Logo for CIT 2020 Conference - Transforming Interpreter Education

It’s More Than Just “Hands Up” Time: Creating an Intention Driven Internship

by Jules Lehto, Jenee Petri-Swanson, Taylor Gjesdahl & John Wilson

Interactive Workshop

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It is recognized in many fields that there are gaps between education and work-readiness; the interpreting field is no exception. For this reason, the internship experience is a valuable opportunity. How do we ensure that the internship experience we offer aligns with our intentions? In the role of mentor, interpreters are responsible for assessing students’ needs while being aware of current best practices and standards in the field. Yet many interpreters receive little training before becoming a mentor. As a student approaching graduation, how does one develop the knowledge needed to succeed as a professional? The intention for all is to advance the interpreting profession and our own skills and knowledge. Given the variety of resources we have as practitioners, how do we ensure that the internship experience we offer aligns with these intentions?

The internship of the past is quickly becoming an anachronism. How do we balance respecting a Deaf person’s right to a qualified interpreter with a student’s need to develop and the educator’s need to provide a place for interns to develop their craft? The presenters will share their experiences developing an internship experience which continues to evolve. A former University of Minnesota intern and a Deaf student who worked with interns, both now working professionals, will join this discussion. This workshop will allow participants to understand why and how an internship site can evolve, will ask them to consider their own work with those attending or providing internships, consider the impact to Deaf individuals using interns, identify intentions for internship placement/provision, and allow participants to begin to develop a plan to support their intentions.

During the session, attendees will be asked to share what’s worked for them and resources they have used with interns. We will invite interpreter participants to reflect on their work site and think intentionally about what they would like to offer interns. Students will be encouraged to discuss their goals and needs in an internship. Those representing interpreter education programs can offer research they have on what effective internships include and non-traditional experiences that host sites can consider. After discussion in both small and large groups, everyone will leave with at least three intentions for internship and an action plan for each intention.

This workshop will provide time and space for interpreter education programs, internship host sites, mentors, and interns to be intentional in transforming their internship experience.

Everyone is welcome to participate in this workshop: interpreter educators, administrators, mentors, interpreters, interns, interpreting students, and host site administrators. Attendees will look at the internship experience from the perspectives of mentors, students, and consumers. The presenters firmly believe we can learn from each other regardless of the role we have in internship and that this discussion applies to all who participate in interpreter mentorship.

Participants will:

  • Share intern/internship experiences so their perspectives can inform future internship planning.
  • Identify/list their 3 top intentions for internship (hosting, assigning, or attending) and develop a plan to support those intentions.
  • Identify/list at least one new action step for each of their three intentions to apply to the internship experience.

A white woman with blond hair and brown section in the middle of bangs wearing a grey cardigan sweater smiles at camera in front of bushes outsideJules Lehto, NIC, has been an active member of the interpreting field since 1998, specializing in post-secondary and performing arts interpretation. Since 2002, she has worked as a member of the University of Minnesota Disability Resource Center’s Interpreting/Captioning Unit staff. She has been a part of the internship provision at the U since day one and looks forward each year to the energy, enthusiasm, and inquiring mindset students bring. Jules has a passion for collaboration, learning new strategies and techniques, and focusing on ways to improve her skills as both an interpreter and mentor. She believes that it doesn’t matter where you are, you can always find something new to learn.

A white woman with blonde ear-length hair wearing a blue blazer smiles while standing outside in front of a willow treeJenee Petri-Swanson, NIC, is a Minnesota native, hearing interpreter who has been in the field since 2003. Education and equity are driving forces in her life. Working to create inclusive and equitable spaces has meant opening herself up to learn and grow from everyone around her, including those she has mentored – while always centering Deaf perspectives. We have a collective responsibility to grow one another and advance our field to mitigate marginalization and increase access. Working with interns has provided Jenee with many rich opportunities to do that, and she is delighted to reflect on cultivating intentional internship experiences with you today.

A white woman with blond shoulder length hair smiles at camera in front of grey backdropTaylor Gjesdahl, BEI/NIC, recently joined the field in 2015. Prior to graduation from an Interpreter Training Program she was selected to be part of the internship program at the University of Minnesota’s Interpreting and Captioning Unit. After graduation, Taylor remained in contact with her mentors and was even able to return to the University as a staff interpreter. The skills she learned during internship she now applies to her work in the community as a freelance interpreter. She is honored to partner with the University once again to share how the internship program’s approach and methodology is truly top tier.

John Wilson has been working with interpreters since pre-kindergarten. Born deaf, and having received a cochlear implant at age 4, he was mainstreamed with interpreters throughout grade school and high school. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Sociology. Currently, he works at Target HQ with the Digital Guest Support Services department. During college, he worked with multiple interns through the UMN internship program. When it comes to working with interns, it is his strong belief that deaf consumers should be an integral part of the internship learning experience. ASL interpreters learn best not only from experienced interpreters but from experienced consumers as well. When he’s not working, he can be found volunteering with the Minnesota Deaf Queers group, in the kitchen cooking or dog-sitting for friends.