My First Insight into Court Interpreting

wrong court interpreter

I decided to give myself a nice birthday gift this year, and there was nothing better than going to observe my mentor, Luz De-Castro Olaya, as she worked as a court interpreter! It was one of the few times I did not mind waking up very early in the morning, being that I am a night owl without a doubt, and not letting a little incident (cutting my finger almost to the bone), stop me from going to watch her and learn from her.

As I arrived at the Courthouse in Shelby, NC, I was excited and a tad nervous. In my mind, I pictured going into a high security building, with lawyers in suits walking all over the place like they owned it. As I went in, I was actually surprised to see how friendly all of the security guards were, and how laid back the environment was.

I entered the courtroom where Luz was waiting for me, and I saw her sitting right next to the court officials. At that point, I am thinking I am just going to sit where everyone else is sitting, so I proceed to do so. To my surprise, Luz calls me over to sit with her. All of the bailiffs were polite and friendly, and she introduced me to many of them. I loved the fact that she knew them, and was even cracking jokes with them! What a relief.

Finally, she gets called in to interpret. Contrary to the drama we all expect after watching movies that take place in courtrooms, the cases were short and to the point. However, witnessing the unspoken gratitude and relief from the people she interpreted for was far more exciting than all of those movies together. I cannot wait to work as an interpreter.

I want to say thank you to Luz, because that hour and a half that I spent with her increased my passion that much more. What interpreters do is not just a job, it is a passion, and it really does make a difference in people’s lives.

I would love to get some input, or comments, about how you felt the day you started to interpret, or the first time you witnessed an interpreter in action. Please share with us!

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My Resume: From Good to Great!

Resume Cartoon

I recently took a class called “Strategic Marketing & Branding for Translators & Interpreters”, and one of the lessons was based on how to create a great resume as a translator. Due to the fact that our profession is directly related to words and writing , we have an extra layer of pressure to have a perfect resume, with beautiful writing, without any misspelled words, and perfectly presented. Makes you sweat a little, doesn’t it?

Thankfully, our instructor provided an additional link for us to read about this subject: Curriculum Vitae That Works in the Translation Industry. It was written by Marta Stelmaszak, and it has many tips that are very useful.

One of the things I learned from this lesson is how important it is to personalize and customize your resume for a specific customer or project. I know it can be time consuming to have to adjust this document over and over, but, don’t you want to stand out from all of the other translators that might be applying for the same project you are? Don’t you want to go from being good to being great? Even if it takes extra time, and if I do not feel like doing it sometimes, I am certainly going to follow this rule.

Here is a prime example for you. I am trying to gain a new customer, and it happens to be a company that I worked for as an account manager. Imagine I send them my resume without stating that I have personally worked there, that I have specific and advanced knowledge about their products, that I personally wrote instructions on some of their internal procedures, and that I managed one of their biggest accounts. Do you think all of these details would make me stand out from other translators trying to gain their business? All of that information is extremely important and relevant to my talents and ability to do a great translation for this company.

Do you have any tips you can share with us about things that have made your resume stand out? I would love to hear other ideas that can help many of us!

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The Case of the New Interpreter’s Sweats

This blog is dedicated to all of my fellow students that are currently going through the early stages of interpreting, in which the interpreter’s sweats are a bit intense. The dedication is also extended to all of those veteran interpreters that can give us some encouraging words, advise, and share their sweat experiences with us.

Place yourself on the following scenario: you are on a live online class, with 6 people logged in from around the world, being watched through a webcam. The speech starts…it is time to interpret from language A to language B. Let the sweats begin! You know you got this, you are doing great and you are capturing every word from the speaker. Suddenly, that one single word comes up, the one you completely forgot how to say in language B, and the world stops. All of the following thoughts run through your head in about 3 seconds: “I forgot how to say that word. How do I say that word? Oh no, I missed 5 more words as I was thinking about that stupid word. Did I just miss an entire sentence by now? They all know I missed it, I can feel it. I am a disappointment. How am I ever going to recover from this? This is the end of my interpreting career. Can they see the sweat drop on my forehead? I am going to faint now.” As you are thinking all of this, you are not realizing that you kept going even after you missed that single, scary and intimidating word. You did not miss anything else, and now you are catching up on your comfortable stage of décalage. You survived this! Your thoughts completely change now, approximately 10 seconds after missing the word: “I did it! Holy cow I kept going, I am a rock star! I am up to speed. I am so excited I want to scream! but, I cannot, I have to concentrate or I am going to miss another word. I am going to be the best interpreter there is!” However, the most fascinating thing of all is: you were interpreting the entire time these thoughts were going through your head, and no one even noticed you were sweating. How incredible is that? Isn’t it the most amazing rush you have felt? How accomplished do you feel when you are done with the interpretation, and you stand up and feel 15 feet tall?

I live for the interpreter’s sweats. Do you?

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Summer 2015 Quarterly

CATI’s Summer 2015 Quarterly update just came out! Make sure to check your emails for the letter, or click on my link in the previous sentence. Point out the “Learning the Ropes” information, which can be found on page 2, to any new student members! It’s a great program for getting familiar with professional translation and interpretation, as well as building a network. If you aren’t already receiving the quarterly, go to this page to sign up for it–emails only come out four times a year, so your inbox won’t be overwhelmed!

If you have any suggestions or would like to add to the quarterly, there are guidelines for submission on the CATI website as well.

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56th Annual ATA Conference

The American Translators Association (ATA) will host its 56th Annual Conference in Miami, Florida
November 4-7, 2015. This conference showcases diverse panel discussions, expert presentations, training workshops, and scholarly papers. Both general and language-specific sessions will be offered. The conference also offers language professionals one of the best opportunities to network with colleagues. For conference information see

For questions, contact Ms. Lauren Mendell, Member Relations & Marketing Manager
Phone: +1-703- 683-6100, extension 3001

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Upcoming Events

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Upcoming Event: 27th Annual CATI Conference

This is a reminder that the 27th Annual CATI Conference is this Saturday, April 5, 2014, at USC Upstate in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

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