translation and interpretation education

Both Sides Now – How Andrea Goethals Navigates a Portfolio Career as Localization Project Manager and Freelance Translator/Interpreter

Andrea Goethals

Andrea Goethals (MATI 2021) and I shared a good laugh when she told me recently what was going through her mind in our first meeting: During New Student Orientation, someone suggested that she should meet her Career Advisor, so she made an appointment with me. After the initial exchange of pleasantries, I asked her what her career goals were after graduation. Neither of us can remember what her reply was, but what was going through her mind was: “Uh, I haven’t thought that far. I just want to pass my classes.”

Fast forward to 2022, she is working as a part time Localization Project Manager while building her translation and interpretation freelance career. How she has navigated her career path is admirable – resourceful, focused plus a healthy portion of good humor.

  • What do you like most about working as a project manager and freelance translator/interpreter respectively?

As a project manager, I get to see all the behind-the-scenes things that go into setting up a job/project, reviewing linguist resumes and rates, assigning a linguist etc. It’s interesting to see both sides of the project, and it has helped me better understand and appreciate the hard work that project managers do! Since I’m also a freelancer, I can relate to questions from the linguists and learn from the experienced translators and interpreters I assign.

I pick up small things like how different people format their resumes and email signatures, how they write their emails, the questions they ask before accepting a job, and the way they handle themselves in difficult situations.

As a freelancer, I love that I can pick my own projects and my own hours. I’ve worked (remotely) with people from all over the world on a variety of different topics. I love using my language skills and working with other people who have the same passion.

I think the mix of translation and interpretation is nice because they complement each other well. Sometimes, I get a little worn out from several interpreting jobs in a row, so, I may want to sit quietly and translate for a while. Other times, if I’ve been doing a lot of translation projects, I get an itch to interpret and flex my oral language skills. It’s a nice balance.

  • I understand that you were offered a full-time position as a project manager, but you decided to stay part time and continue to build your freelance career. Why?

Yes, that was a hard choice! But at the end of the day, my heart really lies with translation and interpretation. I really enjoy project management as well, but I also wanted to give interpretation, especially, a try. Interpreting and second languages in general, are skills that need to be practiced regularly. If you don’t use it, you lose it. And I still have a lot to learn!

I’ve also come to realize that building a freelance career is a long, slow process. I didn’t want to lose the momentum and progress I’ve already made by working full time, because realistically, I didn’t know if I’d still be motivated to keep taking on side work. I wanted to be able to say “yes” to interpretation jobs that come my way and be able to offer competitive turnaround times for translation projects. Sometimes, it seems like the most important thing for getting a job is simply being available for an urgent, last-minute request. I wanted to be able to be that go-to person for potential new clients.

  • One of the complaints I hear often from freelancers is: “I am on many LSPs’ rosters, but I don’t get work from them.” Now that you have the PM’s perspective, how would freelancers get to the top of your “go-to list”?

I’ve had that same question, myself! Being on the project management side has taught me that it’s really about the little things. I think one of the biggest things is simply being responsive and professional via email. Usually, the person who responds first to a request gets the job. Responding quickly in a professional way huge, it makes the PM’s job so much easier. Even just a short message confirming receipt is very useful to the PM.

Another big one is responding to a project manager even if you’re not available to take on the job. As a PM, I appreciate that just as much as the people who respond accepting the job, because I know they’ve seen my message and I can move on with my search. I’m much more likely to send another request for a future assignment to the person who responding saying they’re not available than to the person who didn’t respond at all.

  • What role has your network (professional associations, colleagues, alumni) play in your career thus far? Any tips for newbies?

My network has been crucial! All my first freelance projects came from colleagues who recommended me. I went to the ATA conference the October after I graduated, and I highly recommend it! For me, it was encouraging to simply meet other professionals who actually had a fruitful freelance career in my language pair (which felt impossible when I first started, and often still does). It showed me that there is enough work to go around, and if these 1000+ are all doing it, maybe I can, too.

 It was really interesting to hear the different paths people had taken to get to where they are and gave me some good ideas for my business. I ended up getting a few awesome jobs from the connections I made at that first conference, too.

I went again this year and ended up sharing a cab with you, Winnie, which is what brought me to this blog! So, you just never know who you’re going to talk to and where it will lead. J

  • Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently when you were a student?

I would let myself relax a little bit more. During school and right after graduation, I was very anxious about starting a career in translation and interpretation because I didn’t understand how I was going to start freelancing once I graduated. I really wanted the satisfaction of having a stable job with a regular income and being “done”. Or I at least wanted some kind of clear-cut process I could follow to get started. I’m a hard worker and a faster learner, so I was craving structure to pour my anxious energy into.

But I realized that freelancing is much more fluid than that. I didn’t really start getting semi-regular work until around November after I graduated (in May). I spent the summer scouring job boards, cold calling LSPs and stressing out about not working. I felt like I was never doing enough but I also wasn’t getting any “results.” Once I started accepting that freelancing was going to be a much slower, gradual process, I felt like things started to happen more naturally. I still looked for work and practiced my skills, but I also got a side job to pay the bills and let myself off the hook every now and then.

I wish I could have enjoyed that downtime in the beginning a little more and not stressed so much, because it didn’t help. But if someone had told me that back then, I don’t think I would have listened. (Actually, in hindsight, ALL of my professors did tell me that, and I didn’t believe them. I guess you just have to learn some things for yourself!)

Winnie Heh

Career Advisor


外语人才的就业观 (Career Paths for Language Professionals)

This is my article that was published in January 2019 by China Bridge and Language Services China 40, two China-based think tanks focusing on the future of foreign language education and language services.


我在拿到会议口译硕士学位以后进入语言服务界,工作了25年以后于三年前回到位于加州蒙特雷的母校Middlebury Institute of International Studies担任职业生涯规划老师。我所著手的第一件工作就是和每位学生面谈,了解他们职业生涯的目标。我很快的就发现到80%以上的学生都说他们要到联合国做口译,而且这是不分语种、中外皆同。这让我既纳闷又担心。能够为联合国服务当然是值得推崇的目标,但是不应是唯一的选择。联合国不是每年都招人,即使招人,所需的人数也少,另外并不是每个学生都适合做口译,最重要的是外面的世界这么大,语言服务业的机会这么多,怎么这些学生口径一致的全要到联合国?更让我哭笑不得的是:就连自己语种并非联合国官方语言的学生也认为自己最好的出路就是进联合国。



我意识到外语学生对于自己职业生涯的定义似乎过度狭隘,凡是和理工或商业沾上边的工作不是认为自己力有未逮就是不屑一顾,过犹不及非常可惜。我于是开始去探究美国大学对语言教学及学生职业出路的过去、现在及未来。现代语言协会(Modern Language Association) 在2007年的一份报告中指出,美国大学外语教学多是透过语言教育建立学生进入核心课程的基础,核心课程则是偏重于文学和研究。语言能力是进入人文殿堂的工具。我接下来所反省的是:

人文教育对社会的贡献是无庸置疑的。正如朱振武教授所说的:「有技术不等于有知识,有知识不等于有文化,有文化不等于有思想。」我认为教育和技术训练在本质上是不同的。对于思想的提升是教育殿堂以内和以外都应该致力去推广的。现代语言协会指出,美国的外语学生之中只有6.1%继续深造取得博士学位,跟随着教授的典范继续开发新的知识领域和作育英才。我要问:其他93.9%的学生前途在那里?我们在辩论外语是否应保留其人文性或是市场化和工具化时,我们针对的是学生还是教授?如果是针对学生的话那么我们针对的是那6.1%的学生还是那93.9%的学生?我们是不是能够在教育(正如朱振武教授所说的)「有思想的人、有理论建树的人、解决人类重大基础问题的人」的同时也帮助热爱外语但选择其他职业生涯的年轻人为社会做出最大的贡献?我认为是可以的。 此外,我们希望大学毕业生能够成为独立的个体,独立性应是全方位的,应该包括思想、行为、及经济独立。如果我们接受这种思维方式的话,那么教育界对毕业生经济独立的能力责无旁贷。以美国为例,从1989年到2016年,平均的工资增长了10%,但是大学四年教育的费用却增长了98%,大学生很多是靠贷款完成学业的,平均负债额是USD$25,000。如果再念硕士学位,毕业时身上背负的是超过十万美元的债务,他们的就业和出路是十分迫切的问题。 根据Common Sense Advisory的报告,2017年全球语言服务外包的市场达四百五十亿美元(USD$45 Billion), 而且预测会继续增长,其中一半的市场会在美国。外语人才就业的机会是很丰富且多元的,但是有两个难点:

1.    外语学生除了教书以外并不了解在整个外语服务的生态系统中有什么就业和发展的机会。

  1.    就算他们想从事笔译或口译的工作,基本上他们大学四年所练就的外语能力还不到位,解决的办法就是到国外去工作或深造。





1.文科教育给了我一些意想不到的通用技能(transferrable skills),无论进入任何行业都受用。口译训练给了我在理解和沟通时快而准的能力。文学分析的训练让我能精准的判断眼前复杂的技术和人事问题。翻译研究所的教授们一再叮咛无论踫到什么议题,我们都要有信心及能力去学习、去处理,因此我在进入语言服务界后面对种种商业、技术及法务问题的挑战从未心存畏惧,反正就是以准备做一场会议口译战战兢兢的心境去面对就没错了。我们无法成为各行各业的专家,但理解讨论的中心议题和方向是绝对没问题的。我所学到的是一个终身学习的态度。

2. 语言教育给了我一个做为教师及口译人员的基本功(技术),而成为一个成功的管理者则是需要人文素养(思想)为后盾。我认为一个组织成功与否取决于三要素:团队(更重要的是领导)的素质(People), 完善的工         作流程(Process), 适用(未必是最新)的科技(Technology)。流程及科技是靠人开发出来的,所以归根究底「人」还是最重要的一环。美国西北大学的两位教授Gary Saul Morson (人文学者)及 Morten            Schapiro(经 济学者)在他们合著的《Cents and Sensibilities》中指出经济学者往往将人抽象化,忽略环境及文化因素,解决之道是多读文学作品,虽然很多学科都鼓励学生要培养同理心(empathy), 但只有文学真正从故事中让读者透过故事身歴其境的发挥同理心。李开复在2017年接受「科技新报」访问时指出: 未来当所有行业都走向人机结合时,文科领域也是一条别具发展性的路,例如艺术、哲学、历史、摄影、绘画、创作等,这些能力一时不容易遭AI 取代。当然这并不表示所有人都该去念文科,只是强调AI 时代下读文科也有出路和希望;另外像是服务业、志工等需要与人交流、关怀类型的工作,也都是AI 时代下的机会。




作者:贺永中,蒙特雷国际学院 (Winnie Heh, Career Advisor, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey)

What Enabled Me To Hit The Ground Running – CatherineRose Mountain (MATLM ’18)

CatherineRose Mountain (MATLM ‘18) interned at Salesforce in summer of 2017. In this post, she shares how she landed her internship. I am pleased to share that she is going to start working for Pinterest after graduation. Congratulations, CatherineRose for your accomplishments. Thank you for paying it forward by sharing your learnings.

*How did you find your job/internship? 

An email about the position was sent to all TLM students and the hiring manager also came to MIIS to do a presentation about the internship and Salesforce. I applied online and went through several rounds of interviews.

*What experiences at MIIS helped?

My Career Advisor did a mock interview with me to help me prepare and gave me specific feedback on where I could improve, which made a big difference. I also felt well-prepared to hit the ground running after the first year in the TLM program – I understood the logic behind the workflows and knew how to anticipate potential problems thanks to my training at MIIS. I was glad that I had some experience with InDesign from Multilingual Desktop Publishing (taught by Max Troyer), and since I was working in the marketing department at Salesforce, I found what we learned in Marketing for Localizers (taught by Adam Wooten) very relevant. The International SEO workshop in that class (taught by Chris Raulf) even prompted me to learn more about SEO and related digital marketing topics as part of my internship.

*What advice would you share with MIIS students? 

 One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is to be open – there is always something new to learn.


Winnie Heh

Career Advisor


Your Results Are Only as Good as Your Research – How Johnathan Sokol (MATLM 2018) Found His Internship



Johnathan Sokol interned at Donnelley Language Solutions’ new office in Montreal, Canada in summer of 2017. As we approach the 2018 TILM Career Fair, his story may give you some inspiration.

*How did you find your job/internship?

– I spoke with career advisor Winnie Heh about the upcoming career fair for tips about which companies would be present and looking to hire summer interns. Winnie provided me with some company names and I did some basic research on the ones that looked the most promising. In my research, I noticed that Donnelley Financial Solutions had a new office in Montéal, Canada, which is an intriguing destination for a French>English Translation student such as myself! At the career fair, I gave my résumé to the Donnelley recruiter and inquired about a possible opportunity in Montréal. The Donnelley recruiter said that she was only recruiting for the New York office, but would like to speak with me in an interview. In the interview, she said that the Montréal office was brand new and never had an intern before, but that it was a very interesting idea! A couple months later, I received an e-mail from Donnelley’s Canadian HR department offering me the “Project Coordinator Intern” position for the summer.

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

– Several MIIS resources led to the realization of this opportunity. First, my discussion with career advisor Winnie Heh led me to the research that enabled me to impress the recruiter with the idea to bring an intern to the Montréal office. Then, the MIIS career fair led to a discussion with a Donnelley recruiter that led to an in-person interview later that afternoon. Finally, in the interview, a short discussion pertaining to my TLM coursework convinced the recruiter that I had the proper background for this internship.

*What advice would you share with MIIS students?

– If possible, schedule a quick meeting with Winnie/your career advisor before big events such as a career fair or conference for tips. Do some basic research on companies before contacting them so you can impress them with knowledge of a new office or changes in the company. Also, don’t be afraid to inquire about possibilities that don’t exist (yet!). If you can connect the company with something that you’re looking for in an internship, it doesn’t hurt to ask if they can make something new.


Winnie Heh

Career Advisor


How to Use Professional Translators in These 4 Fields



This blog posting is contributed by Rachel Wheeler of Morningside Translations.  Understanding the perspective from the LSPs will give translators an edge.  Read on ….

Professional translators are needed now more than ever. From HR and marketing positions to global clinical trials and e-discovery, workers with professional translation skills are in high demand. Need proof? Here are four completely different fields that require an LSP.

Marketing and E-Commerce

Today, conducting business on a global scale requires skill in reaching an international audience. It means interacting with different cultures and languages while also creating brochures, websites, ads, contracts, annual reports, etc.

In 2016, reports showed that 57 percent of participants across six continents purchased a product from an overseas-based website. By the end of that year, the U.S. ecommerce market garnered more than $322 billion in revenue. Those numbers are the product of an international audience – English speakers represent only 26 percent of the world’s internet users. As a result, translation and localization has become a must-know skill for successful international retailers and marketers.

International Litigation

International litigation is a complex field on its own. When diverse languages and cultures are added to the mix, it can become overwhelming.

Having someone with the ability to translate on the spot could be helpful in multiple situations, including but not limited to: Hearing cases in different nations; speaking with staff members who are not fluent in the prominent language of the case; identifying the differences in laws that are written in another language.

Global Clinical Trials and Research Publications

Translation has an important role in the medical industry, especially when it comes to conducting global clinical trials and publishing scientific papers.

Clinical trials require a lot of paperwork – there’s documents that the patients fill out, documents that the administering staff fills out, and documents that the doctors fill out, etc. If the research sponsor is conducting global clinical trials, then each one of these documents would need to be translated for each location, twice.

First, the documents need to be translated from the original language into the local language of the test participants. Then, once everything has been recorded, the documents must be re-translated into the original language of the research sponsor. It would be wise to have expert linguists on staff to answer questions during this lengthy process.

With 75 percent of scientific papers are written in English, a translator is needed in order for others in the scientific community to gain access to these papers

Patent Filing

Filing a patent is a tedious process. It is even more so when you’re applying in a different language under a different set of regulations.

Filing and maintaining a patent application in an international market can range from $11,400 in Israel to $25,700 in Japan. As the filing prices increase, so do the translation costs. According to the European Commission, “the costs for a single translation of a patent may be more than €1500.”

Hiring an LSP will not only help cut down costs, but will ensure accuracy throughout the patent application process. Having to file for an international patent again is a waste of both monetary and intangible resources (e.g. time).

Tips on Becoming an LSP

The secret is out: Translators are in high demand. So, how do you get ahead? Here are a few pro tips.

Revise, Revise, Revise: You wouldn’t call a plumber to fix a broken pipe only to leave your house without checking everything’s in working order. When it comes to translation, you should make sure all your files are accurate and error-free before returning to the client.

Make sure you’re comfortable: If you’re uncomfortable with the subject matter and language style, then it’s time swallow your pride. Whether you think so or not, your comfort level will affect the quality of your work.

Don’t be afraid to use your references: As a translator, your job is to be accurate. That’s what that stack of reference material, style guides, and glossaries are for. Use them.


Fit For Fitbit – How Alex Alyakrinskiy (MATLM ’17) Landed His Job

Alex Alyakrinskiy graduated from Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) with an MA degree in Translation and Localization Management (English-Russian) in spring of 2017. Prior to coming to MIIS, he worked as Localization Project Manager at a small LSP in Palo Alto. Alex is currently a Localization Program Manager at Fitbit in San Francisco.

*How did you find your job?

 I started looking for a job four months prior to graduation. After several interviews, I landed a part-time job at a startup which allowed me the flexibility to work remotely and finish graduate school. That experience gave me an understanding of localization stakeholders which in turn helped with my full-time job search. I always wanted to combine my passion for sports, healthcare and foreign languages. As soon as I saw a job opening at Fitbit on LinkedIn I applied right away. I was hired after four rounds of interviews.

*What experiences at MIIS helped?

It goes without saying that understanding the industry plays a key role in successful employment. The localization industry is very dynamic and multi-faceted—there is something in it for everyone. Working with my MIIS career advisors Winnie Heh and Lee Desser helped to shape my resume and highlight my professional goals. Attending localization meetups and networking events such as IMUG and SF Globalization helped me to understand the versatility of our industry and align my interests and skills with opportunities in the field.

The TLM program provided a solid foundation in the latest localization tools and technical skills so valued today. I didn’t realize how closely marketing is connected to localization until I took Adam Wooten’s Marketing for Localization course. The skills I gained in that class furthered my understanding of international markets, establishing liaisons with marketing stakeholders and addressing global product launches. The Localization Practicum was a detailed hands-on class that showed the value of team work and provided the latest industry best practices which I use on daily basis at Fitbit.

 *What advice would you share with MIIS students?

“There is always room for improvement. Keep networking, update your resume religiously and constantly work on yourself.” I heard that advice from a MIIS career advisor. It turned out to be the best advice I received. Looking for a job is a full-time job. Study hard, absorb new skills and try to get as much practical experience as possible. We all have different personalities and temperaments, which brings diversity and enriches every workplace. Stay true to yourself, network and establish genuine connections that will lead you to your perfect career.

Winnie Heh

Career Advisor



ASK ME HOW I GOT HIRED – Riddhi Desai (MAT ’18, MIIS)

Riddhi Desai is a Certified Public Accountant from the State of New York. She worked for top consulting firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP and Deloitte, LLP prior to coming to MIIS to pursue a degree in Translation (English – Japanese). She landed translation projects on equity research with Shared Research Inc. in summer 2017.  According to the company’s website, they “offer corporate clients comprehensive report coverage, a service that allows them to better inform investors and other stakeholders by presenting a continuously updated third-party view of business fundamentals, independent of investment biases.”  This offered a great opportunity for Riddhi to leverage her financial and language training.  Here is her path to this opportunity.

*How did you find your job/internship?

After several rounds of lengthy translation tests with a certain company from the career fair, communication fizzled out. By that point, my other classmates had secured wonderful internships and I was feeling like a failure in comparison. In a moment of utter desperation, I remembered a company I’d heard about that specialized in equity research translation, the field in which I’m most interested. Unfortunately, like most companies in this field, they weren’t advertising anywhere about recruiting, nor did they have any job postings. I found their general recruiting address online, and cold-emailed them explaining my background asking if they were in need of freelancers. I hadn’t expected anyone to reply, but they did!

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

When I was feeling down after the fiasco with the previous company, talking with Winnie Heh, my Career Adviser, really helped. She reminded me that I could choose to either mope about things, or pick myself up and start again. I’d also first heard about Shared Research from a couple of MIIS professors who knew I had an interest in equity research.

*What advice would you share with MIIS students?

The job search isn’t over until you stop searching. If a path to an internship doesn’t present itself to you, carve your own. Even when the situation is dire, don’t give up!


Winnie Heh

Career & Academic Advisor


ASK ME HOW I GOT HIRED – Frances Pao-Fang Chang (MAT ’17, MIIS)


Prior to coming to MIIS, Francis 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 at 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.

*How did you find your job?

I found my internship opportunity at the MIIS Career Fair in February of 2016 and became a summer intern at the Star Group office in Thailand for two months in the summer of 2016.

In February, 2017, I received the offer from the same office and moved to Bangkok in July, 2017.

*What experiences at MIIS helped?

With a career management course, career advising sessions, and two major Career Fairs, I was pushed to think about my career early on and prepare for it. Along with the challenging academic programs and strong support network (great people!), I became more confident in job-hunting, which would have otherwise been a daunting task.

*What advice would you share with MIIS students?

Think about a career early on, explore the resources available at MIIS (and beyond) and strive for what really interests you. Do not be discouraged if you make mistakes because these two years of study, in such an encouraging environment, are supposed to be a great time to get to know yourself and make friends for life.

Winnie Heh

Career & Academic Advisor

ASK ME HOW I GOT HIRED – Gaya Saghatelyan (MATLM ’17, MIIS)

Growing up in a multicultural environment, Gaya Saghatelyan has always been passionate about languages and culture. She spoke Russian, Armenian and English at home. In college, Gaya studied Business Administration at a French business school. Between college and MIIS, Gaya worked for a software company in Marketing.  She is now a Project Manager at Lionbridge, the largest language services provider in the world.

*How did you find your job/internship?

I began my journey at Lionbridge as a Sales and Marketing Intern on the IT/High-Tech team. I first learned about the opportunity through an employer information session organized by the MIIS Center for Advising and Career Services office (CACS). When I found out that the internship would give me the opportunity to work with Allison McDougall, VP of Emerging Business and an MIIS alumna, I knew it would be a great learning experience.

Coincidentally, I had met Allison the year before when she presented on an employer panel organized by Winnie Heh, my Career Advisor. At the time, I was helping Winnie organize the event and had the opportunity to network with the panelists. Through getting to know Allison and her work at Lionbridge, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

As an intern, I learned a lot about the industry and Lionbridge’s business and met a lot of interesting people. I eventually wanted to transition into a role in operations, and Allison was extremely supportive in helping me explore opportunities at Lionbridge. She introduced me to a lot of key people and encouraged me to share what I had learned at MIIS with the management team. This was an extremely valuable experience, as I got to apply what I had learned and see how this knowledge plays into the company’s strategy.

Upon graduation, I was offered a full-time position on the Project Management team. I am extremely grateful to CACS for establishing this key partnership with Lionbridge and to Allison for spearheading it.

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

As you can see from my personal story, connecting with people played a key role in my career. Winnie Heh, Lee Desser, Bryce Craft and Emily Weidner all put a tremendous amount of effort into organizing useful TILM career events so that we can connect with the industry. In addition, our professors, Max Troyer and Adam Wooten, encouraged us to attend industry events such as IMUG and Women in Localization. These events were a great way to enhance the classroom experience and I continue to attend them as a working professional.

I was also delighted to see that the knowledge we gained in our program is highly applicable to the real world. For example, I often use the documentation and file management best practices we learned in Max Troyer’s Project Management class, as well the marketing tools covered in Adam Wooten’s International Marketing class. I even had the chance to present some of my class projects to my colleagues at Lionbridge.

*What advice would you share with MIIS students?

  1. Keep learning. Learn as much as possible about your industry while you’re at MIIS. It may seem overwhelming or theoretical, but you will take that knowledge with you and make yourself an invaluable asset.
  2. Explore different roles. Don’t limit yourself to only one specialization, because there are so many opportunities out there. Be open-minded about taking on new roles.
  3. Connect with people. It’s a small industry, make genuine connections with people and help your colleagues. Networking is not about pushing your agenda, it’s about learning from others.

Finally, always remember, you are in one of the best programs in the country, if not the world. Your skills are in demand.


Winnie Heh

Career Advisor






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 advising, DC career week and the MIIS network were the most helpful.

I met with Winnie Heh, my Career Advisor, before starting my first semester 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. During the trip, 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 and gave us 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 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 two-month stint and get a return offer. Well, that did not happen. 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 take years to build, 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 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 we need to approach it not from a utilitarian perspective – instead, think about how you can help each other (thanks Winnie for the 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 the more you can use the feedback/learning constructively.

Winnie Heh

Career Advisor