What attracted you to become a language professional at the United Nations?
The main reason was the chance to work in a multicultural and multilingual environment. Language professionals in the Documentation Division come from all around the world. I have learned so much since I started working at the United Nations: not only about United Nations-specific subject matters, but also, and particularly, about different varieties of Spanish. Spanish is the official language in 21 countries, and this fact makes it incredibly rich.
How do you find working for the United Nations different from your previous jobs?
This is my first job as an in-house professional translator, since I worked as a self-employed translator for over 15 years in the health-care and medical field. I think the main difference is the variety of text genres and topics, as well as the working environment, since I now work collaboratively on a daily basis. Another great difference, which meant a huge change in my career, is the topics of the documents that I translate. My experience as scientific translator is an asset in terms of research and documentation methodology, but it also meant I had to adjust to new genres and subject matters that took me out of my comfort zone.
What part of your job do you consider interesting? Why?
United Nations documents deal with so many topics that almost every one of them is a challenge in terms of knowledge, terminology and style. Topics range from international affairs, development and peacekeeping to economic, social and scientific issues, and almost everything in between. For instance, you can start your day with a message from the Secretary-General to celebrate an international day and finish it with the budget of a peacekeeping mission. Learning and researching are key to delivering high-quality translations as required by the United Nations and, to my mind, the sheer beauty of being a translator.
Do you have any advice for budding language professionals? Any tips on how to prepare for the competitive examinations for language positions?
I would recommend they pay utmost attention to their main language use, style and rules. The documents that we produce should be appropriate to the subject matter, and translators should show a thorough command of the target language. Having a good night’s rest before the exam is key, as is being nourished and hydrated. During the exam, they should translate the text fully and within the time frame provided.