My Accidental Transition from Interpreting to Translating

By Molly Yurick

[Town in Asturias]

I consider myself to be quite lucky when it comes to my studies. I was born and raised in Minnesota and went to Spanish Immersion Elementary School in my hometown of Robbinsdale. My middle school classes were half in Spanish and half in English and my high school had an advanced placement Spanish class. Strangely enough, in all my studies as a language student, neither translation nor interpreting were ever mentioned as possible careers for my future. When I graduated high school, I had no specific dream job or career in mind and didn’t have any grand plan for my university studies. So, I stuck with what I knew: Spanish.

I wish someone had told me about this fascinating career when I was younger

It wasn’t until I was halfway through my double major in Spanish and Global Studies at the University of Minnesota that I found out my university offered a Certificate in Interpreting that I could easily complete alongside my degree. I discovered the program while paging through descriptions of the courses that met requirements for my degree. I couldn’t believe that my own university and professors weren’t advertising or even mentioning the program to language students. I quickly applied and got started on my certificate in my third year of college.

I wish someone had told me about this fascinating career when I was younger; this is one of the reasons why I now volunteer for the ATA School Outreach Program, where we work to raise awareness about the T&I professions in schools across the world. Learn more about how you can help our cause here:

The Certificate in Interpreting program has two branches: medical or legal. I opted for medical—mostly because I just couldn’t picture myself working in a courtroom. My senior year of college, I started to work part time as a freelance medical and social work interpreter for an agency in the Twin Cities and immediately loved it. I always tell people that in just a few years of part time interpreting, I racked up enough stories to last a lifetime. It was an honor to work alongside nurses and doctors to deliver a baby. It was devastating to deliver the news of cancer diagnosis. And it was fascinating to watch and assist a man in recovering his ability to speak after a stroke. There really aren’t enough adjectives to describe the emotions that come along with sharing all these happy and tough times with patients, but they’re all intense experiences I will never forget and that have left a real impact on my life.

Strangely enough, in all my studies as a language student, neither translation nor interpreting were ever mentioned as possible careers for my future

But, as much as I loved interpreting in Minnesota and had a very high level of Spanish, I wanted to spend some time living in a Spanish-speaking country to take my language skills to the next level. I moved to Spain in 2009 to work as a cultural ambassador for the Spanish Ministry of Education and would work as an interpreter only when on vacation or visiting Minnesota over the summer and Christmas holidays. I briefly looked for interpreting work in Spain but stopped when I found most demand was in court and conference settings.

In 2011, I was looking for a part-time job and a change and started to play around with the idea of translating after getting a translation request from a family friend. One of the required courses for my Certificate in Interpreting was a class called “Introduction to Translation,” so I had a bit of practice and theory under my belt. I started by revisiting my translation textbook from college and began by practicing on my own. When I felt confident in my skills, I started applying to agencies and getting some paid work. I worked part time as a translator for almost three years with financial support from my job at the Ministry of Education before going full time.

What really helped me kick start my career in translation was Corinne McKay’s course, “Getting Started as a Freelance Translator.” I took a few weeks away from translation work and focused 100% of my energy on following every single tip and suggestion from Corinne. I built my translation-specific résumé and website, had a logo and business cards designed and made a real marketing plan to work on over the next year. I haven’t looked back since. I now work as a full-time Spanish to English translator specializing in the tourism, hospitality and airline industries. And, I still live in Spain. If I ever move back to the States one day, I plan to bring interpreting back into my life and combine it with my translation work.


[Molly Yurick]Molly Yurick is a Spanish to English translator specialized in the tourism, hospitality and airline industries. In the past she has worked as a medical interpreter in Minnesota and as a cultural ambassador for the Ministry of Education in Spain. She has a B.A. in Spanish and Global Studies and a Certificate in Medical Interpreting from the University of Minnesota. She is currently living in northern Spain. You can visit her website at:




image of a town in Asturias, Spain by susobande via

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