Jennifer ZelphatiConference Interpreting
As a graduate of ISIT’s Master in Conference Interpreting, Jennifer saw herself working in the private sector in Paris straight out of school, before leaving to work in an anglophone country. She also plans on spending this year specializing in legal interpretation, another exciting opportunity for interpreters.
What did you study before entering ISIT?
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been fascinated by English. I travelled a lot with my parents. Then my middle school English teacher suggested that I take bilingual studies at the lycée Notre Dame du Grandchamp in Versailles, where classes are taught in French and English, before getting my high school degree specializing in science in 2005. Then I went to the University of Kent in England, where I obtained an undergraduate degree in Music and Events. I worked for six months as an events organizer in a London luxury hotel before returning to France. I was looking for a program that would allow me to turn my interest in languages into a profession. That’s how I got the idea to become an interpreter.
Why become an interpreter?
I like the “no safety net” aspect of the job, the challenge of being ready all the time. To be an interpreter is also to allow two people to better understand one another by providing precision and accuracy.
When I took the ISIT entrance exams, the jury seemed especially friendly; they tried to put us at ease and I immediately wanted to come to ISIT! This first impression was confirmed later: the teachers are very demanding, for sure, but they’re there for students. Their remarks can be hard to hear sometimes, but they’re always constructive. Their advice is personalized, students are not anonymous. Another benefit: the learning environment is very close to a professional environment—the teachers are all working professionals, there are plenty of simulation exercises, internships for international organisations (practising “dummy booth”) and volunteer opportunities.
I just graduated, so vacation first! I haven’t had one in two years, because last summer I did an internship between my first and second year of master’s study in a translation agency in London. During the internship, I was in charge of recruitment, which gave me a better idea of what companies want when they’re looking for a translator. As far as my professional goals are concerned, I started looking for work in the private sector in Paris, the main opportunity for an interpreter with French and English as active languages, such as myself. I also want to specialize in legal interpretation, so I’m going to do a third year of law study by correspondance. To me, there are many similarities between the role of interpreter and lawyer: in both cases, you are trying to solve a problem.
What is your advice to future students?
Be curious about everything and deepen your general knowledge, because you’ll be working on a variety of subjects. Learn to love to dig in to documents and do extensive research in every field. Learn how to make the most of your failures.
Funny enough, the fact that I had to repeat my first year of the master’s program actually gave me the chance to gain more confidence in myself. Faced with my first failure, I questioned a lot of things, but in the end, I matured, learned to put things in perspective and to get past the failure. I was able to strengthen my technical skills and feel more comfortable my second year, especially in consecutive interpretation.