Like anything in life, a pleasant working environment is a two-way street. This applies in the booth, more than ever. Given the age disparity in many interpreting booths, our team felt that both older and younger colleagues deserve tailored advice to ensure smooth collaboration at any event.
For young, freshly minted interpreters:
DO prepare, just like your EMCI teachers told you to do. It makes a difference. Also be there early and check the documents for the next point of the agenda. It makes a huge difference.
DO be open to criticism and tips from your older colleague. Unlike in other professions, interpreters often start out working their first assignments alongside seasoned pros. Take advantage.
DO let your colleague know how much you value their experience and insights. Remember, in ancestral cultures, older adults were revered.
DO indulge boomers in their denial of old age. When you hear comments about how you weren’t even born when they sipped on Daiquiris during that conference in pre-Castro Havana, nod, smile, and giggle. Teeheehee.
When colleagues complain about not travelling business class to Luanda DO act sympathetic. Personne n’aime la classe prolo !
DO coo over photos of your colleagues’ grandchildren, even if you think children are the most revolting thing around.
DO invest in a small, yet classic wardrobe. H&M can only get you so far, and the Commission is no place to demonstrate that le look très Brooklyn has arrived in Europe.
DO dress conservatively for work. As Beyonce would say, the European Parliament is indeed NOT ready for this jelly.
DON’T show up hung over. Just don’t. Not even if it makes you interpret better.
DON’T over do it on the make-up or dress too provocatively. You are going to work, not to da club.
DON’T have full GChat/iPhone chat/Facebook chat/Snapchat/What’sApp sessions on your smartphone while working. It perpetuates negative stereotypes, and you can’t follow what is happening. Also, avoid Candy Crush Saga.
Your colleague may not know how to operate his iPad. DO be patient and explain how, in simple terms. In fact, if it’s necessary, go ahead and spend an entire afternoon syncing his Gmail account instead of reading your briefing for the meeting.
DON’T go crazy with fried food and dessert at lunch. It only inspires envy and comments about how your metabolism won’t stay like that.
Your colleagues will moan from time to time about how old or fat they have become. DON’T engage. Just like when your girlfriend asks if those pants make her look fat. That is why there is a right to remain silent.
DON’T feel depressed or like you are doing something wrong when your colleagues purchase diamonds on their lunch break, or talk about their multiple summer homes and family ranches. They had the advantage of affordable [or free] education and became interpreters during a sellers’ market. Instead of becoming envious, ruminate on strategies for getting rid of all that student and credit card debt.
DON’T let anyone know that you live in a 10m2 chambre de bonne with a shared toilet.
DON’T complain about your parents and describe them as “old.” It will not be appreciated.
DON’T laugh at the Cold War. That was real, and it also generated a lot of work.
DON’T take this guide seriously. Everyone knows millennials are too narcissistic to be capable of self-criticism! #LoLz #RealTalk