Takeaways from NOTIS Panel Discussion: Working with Agencies

11/27/2017 09:31 | Elise Kruidenier

Panel Discussion: Working with Agencies

On November 11, NOTIS hosted a panel discussion with the following participants:

* Stacey Brown-Sommers, MindLink
* Jessica Rogauskas, Universal Language Service
* Dimitri Azadi, Purple
* Suenne Dixon, Academy of Languages

The panelists discussed the topic of working with agencies: how to start out, get work, maintain good relationships, etc. Here, we’ll provide an overview of what was discussed during the panel.

The takeaway message here is that there is plenty of work for everybody, although it can take time to get established, depending on your language pair. Of course, your language skills need to be solid, but the panelists emphasized soft skills even more. If you’re professional and you work well with others, you’re more likely to get called back.

Below is a summary of questions discussed.

Why are agencies relevant?

Agencies provide a number of benefits for linguists:

* scheduling
* billing and taxes
* confidence you’ll get paid
* marketing
* communication and education with client
* HIPPA compliance
* advocacy for contractors and the industry

Do agencies worry about linguists leaving for direct clients?

* No, contractors are free to work independently, and generally must, because no one agency can provide enough work for a full schedule.
* However, it’s not cool to steal clients. It happens, but not often.
* An attitude of abundance is helpful. There is a lot of potential work for everybody.

How can interpreters build a good relationship with agencies?

* Be clear about your specialities, so an agency knows when to call you.
* Get certified.
* Do continuing education.
* Be engaged with the agency and the community.
* Be professional.
* Don’t be a diva.
* Be willing to travel.
* Answer the phone.
* Show up for work on time (surprisingly, this is a big issue).
* Be proactive and clear about any problems.

How can you stand out as a translator?

* Read the instructions carefully.
* Work independently.
* Engage with agency (likes on social media, etc.).
* Do continuing education.
* Be clear about qualifications (language, specialities, certifications).
* Have a profile on LinkedIn (with picture—this makes a difference for many).
* Meet your commitments.

How can we work better together?

* Work as a team.
* Communicate clearly.
* Keep the client happy.
* Have good relationships with colleagues.
* If you’re turning back a job, recommend a colleague who is available.
* Communicate about problems.
* Work to ensure fair policies.
* Show up on time.
* Read policies about client cancellations so you’re not surprised about getting paid.

Comments about ASL interpreting

* Team work helps interpreters mentor and also become aware of serious problems with performance.
* ASL is a small community, so awareness of issues spreads fast.

Getting started as a new translator/interpreter

* Get involved in the community.
* Get certified.
* Do continuing education.
* Follow up with agencies from time to time.
* Turnover rate is high, so be patient.
* Be flexible (be willing to travel or work on short notice).
* Don’t turn down work too often. It’s fine to be booked already.

Thank you to German translator Melody Winkle for taking notes!

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