This month, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Alexander C. Gansmeier, a conference interpreter who is passionate about his work!
NAME: Alexander C. Gansmeier
PROFESSION: Conference Interpreter
WORK LANGUAGES: German and English
PLACE OF RESIDENCE AND WORK: Munich, Germany
What kind of interpreting work do you do and what type of clients do you work with?
There are very few types of interpreting I don’t do. Predominantly, I work at conferences, international and board meetings, press events, trade fairs and the likes. I have also done some work in hospitals and psychiatric wards while I lived in the UK, but haven’t done that since my move back to Germany. Court and legal work is not really my cup of tea. I simply don’t feel entirely comfortable in that work environment, so I tend to avoid it.
Can you provide a brief description of your typical work day?
I can’t, which is precisely what I love about it! When I’m not on assignment, I usually head over to the office at around 9.30 and keep myself busy finding new customers, social media marketing, writing articles for various publications, taping podcasts or putting time and energy into the German Association of Conference Interpreters (VKD), which I am a board member of.
When I am on assignment, there is no telling what a normal day looks like. One day you’ll be doing a press conference in a beautiful hotel in the Austrian Alps, the next day you could interpret a medical interview in Munich, the day after that you could be off to Madrid for a trade union conference and so on and so forth. They say variety is the spice of life and I believe that in no job does this hold more true than in interpreting.
What aspects of your profession do you enjoy most?
Basically, it all boils down to three things: people, variety and adrenaline.
I love working with people – be it my booth partners during a simultaneous conference or the clients I interpret for during bilateral meetings – and not sitting at my desk 24/7.
Secondly, as I have mentioned before, interpreting assignments are so varied that even if you are covering a topic that might not be 100% for you, the next job could be the best and most interesting one you’ve had so far. I love that!
I also organize conferences with interpreting teams and the interpreting equipment for some clients. This adds another fantastic layer to an already incredible diverse profession that I thoroughly enjoy. The largest event I’ve organized so far was 12 booths, meaning 24 interpreters/12 languages. From travel arrangements, to the equipment, to accommodation and preparation material, I covered everything from A-Z and loved it!
Lastly, when sitting in the booth, time and time again I love that kick you get when the speaker finally flips the switch, starts talking and it’s show time for you. I also believe this is why simultaneous is my favorite type of interpreting since the gratification of a good turn of phrase is instant and you can bob and weave through the speech with more ease than with other types of interpreting. That being said, I’ve had quite a few consecutive interpreting jobs recently and feel like I’ve tasted blood again – proverbially of course!
Which aspects do you least enjoy?
The admin. Drafting quotes, sending out contracts, putting time and energy into getting your paperwork in order for tenders, all of that I could do without. However, I do love writing invoices after a long week in the booth!
How long have you been working as an interpreter?
August 2016 marked my five-year company anniversary.
Did you in fact study to become an interpreter? If not, what did you study originally?
I did! I never really had a plan B in life. As soon as I discovered interpreting for me, that was it. I only applied to one interpreting institute for my BA-equivalent and after that only to one university for my Masters. Luckily I got accepted into both, otherwise I have no clue where I would be right now.
What is your career path? Why did you make the decision to work as an interpreter?
In school English has always been my favorite subject so it was only logical that I was going to pursue a career “with English” at some point. Upon doing a bit of research, I found out about this strange thing called interpreting, that I had no real notion of what it was exactly. It sounded fun though, so I went to the open day at the Munich Institute for Foreign Languages and was able to try out some simultaneous during a session for the visiting prospects. I was instantly bitten by the interpreting bug and never looked back ever since!
Is interpreting your sole professional occupation?
It is and it is truly the one and only thing I could see myself doing at this point.
Spanish and English > French translator
French and Spanish teacher (face-to-face/Skype)