translation & interpretation

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

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

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

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

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)miis.edu.

 

Winnie Heh
Career & Academic Advisor
wheh@miis.edu

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
wheh@miis.edu

WHERE ARE YOU IN YOUR JOB SEARCH?

jobs-image

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

wheh@miis.edu

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

wheh@miis.edu

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
wheh@miis.edu