The Linguist

The Linguist 54,6

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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16 The Linguist Vol/54 No/6 2015 On day one I found myself wondering what I had got myself into and how I would last an entire week Bianca Jacobsohn charts her journey from nervous high school graduate to freelance conference interpreter B orn into a family of communicators with irreparably itchy feet (we are spread across four continents!), it was only natural that I should lock my sights on a career that bridges language and travel. A two-month stint backpacking across France after high school confirmed my dream career: interpreting. Nearly 15 years to the day after I nervously uttered my first French sentence in a Francophone country (only to be ignored), I now make my living as a freelance French/ English interpreter, specialising in nuclear safety reviews in France and Belgium, and in the private and diplomatic sectors in Paris, where I am currently based. The path I took may help others to realise their dream. Although my two master's degrees, in translation and interpreting, have formed the bedrock to my work as a language professional, the steps I have taken to supplement and upgrade my skills have been equally important. These include doing internships I didn't think I would be able to handle (but always could); undertaking continuing professional development (CPD); shadowing more experienced colleagues; and asking for feedback from clients, peers and mentors. This approach to professional growth has allowed me to expand my skills set from translator to interpreter and (soon) conference interpreter. While studying at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, I sought out opportunities to use French, checking notice boards in corridors and online. This led to work as a facilitator for francophone delegates at a pan-African leadership conference, organised by a South African mobile telecommunications group. It was during this conference that I first saw conference interpreters at work. I paid close attention to how the interpreters, working into French, navigated their way unfalteringly through talks given in English by delegates from 17 African countries. Being a dedicated francophile in Johannesburg paid off, as the French government gave me a scholarship to do a second MA in Strasbourg. I continued to take every opportunity to use French outside the classroom, and firmly believe this kind of exposure is critical to an interpreter's training, as you become comfortable interacting with all sorts of people and in a variety of contexts. I continued to keep an ear to the ground for opportunities for budding language professionals. A big break came when I volunteered as a student interpreter at a literary festival in Brittany. It was the ultimate taster of the travelling interpreter's lifestyle – being whisked away to a new and exotic location, privy to fascinating intellectual debates, and meeting writers from all over the world over a glass of champagne and an oyster or two. Realising the DREAM

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