Friday evening, October 14, 2016, around forty-five students and recent graduates from seven different interpreting training programs, some from as far as St. Louis, flocked to Columbia College Chicago for IRID’s ‘After Dark’ Panel Discussion. The panel, which was composed of six panelists devoted to helping establish new interpreters in the field, answered student questions across a wide range of subjects from questions about life after graduation, handling ethical dilemmas, and even discussing mistakes they had made when they entered the field.
The discussion was structured in such a way that participants could ask questions anonymously without the pressure of asking in front of a group of peers and experts in the field. The initial questions were collected via an online form sent to registered participants before the event. During the event itself, students could write down additional questions on provided index cards and were collected by a volunteer while the event was underway.
In a feedback session with Allyson Paduano, a sophomore in her ITP, she said “I thought the whole process was done very smoothly. Having it be anonymous, all the younger level students, including myself, felt very comfortable to ask anything we had on our minds.”
The panel itself consisted of six interpreters, four were veterans of the field with mentoring experience and two were recent graduates of an ITP with 2-3 years of interpreting experience under their belt. The panel offered a balance of expert opinions while maintaining relatable to the experience that new interpreters and students go through.
Ethan Kjelland, a senior just months away from graduating, commented on the panelists. “Even though they were experts, they didn’t come across as snobby or know-it-alls.” He later went on to say, “By [the panelists] sharing their stories of [their] mess ups, that really helped me see them as, you know, colleagues or future colleagues.”
A semi-structured networking hour followed the discussion where students could network with the panelists and get more individualized questions answered.
Jessica Fogel, a 2015 graduate and working interpreter described how she benefitted from the networking hour. “[A panelist] gave me contacts and emails about getting into a mentorship program at Sinai.”
In closing, Fogel said this about the event: “Overall I thought it was one of the best IRID events I’ve been to quite honestly. It was very well organized and it catered to both still-an-ITP student as well as students like me who are about a year out. And I think that there were some students even further out who benefitted. I think it was very diverse in that way and I thought it was great.”