I sat down to write this blog post, realising that I had been freelancing for around 6 months, and started to think. It seems a long time ago that I received a call offering me an interpreting job. The first time I walked in and met the client, they asked me if I came and did a lot of jobs like this. My answer was no. My answer is still no, it happens to be quite a unique job (as they so often are), but at the time it was no as the only other jobs I had done were a couple of doctor and hospital appointments in London and Birmingham some time before.
After seven months of freelance interpreting I feel that I have learnt a lot. I have learnt of the ups of interpreting – you nail a phrase exactly, the client compliments you at the end for a job well done, the variety; and the downs – strong accents (on both sides), giving bad news, and the client simply not turning up. I have to say interpreting has not disappointed for a job in which every day is different. I have interpreted in situations as varied as hospital appointments, probation and prison services, therapy sessions, child protection cases, occupational therapy visits, and a general assembly of Peace Brigades International, an organisation aimed at providing protective accompaniment to human rights defenders around the world. Now no one can say that it has been boring can they?
I have to say I am happy with my choice. Back in the summer, when I was working away on the MA project and taking on interpreting jobs to get by, I did wonder if it was the right choice, to go freelance straight away. How would I ever survive in London? However, where there is a will there is a way, and armed with an array of casual jobs I have taken on the freelance market. Alongside interpreting I currently do language tutoring, note-taking for students at universities (a great job, I would recommend it to any naturally curious person who likes to learn) and translation when it comes up (finally got my first proper length job just before Christmas and it was great). I mustn’t forget bar work sometimes too.
So, I have a busy schedule! And it is true, last year, when I was busy I would end up working sometimes seven days a week (you can thank the tutoring and bar work for that), and it sometimes seemed like it was all too much, then as soon as there was a hint that it would go quiet, a sense of impending doom (maybe a bit strong) comes over you, instead of enjoying the peace and quiet. However, after seven months, and a few proper days off at Christmas I feel more settled and prepared to successfully juggle my jobs and my time.
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So, any New Year’s resolutions? Well the PBI General Assembly taught me that I did indeed want to go into conference interpreting. This is not going to be easy. However the PBI job consisted of nine intensive days on a children’s camp in the middle of nowhere in Switzerland, with a group of three of us interpreting all of the presentations, workshops, work groups, you name it. Sometimes we finished at 10 o’clock at night, having started at 9 that morning. I loved every minute of it. The days leading up to my departure I was so nervous I nearly did not want to go. What if I couldn’t do it? What if they all think I am incompetent? Well I did go, and I can do it. I was lucky, the other two interpreters were wonderfully supportive, and the whole team of people were amazing, which helps no end when you spend nine days eating and working and sleeping in the same environment. The learning experiences that job offered can take up another blog post on its own. So it’s enough to say that that is my aim, which is going to take a lot of work and I don’t even know how many obstacles on the way. Secondly, I plan to work at obtaining more translation commissions. I really enjoyed the job I was commissioned for before – it was the first “proper” professional translation work I have completed (many volunteer translations aside). Translation in my opinion provides an ideal balance for interpreting. The vocabulary and style you pick up from translating will provide knowledge for interpreting and vice versa, and whilst one can be completed from the comfort of your own home, the other gives you the opportunity to get out and meet people.
So I think that is my rambling done for now. I would love to hear any comments from people who have the same, or conflicting, or any experiences or views on the subject. I hope to hear from you!