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Hello everyone,

Whilst I'm hoping interpreting will work out for me, I think it's also a good idea to have a back-up plan...just in case things don't work out for whatever reason. It's good to have at least one foot grounded in reality ;) Other than written translation or language teaching, I'm stuck for ideas.

What's everyone's back-up plan?

I feel like if you do want to do something else, language skills aren't enough. You need languages + some other highly sought-after skill.

Thanks :)

asked 20 Nov '18, 14:08

uebersetzer2019's gravatar image


What's everyone's back-up plan?

In my experience, most people don't have a backup plan. I'd even go as far that (but for a few training institutions), most to-be conference interpreters have no main plan in the first place. They don't know what the market expects, how to break into it, nor whether what they bring to the table is sought for or not. By the time they find out (the hard way), they are in no control anymore over the hand they'll have to play. They are left to graduate and slip into unemployment or some day job to make ends meet.

Truth be told, I wasn't much better informed at the time, as I wasn't thinking long term. All I knew was that my languages were deemed to be interesting, which at least saved me from the impossible equation of adding a language while studying or while struggling to put food on the table after graduation.

Those who did make it in ways I admire had thought well ahead, as early as finishing high-school and deciding what foreign language to pick up, based on the needs of the UN - and going down the road of learning Russian, rather than romance languages. Others had a four-year plan for after graduation, as to how to add a third C language to become employable by the EU.

Those who didn't think ahead are now doing something with languages. I can think of two people who are secretaries in an embassy. Others seem to have morphed into the corporate culture, starting at the bottom of the ladder and have positions such as Talent Acquisition Manager, Change Manager or Customer Satisfaction Manager. From what I take, they're all secretaries with fancy titles.

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answered 27 Nov '18, 04:36

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

edited 27 Nov '18, 04:37

I'm not sure starting out with a back-up plan is a great way to go into any profession. I think you have to start out assuming you are going to succeed or have a good chance of doing so. You can't be 100% committed if you are also learning something else on the side just in case. And you'll be reducing the amount of time available for practising interpreting. Some interpreting schools are able to offer other avenues to students who fail conference interpreting exams, for example a transfer to a course in the same university offering translation, community interpreting, international relations and other courses where language knowledge is useful. That's something a pessimist could look for when choosing a school.

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answered 29 Nov '18, 03:39

Andy's gravatar image


The good thing when you start out as an interpreter is that the (usually) small number of contracts you get the first year or two leaves you with a lot of free time that can be put to good use by either working on your languages, or learning a completely different skill which could then become your plan B. Many interpreters are increasingly worried about their working prospects on account of AI, budget cuts, deteriorating working conditions and what not (although I hear other colleagues saying that this anxiety has been around since Nuremberg). Having another set of skills, other than language skills, would at least give you some peace of mind in that regard, and you would not lose sleep over remote interpreting or being replaced by a robot, as some colleagues do. Though they may not be a majority, I know several colleagues who also are professionnals in completely different fields.

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answered 30 Nov '18, 19:01

Richter's gravatar image


edited 30 Nov '18, 19:03

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question asked: 20 Nov '18, 14:08

question was seen: 1,973 times

last updated: 30 Nov '18, 19:03 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

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