How I got Started as a Spanish Interpreter
I never thought I would ever be a Spanish interpreter in my younger years. If I would have known this was a profession I would have started a long time ago like when I graduated from high school. I had to go through different stages of my life that made me realize that I wanted to become a professional Spanish Interpreter.
I went to school at Cal State Long Beach to get my Bachelor of Science in criminal justice not knowing my life would take a turn when I attended school. My last year of college required me to commit to volunteer hours in something in the criminal justice field. I was kind of procrastinating to think of what is it that I could do for volunteer hours. It was either attending jails in a program called Jails on Wheels or something else.
One day I went to my class for criminal procedure and the professor we had was a prosecuting attorney for the Compton courthouse she mentioned the opportunity to volunteer time at the Compton courthouse. Not just any department in the Compton courthouse but volunteer in the District Attorney’s Office. She mentioned they needed help in the Domestic Violence Department and I took the opportunity. I committed for a whole semester to put in my hours and I will say I loved working there!
I loved being part of the elite team that would take down the bad people. I would come in and make sure that restraining orders were properly filed. I would help make copies of evidence, listen to phone calls made in jail, and now and then shadow attorneys in court. I felt so bossy in court because I felt like part of the court procedure. As I looked at all the key players in the courtroom I saw there were court interpreters that would facilitate communication in court. I felt so intrigued watching the interpreters in action. I knew that was what I wanted to commit to. I thought it was so boss to be around judges, lawyers, defendants, victims, the drama, I wanted it all!
So I started to shadow interpreters in court, and I was allowed to do so in my free time. I enjoyed shadowing some of the interpreters in the courthouse so I signed up for volunteer interpreting for lawyers who would intake domestic violence statements from victims at the Los Angeles Criminal Courthouse. I enjoyed volunteering my time at the courthouse because I felt that I was already working for the courts. I made sure during this time I completed Legal Spanish Interpreting Courses at the Southern School of Interpretation with Professor Wagner.
Courses and Learning Experience
Legal court Interpreting courses helped me gain knowledge of all the legal jargon in Spanish that I didn’t learn before. In all the years of education we were taught everything in English I had to make sure I knew how everything was in Spanish. I had to be taught how to rephrase the words to make sure the meaning was delivered. I had to learn how to take notes on the spot and interpret those notes on the spot when interpreting in consecutive more. I had to learn how to interpret hearings simultaneously that are pre-recorded and are often heard in hearings. I also had to learn how to interpret documents on the spot without sounding choppy or taking long pauses. I have perfected my interpreting skills over the years of interpreting on a daily basis and extra interpreting courses from Medical Intepreting Training School. My learning experience is never ending, as an interpreter I have to keep learning and gaining knowledge as I go. In order to keep up with the interpreting lifestyle there has to be constant education services going on year round.