So, Masters degrees are stressful. There’s a lot to learn and only one year to learn it – and when the subject at hand is a skill like conference interpreting, a year seems like an impossibly short amount of time to pick it up. But I’ve been progressing well enough, and at the mock conferences we’ve been running these past few weeks I’ve really surprised myself with how much better I do when a) I’m interpreting a live speaker as opposed to a recording, and b) there’s an audience sitting there and actually relying on me to understand what is being said. The good news: That’s exactly what interpreting is like in a professional setting. The bad news: It’s not what it’s like in the final exam. All in all though, I’m feeling pretty confident.
But it’s not just the course that’s been a learning experience for me. No, sir. I’ve been maximising the experience this time around: As I mentioned in my last post, I signed up to be president of the Postgraduate Society, and this has been an eye-opener in many ways. For one thing, I’ve had to get over my fear of speaking to strangers on the phone! It’s also helped me to manage my time better and procrastinate less by getting 5-minute tasks done and out of the way when I get the chance. I’m learning how to organise and manage large-scale events, how to work in (and manage) a team, how to interact with representatives from the businesses we co-operate with and how to talk to our members and get them involved in what we’re organising for them. I’m incredibly glad I signed up for this, because, like many of the skills I’ve gained more or less by chance over the years, I didn’t realise how important they were until I started needing to use them.
There’s also another, less formal ‘society’ of sorts that I’ve been involved in, which I also mentioned briefly in my last post. We members all affectionately refer to it as ‘Dinner Club’ and it entails exactly what you think it does – pretty much every night, one (or often two) of us will cook a meal for all six members and we eat together, usually while listening to the boys bicker about something or criticise each other’s cooking. I seem to have assumed the role of ‘Mum’ in the group, and, on top of the cooking itself, this also appears to entail taking care of the back-office maintenance. We need to know who will be home for any given meal, who will be cooking what and when. Some of us have specific dietary requirements (and by ‘some of us’ I mean Jesse, who will complain if he perceives a lack of red meat or ‘green things’ in any given meal, and Will, who won’t eat his beef unless it’s dry as a bone, brown throughout and bears a close resemblance to leather). Naturally, there’s also the issue of making sure everyone cooks their fair share, and the yelling at people for always leaving all their crap in my kitchen.
I haven’t added ‘Mum of Dinner Club’ to my CV yet, but I think it is definitely interview-worthy material: When I’m asked about my team skills, or my management and co-ordination abilities, or my social traits, it’s a useful example to be able to whip out and wave around. And it’s just as well, because the job hunt is back on, and it’s for real this time. Once my exams are over I can kick the freelancing back up a notch, but come September when my course finishes, it’ll be time for me to get a ‘real’ job, once and for all. I’ve decided that this will entail moving abroad again: My languages could do with some more immersion treatment and I’m just itching to get back out into that big old gorgeous world again. I’ve applied for in-house translation positions in France, Spain, Switzerland… I’m even considering moving to Italy to soak up the language while working in a café or something.
In any case, I’ve been doing test translations and Skype interviews on top of everything else and hoping that something will work out. I’m sure something will, but in the meantime there’s lots to do and no small amount of pressure on! Thankfully, we’re in good old Reading Week at the moment, so I’ve been able to catch up on a few things at last – like this blog, for instance!
I’ll leave it there for now, so you have a taste of what’s been keeping me from posting. Hopefully next time I’ll come bearing good news on the professional front!
Lots of love,