Introducing the VEGA network (or how do you like my new hat?)

Interpreters are a versatile bunch. If you don’t believe me, just skim the transcripts of the recent Interpreting Journal Chat on Twitter that looked at how interpreters juggle their different professional profiles. During the chat (aptly titled “How many hats do you wear?”), we saw that freelance interpreters may also be translators, voice talents, entrepreneurs, business consultants, community managers, “fixers”, and much more.

My own set of headwear is not all that diverse by comparison, as most of it relates to the practice of conference interpreting and the training of the next generation. But I recently added a new hat to the collection, and that is what I’d like to talk about to you today.

A few weeks ago, I became the member for Spain of AIIC’s global VEGA network. This volunteer position became available at the time of the AIIC Assembly in January (lots of hats change heads then!), when the previous member decided to take on the job of Treasurer for espAIIC, AIIC’s Spain region.

The VEGA network is, in its own words: “a world-wide network of professional conference interpreters – all of them members of AIIC – dedicated to helping budding and junior interpreters pursue their fledgling career. ” Their website opens with the following invitation:

Welcome to the VEGA site, created by members of the International Association of Conference Interpreters.

Whether you’re interested in the profession, tempted by it or even a student interpreter, or an interpreter who is not a member of AIIC, we’ll try to answer your questions.

We will find practical information and examples of the daily life of an interpreter through a series of vignettes so as to give you an idea of the reality of our job.

Because whether you’re a budding interpreter, a beginner or an experienced professional, the difficulties encountered and the questions raised are often the same. So we wanted to share our experiences and talk about what we often keep to ourselves in AIIC , but which might be helpful to others.

Here’s some quick links to some of the resources VEGA makes available to budding interpreters on its site:

Frequently asked questions

A day in the life of a conference interpreter

Tips for beginners

Job offer checklist

Booth manners

The successful conference interpreter’s checklist

VEGA members around the world have worked hard to develop resources that will be of use to new interpreters (which are also available in French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Korean and Turkish) and share them in their regions, and for this I can only thank them. In the past, I have shared some of these resources with my own students in La Laguna in sessions on how to make the transition from the classroom to the workplace as painless as possible.

Of course, the VEGA collection is a work in progress, as more language versions go up, more questions are added to the FAQs, and ideas for new articles come in. But I hope you’ll agree that it is a useful resource for anyone wanting to know more about interpreting.

Of course, that’s not all VEGA does. Members also organise events and talks in their regions, such as the recent seminar for beginning interpreters held at the Colegio de Traductores in Buenos Aires or the upcoming Open Day on March 24 in Brussels, which is an annual event that is always well-attended. And that’s just a few examples. There are other initiatives I’ve heard about recently, but perhaps I’ll save those for future posts.

If the shoe fits …

At the risk of mixing metaphors, let me say that I think the job of coordinating VEGA’s activities for Spain fits me like a glove, since VEGA’s intention to help new interpreters as they take their first steps in the profession is a lot like what I do in this blog.

Now that I’ve got this new hat, I’ve set myself the task of exploring new ways of reaching out to interpreting schools across the country. The previous coordinator and some other AIIC members in Spain have already given me some ideas on how to do this, and I hope to be able to take action and see some results in the not too distant future. Part of my job will also be to field any queries that reach espAIIC from potential interpreting students and other newcomers to the profession (you can find us at info@espaiic.es). And I’ll be busy learning from veteran VEGA members about how the network functions and what else is being done to help budding interpreters around the world.

Which brings me to my question: if you were in my shoes (whoa, going a bit crazy with the wardrobe imagery today!), what would you do to help newcomers to the profession? What do you think they need to have, and what’s a good way for them to get it? All suggestions are welcome. I’m sure new interpreters in Spain – and anywhere else, for that matter – will thank you for it!

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4 thoughts on “Introducing the VEGA network (or how do you like my new hat?)

  1. Muchas gracias por la información, Michelle. Hace tiempo que estoy interesado en unirme a la red Vega, aunque todavía no había tenido tiempo de informarme en detalle.

    • Thanks for your comment, Fabián. Just to clarify,VEGA is not a network you have to “join” in order to obtain its benefits for new members. Rather, VEGA makes information freely available to anyone who might find it useful. VEGA’s members, of which there are about 30 around the world, are simply there to plan, coordinate and implement outreach activities for new interpreters. So you don’t have to “join” anything – just check out what VEGA has to offer, and share it if you like what you see!

  2. Sounds like a great idea, I started my course only last week, so it’s all seeming pretty daunting at the moment.

  3. Pingback: Weekly favorites (Mar 5-11) | Adventures in Freelance Translation

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