Name Surname: Maite Sorolla
City: Viena (Austria)
Sector: Services and Education
Position: Freelance Translator and Interpreter
I am a freelance conference interpreter and translator. I chose this profession because I was always curious to know other places and other cultures. Actually, what I would really like to study is classical philology and anthropology. The anthropology career I have been able to study combining it with work, the first one I still have it pending.
When I was 18 years old, I got a scholarship from ONCE (National Association of Blind People) to study in the United States during a school year. After that experience, I applied for another scholarship to study abroad. I went to Slovakia where I stayed for 6 years and where I studied Translation and Interpreting. I graduated just the year that this country was entering the EU, so I took advantage of the opportunity and applied to the accreditation tests to work as an interpreter of English, French and Slovak in Brussels. I passed the exam and later I did some entrance exams to consolidate the working place. Over time I was able to add Czech and German to my working languages.
I have been living in Brussels for 8 years. In 2012, after the birth of my first daughter, I moved to Vienna where I have been working for almost 5 years as a freelance worker for the private market and for International Organizations (the United Nations headquarters is in this city). I also teach consecutive, simultaneous and conference interpreting classes at the University of Vienna. At the moment I plan to continue living in Vienna still for a little more time, since this city has a great quality of life, especially for families with small children.
I would like to do a PhD and study classical philology; although I think I will have to wait until my daughters are something older.
First of all, I am aware that if I had not had the financial help that ONCE provided me at the time, I would not have been able to study abroad. And therefore, my professional career would have been another; the economic factor has been very important to develop my professional career.
Although when I was younger I thought that, many of the obstacles I encountered were due to my disability, over time I have realized that being a woman is still the biggest factor of discrimination when it comes to growing professionally. When I was 24 years old I was living in New Delhi for five months and I found out that the risks to the safety of a woman not accompanied by a man lead you to be more cautious, and therefore you learn not to make decisions that may carry risks. Now that I have two small daughters, I am not expected to develop a professional career, but to dedicate myself to them completely. No one expected me to become a mother because I had a disability; even now that I am a mother, there are persons who think that my partner is who takes care of everything, since I have not stopped working.
As for my family, I have to say that the thing what helped me the most was that they let me do things, that they did not overprotect me. Sometimes I would have appreciated a little more interest from my parents, but they became parents at a late age and they did not have so much energy; for that reason, I had to face it alone. Over time, I have appreciated to solve things on my own; I've learned this after making mistakes so many times.
I have been fortunate to meet people who have guided me. In my adolescence and during my university studies there were people who supported me and encouraged me to move forward. I am very grateful to them.
The little experience that I have in mentoring, coaching or jobshadowing has been giving classes to future interpreters in the University. I usually talk to them about the profession since it is something that interests them enough because they are studding in the last courses.
I try to be realistic with the result of my work and I try to draw conclusions that will help me improve in future projects. Among the qualities that are mentioned (Active, Ambitious, Persistent, Optimistic and Creative... among others) there are some qualities that I have developed over time, such as organization, analysis and perseverance. Although I like to work independently and prefer to do it without having to agree with other people, I have developed the ability to work as a team and communicate effectively with third parties. Also, I do not hesitate to ask for advice when I consider it necessary.
In any case, I like to be able to take time to analyze a situation and thus, make an appropriate decision. I have realized that in the moment you have to act quickly, it also helps to be able to calculate the time you have and know how to use it well so as not to rush. It is true that I adapt easily to changes and that it is very important for me to develop personally through my work.
In my teens, when I was studying at the Institute, I had a couple of professors that I could always count on to make decisions about my studies. During my university studies I had an interpretation teacher whom I greatly admired and who guided me when presenting myself to the accreditation exams in Brussels. In Brussels we were colleagues and she has always been an example of a professional person for me. While I was studying, I worked a couple of months in a labor services consultancy for people with disabilities. There I had a boss from whom I also learned a lot because of her excellent qualities, as a professional and as a person.
What advice could I give you? Well, be realistic. When you design a professional project, think about what cards you have. Be critical of yourself but without demotivating yourself. Have a plan B, a plan C and a plan D, and still think that as much as you plan everything, things can change from one day to another.
Be aware that you have a double discrimination, because you are a woman and because you also have a disability, but act as if they did not exist. If someone proposes you a project for which you are qualified, go ahead with it. Nobody dares to say no if you later get in a wheelchair, or realize that you do not see well, or are blind, or whatever. If you offer good results, they will call you back. People love to feel good and believe that they are doing a good work because they have hired you. Of course, ask for the same income as a non-disabled man with the same qualification would ask for. This advice was given to me by a colleague (without disability).
To reach your challenges, I only tell you one more thing: Love yourself and take care of yourself a lot. Then people will pull on you to make you feel shit. Join with whoever provides and helps you and, when you get home at night, remember that you deserve to be loved, even if you were wrong. You will need it so much.