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Practitioner Spotlight: Slobodanka Trajkovski

Always follow your heart!

I was born and raised in Macedonia, a small but very beautiful country in Europe. My parents were lawyers, but growing up I was never really interested in becoming a lawyer myself. In fact, ever since I was a young girl, I was infatuated with foreign languages and cultures, and all I wanted to do was to learn them and to speak them. I remember my dream was to become an interpreter for the UN and travel the world, work alongside world famous politicians and make a difference out there.

At the age of nine, I began taking private lessons in English with a tutor, who was very knowledgeable and who had lived in London for many years, before returning to Macedonia. In a world without internet at the time, she introduced me to the double decker buses and drinking black tea with milk, which to me did not make any sense, because tea was tea and you couldn’t possibly mix tea with milk, right?! Well, who would’ve thought that 20 years later I would find myself living and working in Melbourne as a professional interpreter and translator, drinking black tea with milk religiously?

Here is how it happened. After graduating from high school, I enrolled at the University of Law in Skopje, the capital city of Macedonia. Fast forward 10 months, my life changed completely. I moved to Melbourne with my fiancé and I decided to study Media and Communication at La Trobe University. As part of my degree, I also chose to study two foreign languages – Italian and Spanish. It was the perfect blend of subjects. During my second year of studying Italian, I was awarded a scholarship and went to Perugia, where I completed my advanced studies for a month at the University for Foreigners. That was an experience of a life time! Not only I was given the opportunity to learn the language first hand, I was also able to get a taste of the Italian culture and explore its uniqueness. Rome still remains my all-time favourite city!

After graduating and getting my BA in Media studies, I started working for several government organizations, developing and finalizing multi-media projects, some of which were awarded. I then moved into the role of a broadcaster and a news producer for SBS radio (Macedonian program), a role I found to be extremely satisfying and exciting. However, at the end of 2013, after an offer was given to my husband to work for a German company based in Macedonia, we decided to go back and spend the next 3 years in our home country. It was a fantastic opportunity for the whole family to spend quality time with our parents and I even got the opportunity to work alongside my father and sister at their private law firm and get a taste of the industry.

When we came back to Melbourne in 2015, I decided to finally pursue my dream career and become a NAATI Accredited Interpreter and Translator in Macedonian. I started off working as a freelance interpreter for six months, before landing a job at the Transcultural and Language Services (TALS) at Northern Health. To say that I absolutely love my job would be an understatement! During the six years that I have worked in the healthcare sector, I have served thousands of patients from Macedonian speaking background, to ensure they receive the best possible care and make fully informed decisions. There is nothing quite like a satisfied patient and a happy clinician at the end of a consultation. Through the challenges of the pandemic and juggling between different ways of delivering the service, this profession enabled me to see the huge positive impact us interpreters have on matters as important as healthcare. Each smile and heartfelt ‘thank you’ I get from my patients is a true testament of the great importance of this profession. And that is what matters the most!

Finally, I have had the pleasure of meeting many fellow colleagues across the industry from which I have learned so much over the years and I have also participated in two consecutive NAATI tests as a role-player.

And even though I might not be practicing at the UN headquarters, I strongly believe that I am exactly where I’m meant to be.  

Slobodanka Trajkovski is a Certified Provisional Interpreter (Macedonian and English) and Certified Translator (English into Macedonian).

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