What do you want to do when you grow up?
Who was never given this essay title at school? Not only did it put your language and writing skills to the test, but you were also being encouraged to start thinking about your dreams and your unique abilities.
I was ten years old when our teacher gave us this essay for homework. I already knew what I would write about. Although I still didn’t know much about the world and its adventures, I already had clear ideas about what I wanted to do in the future: my dream was to become an interpreter in embassies abroad. My essay contained a detailed description of the personal and professional training I would need to undertake.
And have I achieved my childhood dream? Yes, to some extent, and even a few years ahead of schedule. But there are still things I want to do, paths I want to follow and goals I wish to achieve. After I’ve reached one goal, up pops another ready for me to pursue.
My name is Antonella Di Pilato
and I was born in Terlizzi, Italy, on 11 June 1983. I currently live and work in Bisceglie, Puglia. In 2006 I obtained a degree in Language Mediation, specializing in English and Spanish, from the SSML Istituto di Alti Studi Carlo Bo in Bari.
In 2008, I moved to the bustling city of Madrid to continue my studies. There I enrolled in a course at Camilo José Cela University and the Escuela Internacional de Protocolo and in 2010 I obtained my MBA-style Master’s in Protocol and External Relations for Institutional, Corporate, Cultural and International Purposes, with a research dissertation on the City of Bari’s Fiera del Levante International Fair.
I have always had a keen interest in diplomacy. The two years I spent in the Spanish capital were a wonderful adventure, important for both my personal and professional development. I furthered my knowledge of the language and got to know the culture and the people and came away with a brighter and bolder attitude to life.
However, I still had a desire to learn and specialize more, and I probably always will. So, after Madrid and my MBA, I completed my level-two Master’s degree in Specialized Translation in Spanish and English, with a research dissertation written in English on financial translation, which was published in book form in 2017.
I had already begun teaching English and translating in 2006, when in 2007 I had my first important experience as an interpreter. I think I will never forget that assignment. I had just received my bachelor’s degree and was invited to do what is known as chuchotage, or whispered interpreting, where the interpreter whispers the translation into the ear of the listener. This kind of assignment can be rather demanding and often requires two interpreters for lengthier sessions. Yet, I managed to do a full day, thankfully at a beautiful venue. What’s more, this particular assignment involved interpreting from one of my foreign languages to the other. So, I was just out of university and was translating from English to Spanish for a Spanish businessman with high expectations, which I was able to meet and even surpass.
I will always remember that adventure: the anxiety, the excitement, my fear and above all the sense of achievement. And that is how my career began as a translator, an interpreter and language consultant for business in Italian, Spanish and English.
In 2008, a year after my first interpreting assignment, I received a phone call: They’re looking for someone to work at the Italian Institute of Culture at the Italian embassy in Madrid. I thought you would be great for the position, but you need to be there in a few days. What do you think? This dream phone call came from my university.
I had long wanted to work in diplomacy and that four-month placement was just the opportunity I was looking for to grow and gain experience as a translator and simultaneous interpreter for audiences of ambassadors, consuls, diplomats, journalists and politicians. I enjoyed the experience so much that I decided to stay on a further month, during which I taught Italian to company executives.
In 2010, two years after my Madrid adventure, I was contacted by the SSML Istituto di Alti Studi Carlo Bo in Bari, where I had received my degree, offering me a position teaching Spanish. I still teach at the SSML Istituto di Alti Studi Carlo Bo and this has given me an opportunity that has both surprised and fascinated me. Because sharing your experience and knowledge with others is both extremely engaging and rewarding.
Do you need a language consultant for your business?