Benoît MalmontetConference Interpreting
An unparalleled education for a unique profession: Benoît’s enthusiasm for conference interpreting is a perfect match for his interest in English, a flexible language that he has fun with and enjoys improvising in. Read on to learn more about this ISIT graduate who feels confident about this future career. French and English are his two active languages.
What did you study prior to starting at ISIT?
After getting my European high school degree specializing in science and English I spent a year in an Australian high school through a Rotary Club exchange. Once I got back to France, I completed a three-year university degree in English at the University of Clermont-Ferrand, and spent my third year in Ireland before enrolling on the Conference Interpreting course at ISIT.
Not only is it the most widely spoken language, it’s very creative. To me, English is a flexible language. Once you have a good foundation, you can let your imagination run wild and improvise much more than with French, which is, in my opinion, a more rigid language.
ISIT has one of the world’s most renowned conference interpreting programs, and a degree from ISIT gives you a real advantage when you enter the job market. In fact, ISIT programs are highly adapted to employers’ needs: teachers on ISIT’s Conference Interpreting course are all professional interpreters and there are many opportunities to complete internships abroad. During my studies, I was an intern at the Sochi Olympic Winter Games, as well as in European organizations and at the OECD. As a student, you are given many opportunities to experience the real world.
Why become an interpreter?
Before leaving for Australia, I wanted to be an English teacher. Once I arrived, I started to get interested in the fields of interpreting and translation. I quickly became fascinated in conference interpreting. You have to be good and convincing on the first try. Interpreters work with many different subjects, in as many different environments. I don’t know many jobs like it, except maybe in professional sports.
What are your plans for after ISIT?
With a degree in conference interpreting and with French and English as active languages, I am mainly aiming for work in the private sector in Paris. Business and media first, then probably ministries and international organizations such as UNESCO and the OECD, when I have gained more experience. Paris is a very competitive environment for interpreters with two active languages, but I already have a good professional network with many opportunities, thanks to my ISIT professors.
What is your advice for candidates and future ISIT students?
- The most important thing is to be curious! Interpreters work on many different subjects, often technical, that they must study and master to work as efficiently as possible.
- Be passionate about your field. The ISIT program is particularly difficult: the language demands are very high, there are many techniques to master and commitment is essential.
- Do not underestimate the importance of your native language, especially for native French interpreters.
- Learn to manage stress. Interpreters work in the moment and you have to be confident in yourself. The more time you spend mastering techniques and practicing, the better you will be able to manage stress and keep just the right amount of adrenaline flowing. It is also important to put things into perspective and learn to relax.
- Learn how to step out of your comfort zone, while still maintaining high standards.
- Do not be surprised if your training takes three years instead of two, as mine did. Each person progresses at his or her own pace, and taking a year to travel abroad to deepen your language skills can be very useful.
- To put it shortly, the conference interpreter course is unlike any other program. You do not just learn a skill, you gain access to a profession—and it is a profession unlike any other, so I encourage to stick with it!