Since graduation, I have been working as a freelance French/Spanish translator and interpreter. When I first started, I was doing a lot of community interpretation and taking any opportunity that came my way to get practice and make connections. I recently completed my first trip with the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). I traveled around the U.S. for three weeks with four visitors from Chad to interpret for meetings on the topic of women and entrepreneurship. I really enjoyed getting to speak French and develop my interpretation skills every day. I think the program will also allow me to meet many other interpreters and expand my network.
During my time at the Institute we all heard a lot about the opportunities interpreting with IVLP. I was able to take the test a few months after graduation. It was definitely thanks to the connection between the Middlebury Institute and the State Department that I was able to get my foot in the door there. I had to wait about six months to get my results and another six months to get put on an assignment. For my freelance jobs, I get a good amount of work through agencies I have gotten in contact with or through the American Translators Association and my website. Sometimes things are pure random luck, though! For example, I’m excited to have the chance to interpret for a Pride conference in San Diego, which I was offered by someone I met at a meetup event in the city months ago.
The Middlebury Institute network has been essential for getting established as a freelancer. During the summer between my first and second year, I participated in a translation internship with UNESCO that I was offered after an alum put me in contact with the translation department there. My two best freelance conference interpretation clients also came through recommendations from my classmates. Of course, it goes without saying that my courses and training at MIIS were also crucial for improving my language and interpretation skills so that I would be qualified for the work I want and to pass various tests. My time at the Institute also deeply enhanced my understanding of the industry in general through career advice and conversations with professors.
Relax and Trust the Process
My best advice for current students is to be patient and try to relax! I still have to remind myself of that now, over a year after graduation. All of our professors definitely warned us that getting started freelancing is a slow process. You just have to trust that continued efforts will eventually pay off and little by little things will pick up.
Fans of This American Life have likely heard the voice of Gabriela Muñoz MACI ’23, who worked as an interpreter for several episodes of the popular national radio show. That experience led her to pursue a master’s in conference interpretation.