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I was reviewing some posts in this community when it struck me that some posters seem to imply/say your future home base is somewhat determined by your school's location.
edit: What I really meant was that posters suggest you have to choose market before schools, therefore your home base is somewhat restricted by the location of the school if you are to enjoy the effects stated below. Sorry for didn't put it clear in the first place

I can see the logic. Basing in a region around your school may give you the access to some valuable resources such as teachers' job recommendation, potentially available network etc.

(In fact, I've been told by a graduate from UIBE that students from the CI program are immediately guaranteed with work because the personal connection the teachers have with employers. I figure it might also be true for CI program in Shangwai.)

But is that always the case?

What if someone studied in the US but want to launch their career in, say, Germany for the lower living costs? Or someone studied ZH-EN in China yet choose to base in Japan to take the advantaged position of having rare language combination? Or someone had have to study in one country because of the availability of programs but his best bid lies half the way across the globe?

If graduates do make such choices, how do they choose a rational and profitable home base with the generally-lacked information of markets, employment, tax scheme etc.? And how do they launch a career nowhere near their tutors or alumni?


Those "what-if"s were just crazy scenarios that I came up with. But I'd be lying if I say I didn't picture myself when I made that. I didn't intend to make it a post about me (Because I'd already posted several posts about me with similar questions.)

asked 12 Nov '15, 22:59

EliChang's gravatar image


edited 03 Jan '16, 03:39

This is only a reply to the first part of your question... students are not limited to the market where their school is, rather the sequence should be the reverse. If they have prepared their studies well they will choose a school located in the market in which they later wish to work so as to benefit from the effects you mention.

However there are plenty of exceptions to this, not least of all the EU and the UN, who take graduates from all over. In the UK there is no market to speak of, so all graduates there will have to go and set up shop elsewhere. The school/market 'rule' applies much more to the private market.

To your specifics, you should choose where to live based on the likelihood of getting enough work to make a living. Don't choose Germany because the cost of living is low (unless you also have a market for your services there) and don't go to Japan with ZH-EN. There's probably a good reason it's a rare combination there... it's not a very useful one in Japan!

In short, you can study anywhere, as long as it's a good school (but if you can study where you want to work it's an advantage). And you can set up anywhere as long as your languages are relevant to that market.

The second part of your question is a very good question! I hope someone else can answer it for you!

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answered 13 Nov '15, 01:34

Andy's gravatar image


Haha, those are my crazy assumptions, not necessary my case. But the points you made was very legit. Thank you.

(13 Nov '15, 07:55) EliChang

Hello Eli,

This is where market research comes in. Andy is completely right about choosing your market before you choose your school. That will also determine what languages and what directions you want to study. Obviously, if you have ZH you need to be biactive with something, and EN would be the most profitable. But this is a consideration everyone who writes in here needs to take into account when they are deciding on ABC or ACCC, etc. In your case, ZH<>EN is your best bet, but if you want the UN market, it would be nice to have a Fr C, though not a prerequisite.

So think about what market you want to live and work in. If you want the UN, then they tend to hire only locally, so if you want to work in Geneva, check and see if the Geneva school offers you the right combination. Or else find out if the UN tends to hire many graduates of a particular school in China and study there.

If you want the private market, then find out what cities have more use for your combination, provide a good standard of living, etc. Also, figure out if that market has any requirements - so if you want to live in Germany for the cost of living, could you make a living there in ZH<>EN without having a German C? For this, the AIIC Directory is a good place to start. And the idea of living in Japan with a ZH<>EN combination isn't bad, but you won't have much work most of the time - though when they need you, they need you desperately.

As to making a living in a region where your tutors aren't located - that's an easy question, as many of us do that all the time. For example, my degree is from MIIS in California; my first market was Washington DC, and my next was Paris.

First of all, you could find out if lots of graduates of a certain school are working somewhere in particular. The Bath school in the UK seems to have a lot of graduates (at least in the EN booth) at the UN and the EU. You would have a built-in network.

Second, you need to be a good marketer, and think outside the box. International organizations aren't the only market for a conference interpreter. There are luxury goods companies, governments, businesses, legal offices... The list goes on. So make sure to study basic business skills, and learn to market yourself professionally.

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answered 13 Nov '15, 06:57

JuliaP's gravatar image


Well those examples I pulled out was purely imaginary assumptions. But I can't say there's no me in those.

"...choosing your market before you choose your school. That will also determine what languages and what directions you want to study."

That's exactly what bewilders me at the moment.

I'll edit the question to add more details.

(13 Nov '15, 09:26) EliChang

Well, it all comes back to market research and where you really want to live vs how much you really want to make. If money is your biggest criterion, go to the school that has the most graduates making a living from interpreting. If the most important thing for yoy is living in Venice Beach (and that would be fab!), then you could work as an interpreter in different fields such as conferences, business, legal, and maybe translate as well, or find other outlets.

So it all comes back to you again (or to any person reading this post): figure out what is the most important factor for you and then do the research to find out how to get there.

(15 Nov '15, 20:44) JuliaP

Some people wind up working where their school was located because they know people there (recent graduates and professors) who can help them get their foot in the door or tell them the lay of the land, and also because they chose the school based on the languages they had.

I trained in France and planned on staying there. At the last minute, I wound up coming to the United States and was woefully unprepared for the way things worked here. It took a while and I floundered a bit without any built-in network or people to explain the way things worked. That was definitely a disadvantage starting out, but eventually the French degree turned out to be an asset. I do think it would have been better, career-wise, to have at least stayed in Europe for a while after graduating, for the better experience and being able to have a network of classmates and teachers nearby.

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answered 14 Nov '15, 08:38

InesdC's gravatar image


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question asked: 12 Nov '15, 22:59

question was seen: 2,633 times

last updated: 03 Jan '16, 03:39 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

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