contributed by LUNA 2017 Summer Interns, Isaiah Curtis and Sam Goldfarb
Having the opportunity to shadow José Herrera and Maria Rangel, two of LUNA’s seasoned language coordinators, was both an enriching and enjoyable experience. Spending time with them really opened our eyes to the various things going on behind the scenes before an interpreter actually walks into an appointment.
We were really struck by how many different tasks language coordinators juggle at once. It’s a constant balancing act between fielding emails, answering calls (on multiple telephones), texting and communicating with interpreters, inputting appointment information into LUNA’s systems, orchestrating last-minute consultations, and coping with unexpected cancellations.
It was really interesting to see how different language coordinators have different styles and responsibilities. For example, Maria handles the majority of the Spanish interpreting appointments, while José is generally in charge of responding to emails. All coordinators share the responsibility of answering phone calls. Maria keeps a notebook to balance out appointments among the different Spanish interpreters; José often relies on his memory and takes advantage of his familiarity with the interpreters in terms of their locations and availability.
This experience made us wonder: what types of skills and talents does it take to be a successful language coordinator? We found it is crucial to have an array of time management and organizational skills. One must also be skilled in multitasking, highly focused, and resourceful. Language coordinators also have to be professional and personable. They need to be familiar with all interpreters in terms of their language pairs, schedule availability, skill levels, and locations. And, very importantly, they must be able to perform under stress.
Shadowing the coordinators taught us about how LUNA’s scheduling system works too. We gained valuable insight into the entire process – from receiving a call or e-mail from a client to entering their information into the system to contacting interpreters and so on. We learned about how the coordinators’ schedules alternate each week between five 8-hour days and four 10-hour days and how there are day and night/weekend shifts.
We found one of the most surprising things to be that, in the event of a last minute cancellation when no other interpreter can be found, the coordinators often go out into the field and interpret for these appointments. For example, Andy Phan, LUNA Language Coordinator and Vietnamese Interpreter, was called out of the office today to do just that. We see this as an example of how LUNA truly does Go. Beyond.
We look forward to future occasions where we will be able to shadow other members of LUNA’s staff. It is a pleasure and a privilege to have these opportunities to observe the inner workings of this unique company.
For more information on LUNA’s on-site and telephone interpreting services, click here.