What Do I Need To Change To Become An Interpreter

Co – Contributor: Taylor S.

What do I need to change to become an interpreter?

This is a question that comes up a lot for interpreting students. Especially extrovert students like I was. When I entered my interpreting program, I was a wild child with a loud mouth. As an interpreter in the field now, I am still a wild child with a loud mouth. I was told going into my program that I would have to change many things about myself. I couldn’t have tattoos, I couldn’t show tattoos, I couldn’t have certain piercings, I had to cut my nails, I couldn’t have colorful nails. I couldn’t have a certain hair color. The list goes on and on. The truth is, almost none of those things are true. I mean absolutely no disrespect to my own former professors. However, it is almost 2023. The field is different now. People are a lot more accepting of things. 

I am an interpreter with long colorful nails, bright and loud tattoos (that do show), and colorful hair. I have not changed my appearance or my personality since I graduated from my program. There are many ways to still be the person you are and be professional at the same time. By now you are probably wondering “But Taylor, how can that be?” Well, let’s find out. Most interpreters are women. We are a woman dominated field. Women love their fake nails and colored hair. Most professors will tell you that you cannot have colored nails. They either have to be nude or french tips. Well, that’s actually wrong. Go out and get those bright nails. Go get those designs you want. “But Taylor, those aren’t professional.” You’re right. They are not professional. However, that’s okay. I have worked a way around that. Go on amazon and get some nude color nail wraps. They are super cheap, easy to apply, and will not mess up the nails underneath. If you have an assignment that requires nude nails (contrary to popular belief, not every assignment is strict about nails) stick on some nail wraps and go. It takes less than 10 minutes to go from personality nails to professional nails. Most women often get bored with the same hair color for long periods of time. We like to change it up and try crazy colors. I know at one point I had bright blue hair. How was I able to still do observation assignments? A wig! If you want to have crazy hair but still need to be professional at times, buy a wig. Amazon has some great natural color wigs. Go out and dye your hair pink or blue or purple. You can still work as an interpreter. Just buy a wig. You want a tattoo on your arm but your professor said you can’t get one because it’s not professional? That is not true! Its 2022! The times are changing. Most people do not care if a person has tattoos or not. I did a concert not too long ago and had all of my tattoos showing. My clients did not care. Know your audience and do not be afraid to ask if they are okay with tattoos showing. You have a client that does not like tattoos? That’s fine! Why? Sweaters, tattoos cover sleeves, makeup! The list goes on. There are many ways to cover tattoos now. 

Moral of the story? You don’t have to change yourself for a job. Let me say it louder for the people in the back. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CHANGE YOURSELF FOR A JOB! What happens when you lose your personality? You lose yourself. Go get those nails done. Dye your hair. Get that tattoo or piercing. Don’t forget to be you. At the end of the day, no one wants an interpreter who has lost their personality. How are we supposed to interpret a client’s personality if we don’t even have one of our own? An interpreter is not some robot in all black clothing anymore. Be you! So again I will ask, “what do I need to change to become an interpreter?” The answer. Nothing

Coming to you from 258 Terp Time

By yours truly,

Taylor S.