What makes up a successful career as a sign language interpreter? Logically, it depends on who is asked. Regardless of what are ultimately determined to be the magic ingredients, those interpreters who are the most successful and satisfied in their work are those who consistently seek out opportunities to grow as a professional.
While this growth may seem like it is only possible over time, and time being an important part, I believe there are steps one can take to establish a foundation for success.
Below you will find 5 simple steps that will add an important level of polish to your career.
1. A Pro bono Injection.
Commit to accepting pro bono assignments. Notice I didn’t say volunteer? This commitment consciously moves us past the concerns for payment and terms and reconnects us with the fundamental reason we signed up to do this work—supporting people.
There is a tremendous satisfaction in knowing your work as a sign language interpreter has made a difference. Pro bono work will rewarm the goo inside, which will do wonders for your perspective on the work and your role in it.
Pro bono grants perspective.
2. Forgo the CEUs.
Identify a couple of learning opportunities annually that you believe will genuinely enhance your daily work, sign up, and actively attend. At the conclusion of the learning, forgo the CEUs for the activity. Consciously decide that the learning was for the enhancement of your work as a sign language interpreter and ultimately the experience of those consuming that work.
There is a confidence that comes to the interpreter who hones their craft in the interest of those who use their service.
The right type of confidence is rewarded with abundant opportunity.
3. Volunteer Your Time.
Take an opportunity to volunteer at least once per year at a community- or industry-related event. It is no secret that local, regional, and national organizations working in the interests of the Deaf community and sign language interpreters are under-resourced and depend on the generous acts of volunteers to support their work.
Become the change you want to see by lending a hand. The connections made during these opportunities will serve you both short- and long-term.
4. Celebrate Your Colleagues.
For one week, commit to sending a handwritten note of appreciation to each of the sign language interpreters you encounter on the job. Specifically compliment them on what you appreciated about their work and what you enjoyed most about working with them.
Celebrating your colleagues in this way requires that you are conscious of the work done while together and that you recognize the talents your fellow interpreters bring to the field.
The karma of these acts of appreciation will come back to you tenfold.
5. Set One Goal.
Take an opportunity to set one goal, big or small. Set out and do that thing that you have wanted to do but haven’t made time for. When done, set another. The act of setting the goal and accomplishing it is very empowering. This empowerment will extend to your work and introduce you to new opportunities to challenge yourself, all of which will make you a more versatile sign language interpreter.
So, take that photography class. You might just be the next Jo Hilton!
The easiest approach to career enhancement for a sign language interpreter is through acts of conscious generosity. Through a willingness to give of your time, talents, and resources you will discover an abundance of opportunity to create a meaningful difference in the lives of those we serve. It is in these opportunities that true career enhancement is possible.
What suggestions do you have on how to enhance the career of a sign language interpreter?
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