Interview with ITIA member Adam Brozynski
Describe yourself professionally in a few lines.
This question is more difficult than it seems at first. This is because I am somebody who wants to grow perpetually and therefore who I am professionally is an ever evolving concept. I suppose first and foremost I am a community interpreter. However, I am also a translator. In fact just a few weeks ago I gained a new qualification and I became a sworn translator with the Polish Ministry of Justice, having passed a very difficult examination in Warsaw. On top of that I have been an ITIA Certified Legal Translator for a number of years now. I am also an English teacher and I run English courses mainly for my local Polish community. If that was not enough I also have my own translation agency called FIRST POLISH which helps me realise my business ambitions. I enjoy the variety of professional activities and it certainly helped me keep my head above water during the recession, however now that the economy is back on track, I must admit it is hard to reconcile all paths without working 12 hours a day.
When and why did you decide on a career in translating/interpreting?
Translating and interpreting was my plan B which I implemented after plan A failed. The big dream was to become a physician and I even managed to get into the Medical Academy at some point, however dissecting corpses from the second world war turned out not to be my cup of tea. It was tough to resign from that dream, but because I already had pretty good English at that time, having lived in London for a year at the age of 18, I decided to pursue English studies. As opposed to Human Anatomy I found learning the English language and culture really enjoyable. Then, in the same building that the Teachers Training College was in, the post-graduate School of Translation, Interpreting and Foreign Languages was set up and I thought it could be an interesting challenge. I felt that studying Translation would be more ambitious that just studying ELT. And it really was – the bar was raised by a few notches.
Name the most important thing you did that helped you launch your career.
I think joining the ITIA was one of the most important factors in establishing myself as a Polish translator and interpreter on the Irish market. It is a great platform for getting your name out there
I think joining the ITIA was one of the most important factors in establishing myself as a Polish translator/interpreter on the Irish market. It is a great platform for getting your name out there and for building a network of professionals who sooner or later recommend one another’s services to clients and so create business opportunities. But your career will never take off unless you can perform to your clients’ satisfaction. You must be able to provide your services at the highest level, and if you can do that, things will take care of themselves no matter how poor you are at marketing. Sooner or later everyone must stand up to the scrutiny of the market.
How important are training and qualifications for a career in translating/interpreting?
I think T/I is one of those fields where natural talent can take you quite far. On the other hand, it is hard to compensate for lack of same with hard work. This is not to say that training and qualifications are not important for interpreters and translators. Even the most talented interpreters/translators still need training if they want to reach the heights of their profession. Unfortunately in Ireland where T/I is not a regulated profession. The popular belief, especially within the community interpreting circles, is that everyone who speaks a foreign language is automatically able to translate/interpret, which is obviously untrue. This is often impossible to verify for a client, and as a result within the community interpreting sector there are examples of unqualified and untrained interpreters who are very busy and one could say successful. They are very experienced but unfortunately due to the lack of formal training they often exhibit some bad habits and constantly make the same mistakes, that they are not even aware of and which are not really acceptable for professional interpreters Hopefully the clients’ awareness of quality issues with regard to interpreting/translation will continue to grow in Ireland, and sooner rather than later there will be no place within the profession for people without training and formal qualifications.
Hopefully the clients’ awareness of quality issues with regard to interpreting/translation will continue to grow in Ireland, and sooner rather than later there will be no place within the profession for people without training and formal qualifications.
How do you find clients?
To answer simply, I find clients anyway I can i.e. through networking, social media or word of mouth, websites, advertising (leaflets), etc. A lot of clients find me through recommendations from other clients so, as mentioned earlier, it is very important to perform consistently at a high level so as to impress your clients. Another useful marketing tool is the ITIA website and their registers of members and Certified Legal Translators. Therefore, to anyone who wants to pursue a T/I career I would say: become an ITIA Professional Member and a Legal Certified Translator as soon as possible and make sure your name is on those registers!
Do you think it is necessary to specialise?
I think some level of specialisation is unavoidable, but I am the best example of someone who is kind of a jack of all T/I trades. I think at the beginning of your career you really have to follow the money and you have to accept whatever work comes your way. Specialisation is probably a luxury that you can afford to have at a later stage in your career when you have so many clients and so much work that you can allow yourself to be selective. Of course there are many advantages to becoming specialised in a particular area. If you establish yourself as an expert in a given field you can charge higher rates for your work, and you can do your work more efficiently and cost-effectively.
What is your favourite type of text/assignment?
I love all interpreting assignments as long as I can carry them out in humane conditions. By that I mainly mean having a comfortable seat, the right amount of breaks at the right time (preferably a 5 min break every 20 min), some water to lubricate my throat every now and again, an opportunity to prepare for the assignment, and remuneration commensurate with my qualifications and the complexity of the assignment. As a former medical student I must say I often enjoy translating medical documents even though they can be quite challenging and time consuming. Not only do I enjoy the challenge but they also give me a chance to expand my own medical knowledge.
What is the best/worst thing about being a translator/interpreter?
For me the best thing about being a translator/interpreter is the freedom and independence of being a freelancer. I really enjoy being my own boss and cannot imagine going back to being an employee and having someone telling me what to do. However, the downside of it is that my working day rarely lasts only 8 hours. Finding the work/life balance is a real difficulty and requires a lot of self-discipline. One must remember to watch the clock, to manage the time, and to prioritise.
What advice would you give someone thinking of embarking on a career as a translator/interpreter?
My advice would be if this is what you feel you want to do in your life, then you must absolutely do it! Always follow your dream! Beginnings are never easy, but if you are passionate about something, there is no doubt you will become good at it and will eventually succeed!
Remember also that if you want to be a freelancer, you will essentially be running a business and so you need some business skills as well as linguistic and translation abilities. Therefore make sure the university course you do also incorporates some business education.