Interpreting “pro bono”

Dear readers and followers,

This weekend, I had the chance to attend the SWATI (Starting Work as a Translator or Interpreter) day here in London. It was organised by ITI, Routes for Languages, and University of Westminster, and I signed up with some hopes, but also believing that I was going to be disappointed, because of what I have already said in some of my previous posts: successful people are very good at describing what they have done right, often with the help of family and friends, but all those stories are totally useless for the rest of the world.
I am happy to say that this time it was different. It may be because it was mainly dedicated to students who are soon finishing their cursus studiorum and are going to decide if they want to choose freelancing as their career path, or maybe because some people are simply good at giving tips and advices based in their experience instead of just bragging about what they have done with their lives. Regardless of the reasons, it was very interesting, and also useful even for those like me who have already chosen their way into freelancing, but are still new in it and are eager to learn from anyone and to understand how to promote themselves better.

I have to admit that the organization was sort of bare, but no criticism in that, what the day offered was honestly worth the fact of having to bring our own food. I very much enjoyed all the talks, although maybe the morning has been more interesting for me. No offence to the speakers of the afternoon, who I knew already, therefore it was not something new for me. I will not go into the details of each speech, because you can see my tweets with #SWATI to browse the tips that I considered worth to share on the spot.

In this post, I would like to focus on volunteering as an interpreter and a translator. It is something that we are encouraged to do when we finish university, as a way to have some experience in a professional but more relaxed environment, but it often seems as if it should be kept secret. It is a wonderful thing to do, and I have always gained a lot from every single experience, and I was sort of upset when I was told to just put the details on my CV, but to obviate the fact that it was pro bono. That is why I am glad that yesterday they said that it is not a problem to state in the CV that some experiences were on a voluntary basis.

As I said, I have worked as a volunteer interpreter several times, and I was supposed to do it once again this summer, if I had been able to managed my schedule in a better way. Every single time it has been a great experience, not only on a professional level, but also on a personal one, because I had the chance to meet incredible people and to learn from them. I have also translated and subtitled pro bono, and I consider all of them great opportunities that I hope to repeat soon.

I was positively touched by Joanna Waller’s testimony and by her advice to get in touch with some organisations to offer them our services, because this kind of collaboration gives us a lot more than what we receive from it. There is a big difference between working for peanuts, as the clients sometimes would like us to, and working for NGOs and non‑profit organisations that openly ask for this kind of collaboration; in my opinion, it is something that we should do if we consider the organisations to be good according to our principles and that we want to help them. Of course, it is just my opinion, but you may have a nice surprise if you try.

For now it is all but… don’t forget to keep being naughty, Knotty surely will!!!

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