Welcome everyone to the fifth episode of the translation & interpreting “red carpet” series, featuring remarkable guests of the industry who kindly accepted to share with us their views on some common points. After having Valeria Aliperta and Marta Stelmaszak in the previous episodes, the guest of this week is the Spanish interpreter, Clara Guelbenzu. If you’re active in the translation and interpreting community, you’ll probably know her as the author of the famous blog on interpreting, bootheando.
Clara graduated in 1989 with a BA in English from the University of Zaragoza and went on to obtain a MSc in Human Resources Management. She was then admitted to a PhD programme in English Studies at the University of Zaragoza, but soon after finishing the second year she was hired by an international institution (Ciheam: International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies) to work as a trainee interpreter for 18 months. After this working experience, she went to Argentina and worked as a freelancer for a few months and in 1992 Clara was hired again by Ciheam where she has been working ever since.
It’s a great pleasure for me to have Clara here and thank her very much for her time. ¡Muchas gracias, Clara!
When did you first become aware of your calling and what happened since then?
“I’ve always loved languages and communication and had done some translation and liaison interpreting work for friends and colleagues but when I was hired by Ciheam and first entered a booth and listened to my colleagues I knew that was the work I had always wanted to do. I still remember that speaker and the voice of the interpreters coming out from the English and French booths. “
Did you choose your specialisation or was your specialisation that chose you?
“My background is completely unscientific but since the institution I work for focuses mainly on agriculture, food and rural development I have ended up becoming quite specialised in scientific matters related to agriculture, from genetics, nutrition, breeding or biotechnology to econometrics, aquaculture, fisheries, forest fires, pests control or water management, just to name a few of the main topics.”
Why did you choose to work as an in-house interpreter rather than going freelance?
“Becoming staff interpreter was a great opportunity I couldn’t afford to miss; how else could I enjoy so many hours of interpreting, a steady income and ensure the continuity of life-long learning?”
Should anyone want to specialise in your field, would you recommend anything in particular?
“If a graduate student wants to specialize in interpreting I should certainly recommend a MSc programme plus as much work experience as possible (be it ad honorem, dummy booth or by volunteering for NGOs).”
How significant are or have been social networks and personal branding for your current position?
“Social networks have played a major role in letting me know and contact the rest of the interpreting world. From a professional perspective it’s been extremely useful and a very fruitful experience, since otherwise I may have not contacted so many interesting colleagues from so many places. Social media enable you to get out of your little world and “visit” many more realities and learn from them.”
How did you make your name in the interpreting industry? Any dos and don’ts?
“Well, I don’t think I have a name in the interpreting industry, but my career as an interpreter has always been based on self analysis, hard work and perseverance. Progress is only made if you really enjoy and love your job. And “You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb”, as W. Churchill said.”
Clara also kindly contributed to another post, featuring also Lloyd Bingham and Merche García Lledó. If you’d like to know about how she got her first job and the three tips she would give in this regard, you can read “How to find an in-house job?“.
Next Monday don’t miss the following episode of the translation & interpreting “red carpet” series with Scheherezade Surià López!
As always, feel free to leave any comment. Have a great week everybody!