I know that there are lots of prominent professional interpreters in the world, many of them with a great deal more experience than I have. Some of them have published books and video clips on Youtube while others are not found in any records because interpreters sign an NDA (Non-disclosure Agreements) with our clients. The interpreters who keep to such agreements are unknown to us. There could be some pictures where you might, for example, see the back of an interpreter or even a picture where the interpreter is cut in half by the photo. I used to find such pictures quite disquieting. But… this is our job.
What I learnt in the schools were basic but useful conference interpreting techniques. Our teachers were wonderful senior interpreters who could tell us fascinating stories about their experience. These experiences were invaluable in showing us what to expect when we stepped out into our career path.
However, the one thing I did not learn is in fact the most difficult thing to overcome. I did not become a conference interpreter in the end (see the definition below):
What I need in my job circumstance is something more like “soft skills” and “common sense” in addition to the interpreting techniques. I always believe that there must be a chemical bond between the client and an interpreter. Above all, the crucial requirement for a good job is “trust”.
We, interpreters, are just like other professions such as musicians, lawyers, footballers, plumbers, politicians etc., and everybody is replaceable but of course the more specialised your skill is the harder this is to do.
We strive to be as good as we can and my goal is to become an interpreter that you cannot easily replace. I know the best interpreters are invisible. The beauty of a job well done is the fact that our clients forget that we are there at all. But strangely, it is this very invisibility which makes us more valuable and more irreplaceable.