Regularly, we interview one of our members to learn more about them and to let the general public discover the interpreting profession.

Pawel Kozlowski

Pawel Kozlowski

Master of Arts in Conference Interpreting

Polish > German
German > Polish
English > Polish

Based in: Frankfurt am Main, Germany

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How did you get into interpretation?

I grew up in Silesia, a region in Poland where German, Polish and Czech language melt into a local dialect. I learned it as a kid and quickly became a sort of middleman between friends at school, who grew up with the dialect and those who only spoke Polish. After my freshman year I went to Germersheim, Germany and got a glimpse of the world-class training program for interpreters. I fell in love with the idea to study there and when I got my degree in Poland, I rejected an offer to start a PhD program at my alma mater and went all in. 

What aspect do you like most about your job?

In the world of freelancing you have to like every bit of it. And I don't expect every interpreter to like accounting or selling the service. You can always hire an expert, but you still have to own your business. What I like about the process of interpreting itself is the adrenaline shot you feel a second before you start interpreting (especially when other colleagues rely on you). And then there is the moment when – for a millisecond – you feel proud of yourself because you just landed it... 

Do you travel a lot for assignments?

Traveling is an integral part of my routine and I do travel a lot. As much as I would want to I do not work a lot in Frankfurt where I live. Even my local clients often send me to remote destinations. And because travelling has become a routine I am still in working mode when traveling to a holiday destination trying not to get late.

Can you describe your preparation for an assignment?

My pre-conference prep starts with extracting essential glossaries from the material provided as well as from the Internet. I then merge relevant glossaries and try to solidify the collected knowledge. And I have to remember to not overdo here. Time tracking helps sometimes. The aim for me is to use a set of apps on just one portable device. Many colleagues who use several devices struggle syncing data between them - I was able to get around that. And what seem to be crucial is that you have to stay on top of the news especially if you prepare for live broadcast or a press conference. It may sound odd but I like to listen to my favorite radio stations to get the latest information. Finally, one should not forget that prep also means a great deal of travel planning.

Do you use technology besides Interpreters' Help?

I am all things digital and frankly I can't imagine a life without Internet, touch screens and cloud services anymore. You may remember that already in the early days of Interpreters' Help I asked you whether you are planning an iPad app. Besides Interpreters' Help I use all kinds of intertwined apps and "webhooked" services that help me keep track of long term sales processes, enable team communication and create new ways of attracting potential clients. 

What’s your biggest success/fail in the booth?

I definitely have one crucial conf fail on my mind. This was when a friend offered me a clinical trial job on behalf of a translation agency. I did raise the question of a boothmate and she just stated: "this person has experience in the field of medicine". And this proved to be true but on the day of the conference I found myself in the booth with a Ukrainian nurse who barely spoke Polish. Fortunately the conference ended at noon. I learned my lesson and now I always want to know the name of my boothmate beforehand. As for successes - it is difficult to pick something that would sound spectacular. I remember the pressure when I first coordinated an assignment for four of my colleagues. I was alone in my office with my catastrophic thoughts waiting for a feedback and the relief that came after I received it felt like a major success.       

Do you belong to any professional association?

I am a member of several relevant associations. In the beginning of my career I did not see the added value. But working with one of the CEE languages is a constant fight against prejudice. Being a member of a professional association does not only mean professional exchange and networking possibilities. For me it is also the additional credibility on the market.

Do you have an advice for beginners?

It is always difficult to give a general advice. The thing that was bugging me in the first two years was whether my persistence is going to pay off. My piece of advice for those who love this job is: Be patient. It will take a while to get your foot in the door!

How to reach Pawel Kozlowski

You can find Pawel's contact information on his website:
or contact him directly through his public profile on Interpreters' Help

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