As a freelance Spanish interpreter working in legal, court, and conference settings, my days vary. A lot.
A bit of background first: I’ve been in the freelance market for two years now, and it’s been three years since I finished my graduate work in interpreting. Before grad school, I worked as a staff interpreter and an interpreter services supervisor for about ten years. Before that, I worked as a subcontracted interpreter for an agency for a couple years while I was finishing my bachelor’s degree in Spanish, and for a while after I finished undergrad. So while I’m not new in interpreting, I’m still pretty new as a freelancer.
I wonder how many healthcare interpreters there are out there like me, who are dipping their toes in the waters of legal and court interpreting. At a certain point, you just have to go out there and do it. After passing my state certification exams, and two grad school courses in court interpreting, I couldn’t put it off anymore. It’s scary to go do something new after having spent over a decade in healthcare, so here are some tips that might help someone who’s one step behind me.
Where do I go? I’ve had the training, I’ve memorized the terminology and the set phrases, I know what our ethical principles are. But the most uncomfortable part? I don’t know where to go. I don’t know who to report to. I haven’t yet been to the same place twice. Sometimes it’s easy. I go to an assignment in a private office, and they’re waiting for me. Other times, like in court, I don’t know who to check in with. I don’t want to talk too loud when I ask where to go, and then have the judge shoosh me. I don’t want to go where I’m not supposed to go. I’m getting better at scoping out the bailiff, who is a good person to check in with. I’ve gotten to court assignments early just to sit and observe who all the players are. Just settling in to the environment helps ease my anxiety about where I should be. Continue reading “For the Record: A Healthcare Interpreter in Court”→