Mireya has been a great mentor to me whom has helped me when I’ve felt lost and without any help when it came to my career as an interpreter. She was someone I knew would always be willing to answer my questions and give me all kinds of recommendations. Even now that I’m slowly finding my way and have been working on so many projects, she’s been there supporting me every step of the way. I am also a big fan of her podcast which you can find linked at the end of this post. I prepared some questions for Mireya to answer in this interview, to which you will find her answers below. I hope you all enjoy our discussion!
Q: How long have you been working as an interpreter?
A: I completed my training program in 2009 and started immediately working for a general hospital. Shortly thereafter, I took and passed the NBCMI assessment and became a certified medical interpreter. I’ve been working as a trained professional for over 10 years.
Q: How was your experience starting out?
A: Lost. My intention was to become a court interpreter but the recession of that time placed a gloomy forecast on the possibility of obtaining work in that specific area. So I made a pivot into medical. My professors were adamant that there would be a certification by the time we were done with the program. But finding mentors or people to help guide me in the journey after schooling was practically impossible. I couldn’t find people willing to share information or guide me in my professional journey, to be fair I didn’t know anyone.
Q: What helped you improve as an interpreter?
A: Personal development. I studied a lot and shadowed television and radio shows.
Q: You’ve told me you started as a medical interpreter, what made you turn to education?
A: The two hospitals I worked for only hired me as a per diem, meaning I was on call. The only issue was that I was always called upon, sometimes working up to 60 hours a week. The schedules fluctuated and as a single parent I was constantly worrying about adequate child care. One day I saw a post for an interpreter/translator at a local school district, so I decided to apply. I went through their hiring process and one day on my way to work to the hospital, I got the call offering me the position.
Q: When did you become a trainer?
A: I became a trainer in 2017 when the need arose in the school district to train bilingual staff. I searched for a curriculum that could be brought to the school district, took the training myself and later realized that the program offered a training of trainers as well. I took the training with another colleague and we became licensed trainers of the Community Interpreter International Program.
Q: What made you start your podcast?
A: Even though a few years had passed since beginning my career, I felt even more isolated in the profession since now I had ventured into a world that had not yet been standardized; interpreting in educational settings. I still had the need to connect with other language professionals no matter the industry they specialized in. All I wanted to do was learn from others in the field and since I’m a personal development “junkie” and I do a lot of my learning through reading and podcasts, I decided to take a chance.
Q: What’s your favorite thing you’ve been able to accomplish because of your podcast?
A: Connecting (finally) with other language professionals.
Q: Do you have a favorite episode you’ve recorded for your podcast?
A: In their own way, there’s a favorite component in each story. Each one teaches me something different. In some, I find inspiration, in others I connect with the individual themselves, some teach me humility, others to see the humor in the profession, some episodes connect me with empathy, and others reignite my fuel for the cause. Each one teaches me something, and so each one is my favorite.
Q: Do you have any advice for new interpreters?
A: It’s good to venture in different areas, but find the one area you want to get really good at first and do that until others can identify your specialty. If you try to do everything at once, you run the risk of a quick burnout and disinterest. The language industry needs more people passionate about people and connections and an understanding that there’s time and room for everyone.
I want to take this time to thank you for reading this blog post and to thank Mireya for taking the time to chat with me. As you all know she has been a great mentor to me and I am forever grateful for the support and encouragement she has shown me. – Miriam