Breda Ní Mhaoláin, Legislative Translator and Conference Interpreter, Houses of the Oireachtas
Legislative Translator and Conference Interpreter
Employer Houses of the Oireachtas
Education BA Irish and Psychological Studies (2005); MA Translation Studies- Irish, English (2006); Postgraduate Diploma in Conference Interpreting- English, Irish (2011), NUI Galway
I grew up communicating with my family through both Irish and English. I wanted to support my Irish fluency with a qualification, so I decided to continue studying Irish in university. I graduated with a BA in Irish and Psychological Studies from NUI Galway. Although, I had little interest in pursuing a career in translation, I wanted to perfect my written level of Irish through an MA in translation studies at NUI Galway. To my surprise, I grew to appreciate the art of translation. Fortunately, the course also included a module in interpreting; although it was brief, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it ultimately affected my career path. After a few tumultuous years working as a freelance translator, I decided to further develop my language skills with a postgraduate diploma in conference interpreting at NUI Galway.
With two Level 9 qualifications under my belt, I chose to take the inter-institutional accreditation test commissioned by the European Union (EU). The exam process is highly-competitive, with a low-success rate, so I was thrilled when I passed the exam and officially became an EU accredited conference interpreter. I then began interpreting from Irish to English for a number of EU events. As an Irish interpreter, I assumed that most of my work would be limited to Ireland. However the EU gave me with the opportunity to travel and work in an international environment using the native language, something I never dreamed would be possible.
My current position working for the Houses of the Oireachtas as a legislative translator and conference interpreter was offered to me two years after I had originally applied for the role. By chance my application was kept on file, and when a job in translation opened, I was offered the job. I primarily translate government documents from English to Irish, such as acts, amendments, press statements and reports. I also work as a conference interpreter for events at the Dáil, Seanad and various committee meetings. This position allows me to practice both my translation and interpreting skills, an aspect of my job which I especially enjoy.
My educational background coupled with life experience equipped me with a number of essential skills that I use every day in my current role. My MA developed and perfected my technical skills, such as precision and accuracy, two qualities that are vital to my profession. My experience working as a conference interpreter for the EU, not only polished my oral abilities and enhanced my communication skills, but it ultimately boosted my confidence.
For language graduates seeking work in translation or interpretation, I would suggest contacting translation agencies. They are a great medium which to network through and establish industry contacts. When applying for jobs, it can be disheartening when you don’t immediately hear back from an employer. In this case, I’d suggest sending a follow up e-mail; it demonstrates your persistence and hunger for the particular job which will impress an employer. It is also important to note when working as a conference interpreter or translator, your ability to be reliable and punctual means everything to your reputation and can affect your job opportunities.