With everything slowly coming to a halt, it is a good time to reflect on the real meaning of ‘feast and famine’ where interpreters (and translators) are concerned.
What do I mean?
I am obviously not talking about lack of food here, what I mean is that perhaps the ‘feast’ period (i.e. regular work) has turned into not having as many face-to-face assignments or having them cancelled at the last minute. At a time like this, with measures to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, we have two choices: to join the world in panic mode or to create space for self-growth and development.
Professionally you can use this downtime (‘famine’) to catch up with the tasks necessary to drive your business forward that we often fall behind on:
- Administrative tasks – get on top of emails and your bookkeeping, send all your claim forms and invoices to your clients for work completed recently;
- Client outreach – do a client inventory and call those who have not given you work recently: maybe you can offer them your remote interpreting services?
- Marketing – what better time to dedicate some hours to the most challenging aspect of our work? Start marketing your business and be consistent.
If there are areas in your business which you are not so knowledgeable about, this is the time to seek training from colleagues who are more experienced in this field. I have done just that at the recent CIoL Conference where I attended a double session by Vasiliki Prestridge where this idea of the feast and famine cycle in self-employment was discussed. We are always learning as interpreters and translators. Even after 20 years, I am blown away buy the sheer amount of things I am learning.
Don’t just focus on the professional aspect – think about your personal development as well
Pick up that book that’s been sitting on the shelf for a while, listen to podcasts, get moving! It’s important to realise that you need to fill your glass up first. You’ve all heard the saying ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’ right? You’re the cup, and rest and self-care is what fills it.
Recently I’ve been thinking more about the personality traits that are instrumental to an interpreter’s success – I will be writing more about that soon. But I will mention one here today – I am more than certain that curiosity is one of the most important traits interpreters need to have. Start now during this famine period and unleash your curiosity. Expand your knowledge in topics you know less about, research that list of terms that you have in your notebook or on your phone, or make a plan for the upcoming year ahead with realistic and actionable steps. Yes, the year has just started and there is so much to learn!
Let’s unite and create a community of knowledgeable professionals. I have recently announced that I’ll be offering monthly masterclasses from April onwards. These live sessions will cover relevant topics and pain points that we as interpreters and translators experience and we will discuss how to combat them. It’s also a great opportunity to ask any questions you have about the industry or any of the courses or services we offer. In addition to that, if you aren’t a part of our community already, head on over and join us. The DPSI Online Community on Facebook is a safe place where interpreters and translators can ask questions relating to the industry and share helpful tips and resources.
We all need to do our part to look out for others.