Faiza Syed

Describe your journey as an interpreter:

This career was just a fortunate discovery when I was looking for work as a university student back in the mid-nineties.

I sat a test and attended an interview with the government’s translating and interpreting agency in Oslo after seeing a newspaper ad. I received training, and once I started working, I found interpreting incredibly important and rewarding. The pay was not to be complained about either.

A few years after migrating to Australia, my decision to join TIS was again a practical one. NAATI had announced that renewal of credentials in the future would require evidence of current work experience and professional development activities. While my initial motivation for joining was to keep my Level III Urdu Interpreter credential, I started dedicating more time to TIS when I realised that many of the Urdu-speaking TIS clients were the most vulnerable members of our society. I felt obliged to adopt interpreting as a long-term work stream.

I lost my NAATI recognition as a Norwegian interpreter due to a lack of practise opportunities in Australia. However, I still receive TIS calls for Norwegian once in a blue moon.

Can you recall the moment when you decided to become an interpreter? What/who inspired you to make that choice?

To begin with, translating and interpreting were very practical work choices for me as a student and would-be-mum. The inspiration came after I stepped into the role of an interpreter. The powerful role, carried out responsibly, won me a great deal of respect and gratitude. There are probably very few jobs where one gains so much just by doing one’s job conscientiously.

What part of being an interpreter do you find most rewarding?

Being able to help people who otherwise would not be able to communicate adequately, particularly those who are going through life crises with the added difficulties of being migrants in a very different society.

Here, I take the liberty to mention another very rewarding aspect of this job: continuous learning.

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an interpreter?

Read a lot and listen a lot in the languages that you wish to practice. Good skills in both languages and good general knowledge are the keys to being able to do your job well. Be respectful and humble in this powerful role.

What is one skill you think everyone should have?

I could talk about many skills, but I think having the patience to handle those who are not good communicators is very important.

What aspect of interpreting do you consider most challenging and how do you manage this?

That aspect has nothing to do with my role as an interpreter. It affects me as a person when I experience that there is just not enough help for people who are struggling. I focus on playing my part as best as I can.

How do you maintain focus and switch from one interpreting job to another? What helps you with your day-to-day interpreting tasks?

Never really thought about it. I guess this is an automatic switch. Listening to music, reading, and doing home chores in between interpreting jobs comes naturally to me.

Is there a particular assignment that has remained with you as being particularly memorable or rewarding?

From among countless memorable moments, I feel blessed when I interpret for some severely persecuted religious minorities from my home country. Towards the end of the interpreting situation, I can sense their relief and gratitude for having received ethical and competent interpreting service.

When are you at your happiest?

Sharing experiences with my family, taking walks in nature, travelling, and many other things that bring about good laughter.

How would your friends describe you in three words?

Reliable, principled and family-oriented

What are you most thankful for?

Honestly… everything. I feel that I have been very fortunate to have everything that I have.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

When making choices in life, always think of your wellbeing in the long run.