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My interpreting career brings freedom and a sense of “giving back” to the community

By Romina Colak

Ever since I embarked on my new career journey, I have loved the flexibility and the sense of freedom it provides me with! Having left corporate world with tight deadlines, difficult clients and pressures of long office hours, working as an Interpreter and Translator felt like I got my life back!

I migrated to Australia from Bosnia in 1994 when I was 18 years old, and after completing Bachelor of Business Accounting in 1999 was employed as an Accountant in a Professional Services firm for 15 years.

I love the fact that I can pick up and drop off my kids to school every day, and still have a career.

I decided I wanted a career change and in 2012 became Professional Interpreter and Translator in the English and Croatian Languages (Level 3), and have been part of the Translating and Interpreting Industry ever since.

This article will highlight some of my personal experiences as well as provide my view on what I believe are great things about our job – and some difficult sides of it as well.

When I completed my NAATI exams and became accredited, I was not sure where to go and what to do. How do I get a job in the Interpreting and Translating industry?

So I searched NAATI website directory for Croatian interpreters in Melbourne, and emailed a lovely Croatian lady to schedule a meeting. That was a fantastic resource for me. She provided me with all the necessary advice on how to register with various agencies and she explained to me how the whole “system” worked.

Once I did that and started getting job offers – that was when I realised that for me, this was exactly the kind of job that I needed!  Based on the assignment location, hours required to complete the job, date and time of it – we can either accept or reject any job, without any questions being asked! How good is that? I love the fact that I can pick up and drop off my kids to school every day, and still have a career.

Another great thing about our role is that after each assignment I feel like I did something useful, I helped a person who needed my assistance. That sense of achievement and giving something back to the Croatian community is important to me.

When it comes to the difficult side of things, planning can be hard as it is always uncertain how many interpreting assignments will be on offer. Sometimes it is not easy not to know in advance the level of income for the month. In addition to this, and I am sure all interpreters would agree with me, there is room for improvement on pay rates.

Another aspect of our job that I find particularly frustrating is the inconsistent treatment of “no show” client assignments. For example, if I arrive for a medical appointment at a particular institution, and the patient has called and cancelled the appointment but nobody cancelled the Interpreter  – sometimes they might sign you off and let you go immediately, sometimes they will make you stay for some time to see if anyone else may need your services, and sometimes you are expected to remain at the venue for the whole duration of the assignment.

Having said all that, I find a career in the Interpreting and Translating Industry rewarding and one that provides me with a great work-life balance.

Romina Colak, NAATI certified translator and interpreterAuthor Biography: Romina Colak lives in Melbourne with her husband and 2 children. Their son is aged 14 years and their daughter is 11. 

Romina loves travelling and has a passion for reading. You can always put a smile on her face by recommending a good book! Offering chocolate has a very similar effect. Romina's sweet tooth is well known among her family and friends - she totally believes in cake for breakfast! 


Published: 25/02/2019