Yiran Xu | Middlesex University London
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Yiran Xu

Yiran Xu, MA Interpreting

Managing Director, Translocal

MA Interpreting, 2012


What made you choose Middlesex University?

Firstly, I liked the fact that Middlesex University could offer experienced and professional teaching staff. I was also attracted by the location as London is one of the most international and dynamic cities in the world.

What attracted you to your course and made you apply?

Language is my passion. In China I studied English so I wanted to continue my English studies and I felt that the MA Interpreting programme would equip me well for a career as a professional interpreter.

What aspects of your course did you enjoy most?

I really enjoyed the practical elements of the course, for example, practising interpreting in the booth and presentation skills training. I still find these things useful today.

What is your fondest memory of life at Middlesex?

Taking lovely 10-minute breaks in the warm sunshine on winter days after intensive interpreting training sessions! The University really provides a quiet and lovely environment, where you can focus on your study and enjoy just being a student.

What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying at Middlesex?

Really engage with the student experience. You will be part of a diverse and active community and have the opportunity to work with diverse student and staff bodies. Make sure you enjoy and benefit from the intellectual environment at Middlesex.

London has a lot going on and the university is well located for students to take advantage of all the city has to offer. Make sure you make the most of your time in London while you are at the University.

How did your course and time at Middlesex help you to get where you are professionally today?

The course equipped me to become a professional linguist by providing me with the relevant knowledge and helping me develop the necessary skill set. It also provided me with insight into the European translation market and its standards, which are different to those in China.

The experience of studying in a foreign country also helped me to become more independent and find out more about myself. I learnt to adapt to a different culture.

Why did you choose the career you studied for?

When choosing my course, I just chose something I was interested in and which was consistent with my previous study experience. I also felt there was a great market demand for interpreters.

What I have found most valuable since completing my course are the many skills I developed while on the course. These include interpersonal skills, presentation skills, the importance of a 'can-do' attitude, taking on responsibility, etc.

I apply all of the skills I learnt then, today and will continue to use these in the future.

What are the pros and cons of working within your professional field?

The pros are that you are always learning, can earn a good income and have the opportunity to meet different people and travel. It is really good fun being bilingual!

The cons are that it can sometimes be stressful, it's a competitive market and it can at times be lonely because being bilingual means you operate with 'two minds', meaning you often see many things differently which can be hard to explain to people.

How did you get your foot on the career ladder post university?

I started my business not long after graduation. It was a risky move but I have learnt a lot from the whole process. I have to look after sales, marketing, translation, interpreting, project management and even book-keeping - all by myself.

There is a lot of learning involved in order to succeed in what I do, but I think starting my own business was a good choice for me.

What has been your defining career break or highlight to date?

My defining career break has been developing relationships with a few stable and repeat clients, as well as learning to feel comfortable dealing with all kinds of translation projects. I have been lucky enough to work with some of the world's top translation agencies and be involved in a range of projects in different areas, which I think has laid a good foundation for my future career.

What does the future hold for you?

The future is unknown but I am positive about it. It is important to make a plan and have a vision about the future but more importantly, you need to find out who you are and what you are good at. It all comes from experience. I believe the ideal job is where your personality meets your talent. So if one day I find I am better suited to another role, I will make a positive move to change where I am.

What are the top three career tips you would give to current students and recent graduates?

Start looking for jobs early. In university you will have plenty spare time to do what you like such as attending parties, group trips, etc. Those things are important and it makes your study experience more colourful but you also need to start looking for jobs while at university. This will help you to get familiar with what employers require. Even going for interviews itself can be good practice. If you do get a part-time job, it will not only give you some pocket money but enable you to come into contact with a range of people.

Don't miss any internships or training opportunities. Obviously they provide opportunities for you to improve your professional skills but sometimes they offer many more unseen benefits. Who knows that you won't be hired after an internship or that certain connections you make won't lead to a promotion or career opportunity a few years later?

Be proactive. Make sure you have researched your chosen career properly and seek help when writing your CV. It's also important to attend networking events and to reach out directly to companies you are interested in working for. You won't get a job by sitting in front of the computer. Stop thinking, start doing!

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