Some of our graduates have a special place in our hearts. Fannie St-Pierre-Tanguay is definitely one of them. She was part of the first cohort of students who graduated from the MCI in 2014 with French A and English B. In many ways, Fannie and her classmates helped build the program as surely as its faculty and administrators did.

Fannie’s trailblazing did not end when she left the MCI. She was the first of our former students to secure a staff interpreter position. We sat down with Fannie recently to hear how her career has really taken off.

Tell us something about your current job, Fannie. What’s your role? What are the rewards and challenges?

I’m a staff interpreter at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. This means I interpret the political debates in the House as well as in some committees. Most of the time, we have to interpret from English into French, but once in a while an MPP speaks in French, and we then have to interpret into English.

The main reward from my job is that I learn something new every day. Provincial politics touches so many aspects of our daily lives, so the topics are infinitely varied. Also, it’s an honour to witness how the laws that govern us take shape. The challenges of this job include the speed and the density of speeches. Everyone has something to say, and they want to say as much as possible in the little time they are given!

How has the MCI helped you in your career development?

I would not be where I am now without the MCI. Obviously, every work environment has its own particularities and you learn a lot on the job. However, the MCI has provided me with a solid foundation in interpreting as well as the flexibility to allow me to adapt very quickly wherever I go.

I appreciate that the MCI did not train us for one specific organization or work environment, but rather gave us the tools to be able to work as an interpreter anywhere we want afterwards. That is a training philosophy with which I can identify myself, and I know it will continue to serve me well in the future.

Any advice for interpreter trainees who work between English and French? 

Regardless of the language combination, my one piece of advice is the following: make stress your friend. There will always be unknowns; there will always be fast, incomprehensible speeches. You will never be prepared enough. That is the nature of interpreting. So what do you do? I’m not going to tell you “don’t stress”. Stress is natural, and if you don’t feel it, something is wrong. But don’t let it throw you off. Use it to your advantage. Channel that energy so that it helps you perform even better.