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Starting out as a freelance interpreter in Paris – an interview with Lucile Rozé

This week we are joined by Lucile Rozé who gives us an insight into her first year on the Paris market as a freelance interpreter.

Hi Lucile, thanks for accepting my invitation to give an interview for Apertis Verbis. To start with would you mind telling us a bit about yourself?

Hi. I finished my Master's in Manchester a year ago and I have since then been a freelance interpreter in Paris. I come from the town of Chantilly, north of Paris.

What made you decide that you wanted to be an interpreter?

I love foreign languages and I am interested in a wide range of topics, I think anything can be interesting, if approached from the right angle. This is why interpreting is the perfect job because one day I am the head of marketing for a multinational and the next, I am an organic farmer from southern France,...

Haha yes it's true interpreting really does let us walk in just about anyone's shoes! Could you also tell us about your experience studying, where did you learn to interpret?

I studied in Manchester. The interpreting course there is fairly recent, and I couldn't recommend it enough to young people interested in interpreting. The MA was very intense, we had a lot to learn in only one year; many mock conferences to prepare, speeches to write... it could be stressful at times but we were a tight-knit group, working hard and playing hard!

It sounds like a great experience but now that we are out in the world as professionals do you miss anything about being a student?

Having fellow students to prepare with before an assignment. I have new colleagues every time I am on an assignment so it took me a little longer to create a circle of friends. I think there is solidarity among young interpreters though, despite what you might have heard.

I definitely agree, and the support network is really important. Can you tell us about what you’re doing now?

Next week I will be interpreting a training on a new software for real estate agents and the following week I will be interpreting a visit of a car manufacture.

Sounds like a very interesting week! So what’s a typical day like for you as an interpreter on the Paris market, if there is such a thing as a “typical day”?

Content-wise, there is no typical day. But most conferences, seminars or meetings are organised in a similar fashion. Transport in Paris can be a nightmare so I try to leave early, one of the aspects I find stressful is that it is as though every working day is my first day at a new job: I want to make a good impression, arrive early, wear smart clothes... whereas most of my friends start to loosen up after a couple weeks in a company. I also try to arrive early to make sure the material works properly and to try and get a hold of the powerpoint presentations I haven't received ahead of time, and just to grab a coffee and get to know my colleague of the day. Then I like to interpret the first half hour, if my colleague does not mind, because I usually feel a bit nervous before every assignment, so the sooner I start, the sooner I can get rid of this ‘stage-fright’. Then time flies when I am interpreting. I am usually exhausted by the end of the day, as obviously interpreting requires high levels of concentration.

So through this experience are you hoping to be a freelancer long-term or would you one day hope to have an in-house position?

For now I am very happy working on the private market, it allows me to cover a wide range of topics, and I also enjoy not having a boss to report to. I think in a few years, when I have gained experience, I would like to take a test and hopefully work for NATO or the OECD. These two institutions have French and English as their official languages, and I could use my English B there, which is not the case for most institutions.

Great! We'll have our fingers crossed for you when test day comes then but for now we hope you continue enjoying the private market. What is the most important tip you would give to freelance interpreters looking to move to Paris from your perspective now that you have been working there for nearly a year?

It is complicated at first but I think the only people who make it are the ones who persevere and continue to practice every day and who try to expand their network, meet inspiring people who can give them good advice and take them to the right places.

That's such a good tip - thank you! France has notoriously complicated systems of paperwork for everything, have you found this to be an issue as a freelancer?

Not really. I set up my business online and a few days after I received my business identification number. Granted, it came along with a sea of papers about the insurance I could apply for, adverts... but now it is very easy, I declare my income online every month and social contributions are directly debited from my account. What was slightly more complicated is that I asked for a partial exemption since I had worked in France before and was thus considered unemployed when I launched this business. I think I should have gone to the Chamber of Commerce and asked for advice. You can also get advice from Apec, an association helping young people entering the labour market.

It sounds a lot less complicated then we imagined then! And what, if anything, do you miss about living in England?

I miss being able to discuss any topic with anyone. People here are a little hot headed (and I include myself in this description!). A lot has changed recently, but to me, the UK is still an example of an inclusive and open-minded society.

Ah yes I can definitely understand what you mean. No pressure but, where do you hope to be in 10 years’ time?

Haha either interpreting for NATO or running a bed and breakfast in Brittany... we shall see!

Finally for a fun question - what’s your favourite word in English and why?

I'd have to say "nitty gritty" because it sounds funny.

Thank you so much for this wonderful interview Lucile, Apertis Verbis wishes you the very best of luck with your interpreting career!

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