting sessions cover a wide variety of topics such as explaining a diagnosis, informing a patient about and obtaining consent for a medical procedure, physical and occupational therapy sessions, admissions and discharge instructions, nutritional evaluations, and social work assessments, among others.

Medical interpreters at Mt. Sinai Health Systems also conduct patient rounds. This means we visit limited English proficient (LEP) patients and educate them on their right to a medical interpreter and inform them of the service we provide. We also round on all hospital units to educate staff and providers about the proper use and documentation of interpreter services.

Furthermore, my interpreter colleagues and I are responsible for maintaining a daily log of all interpreted encounters and entering that data into a computer system for statistical purposes. Other administrative duties include monthly Quality Improvement data collection to monitor the use and documentation of interpreters in the hospital. We also request and manage contract interpreters for other languages such as ASL, Mandarin, Russian, etc. On occasion we do translations of hospital documents, as well as editing and revision of these documents.

Our Language Services department also provides several medical interpreter trainings a year. We test the language proficiency of potential medical interpreter candidates, interview them, and then train them in the classroom and in the field.

  1. What aspects of your education at MIIS do you feel prepared you well for your current work?

Apart from the obvious improvement I experienced in my language skills, MIIS prepared me to stay calm under pressure! In the classroom at MIIS you feel a certain pressure to perform in front of the professors and your classmates. Practicing in the MIIS environment taught me to keep calm. As a result, I’m able to maintain my composure (or at least display a calm composure) when the situation is tense during a medical interpretation. For example, patients or their family members may be emotional, I may have to interpret a serious diagnosis to a patient, or during a family meeting everyone may try to talk at once without waiting to hear my interpretation before speaking. It’s important in these situations to exude self-control in order to interpret accurately, manage the flow of communication, and ensure all parties feel confident in your interpretation.

At MIIS I also learned how invaluable one’s colleagues and their experience are. My graduating class at MIIS built a strong relationship of support. We constantly relied on each other for feedback to improve our translations and interpretations. I experience and try to foster the same relationship with my fellow medical interpreters to support each other and exchange information for continuing education.

  1. What are the useful tips you would like to share with our students on how to prepare themselves to be medical interpreters?

The most valuable preparation to be a medical interpreter is internships. I interned at two hospitals while I was a student at MIIS and had amazing mentors guiding me. Once I started working as a medical interpreter I also sought out the mentorship of senior interpreters whom I trusted. Beyond that, becoming a member of professional medical interpreter associations has helped me to stay abreast of what’s happening in the field of medical interpreting across the country and to maintain connections with my colleagues.

  1. What are the things that you know now that you wish you had known when you were a student at MIIS?

I wish I hadn’t been quite so sensitive to constructive criticism while at MIIS. The feedback from my MIIS professors and classmates made me a better interpreter and translator. Instead of taking the constructive criticism personally today, I use it to improve my skills.


Winnie Heh
Career & Academic Advisor

The Send-off Message of a Career Advisor



My 2nd year T&I students are about to graduate.  I spoke with them during their last “Translation and Interpretation as a Profession” class today.  This is my “send-off” message as their Career Advisor:

In the last two years, you have spent thousands of hours honing your professional skills and you are ready to be strong contributors to our profession. Here are some lessons I have learned in my professional career and would like to share with you.

First, speak your gratitude. A simple “thank you” goes a long way AND it makes you feel good saying it.

Second, I can guarantee that you will encounter setbacks in your career. When I encounter a stumbling block, I tell myself I am going to use it as a stepping stone.  Rather than allowing it to block my way, I step on it.

Third, make your communication actionable and precise. Minimize adjectives and adverbs.  Discipline yourself to use verbs, nouns and numbers.

Fourth, when you are in meetings and see people talk round and round in circles. Remind yourself of this question:  “What problem are we trying to solve?”  If it is appropriate, ask this question respectfully.  You will stand out as the voice of reason.

Fifth, Be nice to people. The best thing to do is to be nice always.  This way you don’t have to expend mental energy to remember:  Am I being nice on my way up or on my way down now?

Sixth, when my team comes to me all flustered because we have encountered a problem. This is what I say:  “No one is going to give you their good money if you can’t make their lives easier.  Problems are job security.  Be the solution.”

Seventh, don’t gossip. Eleanor Roosevelt said:  “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events and small minds discuss people.”  Stay away from small minds and strive to have great minds.

I wish you the best of luck.

Winnie Heh
Career & Academic Advisor

Precision is What my Education at MIIS Gave me to Prepare me for a Career as a Court Interpreter

Lesley Walker Headshot 022316

Lesley Walker (MATI ’05) currently works Spanish Court Interpreter for the Sacramento Superior Court. She recently sent me a number of job postings for the CA court system. She indicated to me:  “I am interested in seeing more very well-trained interpreters enter my field and I like giving back to MIIS any chance I get.”  Please read her heart-felt and insightful responses to my questions.

1. What does your typical day look like as a court interpreter?

First you’ll find out where you are assigned for the day. Depending on what county or federal district you work for, the scheduling is done differently. You might know a week in advance or five minutes in advance or you may go to the same assignment every day for your whole career (this is rare, though). Once you get to your assignment, you will either be waiting on call in an interpreters’ office or you will have to go straight to the courtroom that needs you. From there, your day depends on what kind of hearing it is you are assigned to. An arraignment, continuance, or pretrial hearing may be very brief. A trial lasts all day every day for anywhere from a couple of days to several months. As a court interpreter, you will have to be available whenever you are needed, and this may require a lot of waiting around. It is a very edge-of-your-seat job, I think. 2. What aspects of your work experience prior to becoming a court interpreter do you feel prepared you well for your current work?

I had many customer service jobs as I was growing up: video stores, restaurants, library, etc. Those were great experience for court interpreting because both require all day contact with the public. You will encounter and have to work with/for all types of people as a court interpreter.  And the varying pace of customer service jobs is also similar to court interpreting.

2. What aspects of your education at MIIS do you feel prepared you well for your current work?

Precision. My professors at MIIS were very demanding and over the course of my two years there I learned to be exact. In court interpreting, that is critical. You will not pass the test without it. And the people using your work in the courtroom to do their jobs (judges, attorneys, and court reporters) will notice and appreciate it.

3. What are the useful tips you would like to share with our students on how to prepare for the CA Court Certification?

Two things are key. Number one: study with Holly Mikkelson’s materials ( I am not being paid to promote her! I just think if you can do her exercises then you can pass the test. Number two: feel free to correct yourself about an interpretation during the exam. If you are like me, you sometimes think of the perfect interpretation of a word about three seconds after you’ve said out loud a not-so-perfect interpretation of the word. On the exam (and in real life), you can say, “That is…” or “Rather…” or “Interpreter correction…” and your last utterance will be taken as your answer. Don’t do it excessively because that affects your overall style grade. But you can correct yourself on the exam.

4. What are the things that you know now that you wish you had known when you were a student at MIIS?

During my studies at MIIS, I started having lots of random body aches and pains that continued once I started court interpreting. I think I was physically tense from trying to behave like a language machine. What I know now is that I am not a machine and it’s best if I don’t act like one–bring yourself, your personality, your flaws, and your strengths to every job you do. You will be taking much better care of yourself and your performance will be the same or better.


Winnie Heh
Career & Academic Advisor

Career Management is a Process of Self-Discovery – Three Takeaways from My First Semester at MIIS

Blog 7 Gayane Saghatelyan

My first semester at MIIS has been one of the most rewarding experiences both professionally and personally. Alongside rigorous professional training, I was fortunate enough to have worked closely with Career and Academic Advisor, Winnie Heh. I learned a great deal through her Career Management classes and the projects we worked on together, while working at the Center for Advising and Career Services.

I would like to share with you the 3 major takeaways that inspired me to redefine how I approach my career path.

1.Know yourself.

Start with the basics. Discover what matters to you, what you enjoy doing and be open to new possibilities. There are so many places your language skills can take you; it may seem overwhelming at first, but the key to career success is in knowing yourself and what you want to be doing. Keep in mind that your career is not static; it’s going to constantly change in ways you would have never imagined.

Here is an example from my personal experience. I came to MIIS thinking I wanted to work as an interpreter for the EU or the UN. What I didn’t realize at the time was that Localization was such a promising field and could truly help me leverage both my language skills and management experience. As I got involved in various projects, I realized that the TLM profession is a window into the larger picture. This program may not be for everyone, but it is merely an example of how your career goals can change and why you should be open to new ideas.

2. Be intentional.

Whatever journey you embark on, always have a goal and build you decisions around it. Ask yourself: Where do I want to be in 5 years? This isn’t just a question someone asks you at an interview. It really matters that you know this for yourself.

Think about the following things when looking for a job or internship:

  1. What am I good at? What do I like doing?
  2. What are companies looking for? It is useful to look at job descriptions for the field you’d like to work in.
  3. What company would I want to work for? Come up with a hit list!

This all ties into knowing yourself. By answering these questions, you will identify your marketable skills and be able to position yourself by articulating what value you are bringing to the team.

3. Create long-lasting relationships.

Try to take advantage of every opportunity while you’re at MIIS (and after you graduate) to create long-lasting relationships with alumni, students, faculty, etc. They will be your windows into new opportunities. Most importantly, keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and be active!

These 3 major lessons have helped me shape a “career-driven employment” mentality that goes way beyond finding a simple job after you graduate. Every resource you are given here at MIIS will go toward your long-term career goals. Take advantage of it!


Gayané ‘Gaya’ Saghatelyan

MA Translation & Localization Management – French, 2017

Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey





Working as a U.N. Translator – an Interview of Sabela Avion-Martinez

Sabela Avion-Martinez (MATI ‘01) is currently a Spanish Translator at the United Nations based in New York City. She came back to MIIS during an Alumni Reunion in October, 2015 and made a presentation to current students on career opportunities at the UN.  I was impressed by her warmth, openness and her commitment to the growth of our future colleagues.  I made a mental note that she is someone I want to interview when my blog is up.  Here is our conversation.


Blog 6 Sabela2 Photo

1. What aspects of your work experience prior to joining the UN do you feel prepared you well for your current work?

I had always wanted to work at the United Nations, but I also knew I had to get experience in other fields. After graduating from MIIS, I worked for a large localization company between 2002 and 2006. I learned about translation processes, tools, budgeting and scheduling, client-provider relations… I’ve found myself applying all these skills at the UN at different stages.

Meanwhile, I kept an eye on any developments regarding careers at the United Nations. This has become increasingly easier over the years, as interested candidates have now access to a great deal of information on working at the UN in different language positions (editors, verbatim reporters, interpreters…), and exams or working opportunities.


2. What does your typical day look like at the UN?

If I don’t have an assignment to finish, I let the Programming Officer know I’m available. As soon as a document comes in, she’ll evaluate it and assign it.

We have our own CAT tool, called eLUNa – a translation interface specifically developed for the translation of United Nations documents. It provides access to previously translated documents (bitexts), terminology records and machine translations. As a longtime user of CAT tools, I’ve run the gamut from traditional to proprietary. This new system is web-based, and it’s been developed and adapted according to the specifications and requests of UN translators from all duty stations.

During the translation process, sometimes we find new terms without a set equivalent in Spanish. In those cases, we work together with our terminologists to improve our UNTERM Portal.

We also perform QC tasks on translations done externally. We provide them with an evaluation of their translation. Both internally and externally, translators are expected to have excellent translation skills, a perfect command of Spanish and a wide knowledge of the topics at hand.

The Spanish Translation Service has a strong online presence, and our blog and our Twitter account have hundreds of visits every day.


3.  What aspects of your education at MIIS do you feel prepared you well for your current work?

Language awareness. It’s an odd thing to say to speakers of other languages, but Spanish is the official language in 21 countries, and has a large number of speakers in many others. At MIIS, I learned Spanish from my Mexican, Colombian and Argentinean classmates.


4. What are the things that you know now that you wish you had known when you were a student at MIIS?

Try to make room for classes in other programs.

Find a language partner in your foreign language.

Don’t forget about your mother tongue.

Live in a foreign country!


Winnie Heh
Career & Academic Advisor

Career Management – a CEO’s Perspective

Lou Provenzano 011116


Louis F. Provenzano, Co-founder of Certified Medical Interpreters, LLC and former CEO of Language Line Services was the guest speaker in my Career Management class in December, 2015. Lou speaks 6 languages, has worked in over 10 countries around the world and has successfully started, acquired and sold over a dozen businesses with an aggregate value exceeding $500 million.   Many of you are familiar with the two medical certification exams in the U.S.  Lou started to organize conferences and other activities in 2007 to push for the certification exams.  He was one of the two co-founders of the Certified Medical Interpreters exam that is now administered by the National Board for the Certification of Medical Interpreters. (  I was able to take part in this historic movement thanks to his vision.


WH: Lou, thank you for making the time to meet with my students. I bet in all those years that we worked together, you had never thought that you would be speaking to MY students at MIIS. 

LP: No, I didn’t.  I guess anything is possible in life.  (Laugh!)

WH: And I think that just goes to show that career management is not some static end state that we choose upon graduation and it shall remain unchanged. A professional who cares about their growth needs to be ready to make positive changes that they may not have planned.  With that in mind, I want to point out to our students that you have had a very successful and varied international career.  Please tell us how you started?

LP: Thank you Winnie. My father was active in the student exchange program with Kiwanis in Europe.  He and his colleagues observed how European children learn multiple languages and conceived the idea of starting a similar program.  I, along with 25 other lucky children, was in an experimental program where we studied Spanish in first grade, added French while keeping Spanish and then added German while keeping Spanish and French.  With this program and my higher education, I learned Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Russian.  I studied Romance languages and international law in college.  My language and business training opened up opportunities in my international career.

 WH: That’s fascinating. Now starting a job is one thing, to keep the growth momentum going is another.  How do you approach keeping your career growth?

LP:  I am not an interpreter by trade, but I understand the importance of bridging language and cultural barriers.  I have always been ready to use sound business protocols, my experience and my languages to build relationships.  In addition, it is important to have a growth mindset – always learning and growing.  I work as if I were looking for a career change every day.  And you have to be well-prepared to function this way.  I have found that every experience I have seems to be more exciting than the previous one.

WH: The two most “anxiety-inducing” topics for our students are “networking” and “compensation.” If you wouldn’t mind, I would like to focus on those topics for a bit.  You are one of the best networkers I know.  It will take us a while to get to your level.  Please think back on your earliest professional life, what are the approaches that you used at those early stages of your professional life that you think our students can learn from?

LP: In terms of networking, I’d say the more you give, the more you will get.  Networking is about contributing.  For example, early in my career at Northern Trust, I volunteered to serve in a community outreach program because I am naturally outgoing and gregarious.  The unintentional benefit from this volunteer activity is that I made amazing contacts with Board members and community leaders throughout this process.  As a young professional, this opportunity also allowed me to hone my presentation and communication skills not the least of which was to develop new business opportunities for the bank!

You also have social media at your disposal. LinkedIn, Twitter and FaceBook are your friends.  Use them wisely.

When it comes to compensation, I’d say: “Get over it!”  (Laugh!)  Do your research.  Understand your value and stand behind your value.  Start high and have the confidence to believe that you deserve what you are asking for.  Salary negotiation is not confrontation.  It is an opportunity for both parties to understand their assumptions and positions.

 WH: You came into the language industry in the last 15 years after having achieved great success in other industries. Your language skills and your world view have given you the passion and unique perspective on this industry.  Where do you see the language industry going and how can the new graduates from MIIS with their unique and excellent education prepare themselves for the test of time?

LP: Our world is becoming smaller and smaller. In today’s world, the ability to exchange goods and services are limited only by the ability to communicate.  This makes interpreters essential for the global market.  We have seen 10% to 15% annual growth within the language industry per year driven by migration and trade.  Spanish speakers are predicted to be the majority in this country in 25 years.  All that is to say there are tremendous opportunities for language professionals if you are open-minded and manage your careers diligently.  Always look for and acquire the new skills needed in the future market.  Getting your degree does not mean the end of your education.  To future proof yourself, you need to keep learning.  This is something I heard from Winnie:  “Interpreters need to read a daily a day, a weekly a week and a monthly a month.”

WH: One of the questions that was raised by our students is this:

I would like to know what the CEO looks for in an employee when hiring or promoting an employee internally. I’m hoping the answer will be something more concrete than just ‘leadership potential’.”

LP: I believe in performance-based recognition and reward.  I look for someone who is creative, goes above and beyond their job description and who acts on the best interest of the company.  At the end of the day, the most successful employees are the ones who make concrete and on-going contributions to the organization’s growth.

 WH: One of the questions that was raised by our students is this:

“What steps can an employee take to make sure that every one of their jobs are fulfilling and educational?”

LP: Seek out learning opportunities and mentors.  Ask for and take feedback.  The biggest mistake any professional can make is complacency.  Nothing stays the same for long.  Always ask yourself:  “How can I improve myself?”

WH: Thank you for your generosity in sharing your insights.

LP: My pleasure and best of luck to all of you.

Winnie Heh
Career & Academic Advisor