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November 16, 2020

Making the Most of Your Internship

An interview with Adjunct Professor and Internship Advisor Dr. Elizabeth Lowe and Master of Science in Translation and Interpreting (MSTI) graduate Elizabeth Perez Diner. Edited by Rachel Beecher, Steinhardt, 2022.

 

The Internship in Translation & Interpreting course is an elective within the MSTI that offers students the opportunity to hone their professional skills in a real work environment, while also providing an academically structured internship. A faculty member leads biweekly class sessions that include discussion, research, and assignments that examine work models, parallel sectors in the job market, organizational behavior and other industry-specific topics.

Q: Dr. Lowe, can you discuss the function of internships in the MSTI program?

Dr. Elizabeth Lowe: The internship program for the students in the NYU School of Professional Studies MS in Translation and Interpreting is designed to be an important step in preparing graduating students for their professional lives and careers.  Finding an internship requires imagination and persistence on the part of the students and guiding them as an “outside advisor” presents the faculty member with a unique opportunity to provide outside perspectives and suggestions to the student during the process. By definition, the faculty member is not directly involved in the internship itself but observes it through the information provided by the student. In my experience, what has enhanced this process is a schedule of frequent communications between the intern and the professor, along with developing a set of guiding criteria and questions that the intern can use in developing a relationship with the mentoring organization.

 

Q: Elizabeth, how did you figure out which internship was right for you?

Elizabeth Perez Diner: As I approached the conclusion of my journey at the Master in Translation at NYU, I wanted a more bespoke and personalized experience to complement my online learning. 

I was hoping to find an internship where I could practice translation and interpreting, but also deepen my understanding of intricate legal concepts, which are not easily obtained by just doing translations or learning court terminology. While (re)searching potential internships, using keywords such as “interpreting, translation internships in New Jersey; unpaid and paid legal interpreting internships in New Jersey; and “legal-aid societies internships in New Jersey” I discovered Legal Services of New Jersey (LSNJ) website.

 

Q: What was the application process for your internship with LSNJ?

Elizabeth Perez Diner: Connecting with LSNJ’s team was a simple process. I submitted an online application for an unpaid internship in the Language Department. The HR Director contacted me for an interview. The interview panel included the HR Director, the VP of LSNJ, the Director of Language Services, and one translator/interpreter. The day after my interview, I was offered the internship, and I started the same week that I applied!

As soon as I secured my internship, Dr. Lowe was designated as my advisor. She guided me every step of the way, helping to make this internship an academic, professional, and stimulating learning experience. At LSNJ, Catarina Pedreiro, Assistant Director of Language Services, was the person in charge of handing me all assignments and correcting them. We had a close and, I hope, permanent communication.

 

Q: Dr. Lowe, what is the process for advising an internship, specifically with Elizabeth?

Dr. Elizabeth Lowe: The experience of working with Elizabeth Perez Diner on her internship process with LSNJ was rewarding because of the quality of the organization and the opportunities it offered to Elizabeth to apply a number of concepts that she has learned and practiced in the MSTI. Among these were team communications, quick responsiveness to client needs, practice of writing skills in both English and Spanish, mastery of legal terminology, compliance with confidentiality protocols, and creative use of time when an assignment was not immediately available. Creative, independent thinking and personal initiative was crucial to success. 

Elizabeth and I were fortunate to be able to meet in person at the beginning of the semester, since my schedule allowed me to be in New York City for meetings with MSTI program staff and students. We went over the scope of work for the internship and this prompted me to ask a number of questions that Elizabeth duly noted. I suggested she keep a journal of her experiences, that she log her tasks for each workday, and note any particular difficulties she was encountering. When such difficulties might be due to communications with supervisors, I suggested she explain the nature of what she was experiencing and ask for guidance. Often it is important to “educate” the client on the challenges of the translation task and to ask for more specific instructions.  I also suggested that Elizabeth interview some of her co-workers and this proved to be a challenging, but rewarding task, since it opened insights into the workings of the organization as well as the wide range of cases that the organization represents.

The requirement was to produce a 7,500-word piece of writing relating to their internship showing an appropriate level of academic rigor. We set a delivery schedule and outline for this work and I provided ongoing feedback, which was both substantive and editorial, for Elizabeth to consider. My comments on her narrative and translations focused around register, style, terminology, and client-ready preparation of the text, including editing, proofreading for accuracy and clarity, and formatting. We discussed resources that could help with the project, both material and human (in the form of readers or peer reviewers).

 

Q: Elizabeth, what was the day to day like at your internship?

Elizabeth Perez Diner: Catarina Pedreiro received notification of all daily assignments and distributed them to those translators who are available. She asked me to do translations that were direct referrals from any of the attorneys at LSNJ. She made herself available to answer any question I had. She provided me with detailed explanations of the assignments, purpose, format, and timeline. She proofread all documents before they were handed in to the client.

LSNJ is a great source of information. They work closely with the NJ Court System, private law firms, universities, non-profit organizations, justice centers, etc. So, in my case, I expect to keep my connection with them when I need information for my work as a translator and interpreter.

 

Q: What was the overall experience with the internship?

Elizabeth Perez Diner: I am confident that whenever I need to reach out to LSNJ’s team, they will assist me. I had a positive experience from the start, and I expect to keep in touch with LSNJ from now on. 

Dr. Elizabeth Lowe: I believe that Elizabeth grew with this experience and that it further prepared her to embark on her capstone project, which I supervised last year. From my perspective, one of the best “returns on investment” of my time was the opportunity to get to know my student better, to assist her in leveraging this experience into professional opportunities, and to witness her academic and professional growth.

 


I suggested she interview some co-workers, which was a challenging, but rewarding task, since it opened insights into the workings of the organization as well as the wide range of cases that the organization represents.

Dr. Elizabeth Lowe


This is one example of an NYU SPS internship, and experiences will vary from student to student. We invite you to partner with an SPS Wasserman Center career coach on internship strategies, including how to research and secure a role, how to make the most of a remote/virtual internship, or how to stay in touch after the internship. Please schedule your appointment on Handshake!


Elizabeth Lowe is an adjunct professor in the MS in Translation and Interpreting program. She has taught Contrastive Stylistics, Translation for New Media, Editing for Translators, and Languages Professions, and she supervises capstone projects and internships. She was a recipient of the SPS Teaching Excellence award in 2018. Elizabeth is currently a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts literary translation grant, and a Fulbright Scholar.

Elizabeth Perez Diner is a recent graduate of the Master’s in Translation Program at NYU, and a freelance translator, interpreter, and artist. Additionally, she has been working on other certificates in Legal Spanish with ISDE of Spain and the Cervantes Institute. She translates and interprets with English, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Rachel Beecher is the Graduate Assistant for the MSTI program. She is a first year graduate student in the Educational Theatre program at Steinhardt. She is a recent transplant from Philadelphia, where she spent the last ten years working as a teaching artist, stage manager, and arts administrator.


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