Since 2011, Found in Translation has provided low-income bilingual women with the opportunity to achieve economic security through careers as medical interpreters, thereby reducing racial, ethnic and linguistic disparities in healthcare in the Boston area. Over the years, our programming has continually evolved to meet the diverse needs of our alumnae and our greater community. The COVID-19 pandemic in particular has driven many exciting changes for us, and as we continue to move forward with our new program model in 2022, we felt that it was time for us to review and update our application process to reflect the new realities we are seeing in workforce development, the interpreting profession, and the job market. In this post we will explain each of these changes and the philosophy behind our decisions. For any additional clarity, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the past ten years, Found in Translation has held one class each year with students selected in one application cycle. Due to the high demand of our program, this has historically been a very competitive process, wherein we would select ~35 students from hundreds of worthy candidates. During the review of our application process this year, we have come to an agreement that our former approach was not as transparent or equitable for our applicants as it should be. The process was very lengthy and asked much of applicants, and because it only took place once per year, quality applicants who were not selected were forced to wait a full year to try again.
Moving forward, we are changing our application from a deadline-driven, once-per-year model to one that is rolling throughout the year. Doing so will allow us to accept and review applications on a continual basis, and not just all at once. Our goal is for this change to shift our selection process from centering competitiveness, to creating space for holistic assessments of each applicant individually. This means that with these changes, we will not compare applicants to each other, making final selections based on any particular factor or perceived “competitive advantage.” Rather, we will review applicants holistically and decide who is a good fit for the program versus who is not.
Selecting for Two Classes
Another benefit of moving to a rolling application model is that it is better suited to our goals of running two classes each year. In 2022, we plan to hold a Spring class as well as a Fall class, and select for both trainings using one application process. (See our Application page for details.) In our application we will ask applicants to specify preferences for which class they would like to attend. Once our application is open, we will guarantee review of the first 100 applications with stated preference for participation in our spring cycle. After that, all additional applications received will be held for consideration for our fall cycle. As a result, there is no deadline like in previous years, and so we encourage interested applicants to submit their applications as soon as possible if they would like to be considered for the Spring 2022 training.
This new rolling approach means more visibility for future application cycles, and it will allow for applicants not selected in one cycle to be waitlisted and considered for the next cycle without having to submit a new application. As our Spring Class of 2022 is set to begin in mid-February, our goal is that our selection process for this class will take no more than a month and a half from application to final decision, a faster turnaround compared to previous years.
Changes in Program Eligibility Requirements – Household Income
Found in Translation’s core mission is to provide economic opportunity through our medical interpreter training to women who would otherwise not be able to access it due to the financial barriers of living in a low-income household. Eligibility for our program has always been tied to the most recent HUD Guidelines for the Boston area that categorize “Low Income” status based on annual household income. These guidelines are updated every year to match socio-economic changes in the population of greater Boston. As anyone who lives in Boston can testify, this metro area grows increasingly more expensive to live in each year. As a result, the income limit that categorizes a household as “low income” has increased.
In order to stay aligned with our values and mission to serve those with the highest economic need, we have decided to lower our top limit for household income eligibility to match with the “Very Low” category put forward by the 2021 HUD guidelines. (For example, for a household of 1, this is $47,000/year. For a household of 4, this is $67,100/year.) As before, this eligibility is based on combined household income, regardless of whether the applicant herself is employed. To be eligible for our program, the applicant’s annual household income must be at or below the amounts listed on our Application page.
Changes in Program Eligibility Requirements – Individual Income
While historically our income eligibility has been entirely driven by household income, in 2022 we will be adding a new requirement for individual (applicant) income as part of our eligibility criteria. The following criteria will be applied for any applicant who is employed/earning an income at the time of application*.
- If the applicant is a worker that receives a W2, her hourly rate should not be greater than $18 per hour. Exceptions can be made for applicants who are working part-time jobs (ex. working fewer than 40 hours and/or do not receive benefits).
- If an applicant is employed as a freelance worker/contractor and receives 1099, her hourly rate for this work should not be greater than $22/hr.
- Please contact us at email@example.com for additional clarity, as we recognize that there will always be circumstances where these guidelines may not apply.
Over the past decade, Found in Translation has monitored trends in the interpreting industry, seeking to select and train those women for whom an interpreting career would make a significant economic impact. Data provided by our alumnae suggests that unfortunately, interpreter wages are not rising at the same rate as minimum wage increases in Massachusetts. There are many reasons why this could be happening, including the rise of remote interpreting, and changes in interpreter status from contractors to employees. As a result, we see that the economic impact of working as an interpreter at a contractual rate of $25/hr without a guarantee of 40 hour work week is not as significant for someone previously employed at $19/hr in a stable full time job with benefits. Because of this, we have added the above wage-specific criteria to assist in ensuring that our program (and a career as a medical interpreter) continues to generate a significant economic impact for our participants. Separately, we have additional plans to further develop the capacity of our organization and alumnae in field-building and advocacy efforts, including wage-advocacy.
*This criteria does not apply to applicants who are unemployed at the time of application.
Changes to the Application – Demographics Questions
As part of our ongoing efforts to reduce disparities and promote equity and social justice, we have added additional questions to the application about race, ethnicity, disability, and sexual orientation. These questions are not required, and the applicant can opt-out of answering them, however if the applicant believes that any of these aspects of their identity is important for us to take into consideration, there is an option to indicate that. Our goal with collecting this data is to better understand (and thus better serve) our diverse community. We would also like to reiterate that transgender women are women and we strongly encourage them to apply.
Changes to the Application – Essays and Employment Information
Lastly, we have observed that our old application was long and required a significant amount of time to complete. In order to be more mindful of this, we have made several changes to the application with the goal of making it more time-efficient to complete and review.
Our new application includes just one essay, not four separate ones. We hope applicants will approach this essay question as a kind of cover letter designed to help our staff familiarize themselves with the applicant as a person, and to understand the motivation behind their desire to join the program and the Found in Translation community. The essay question can be found on our Application page.
In our new application we have also changed the employment section to only request information about the applicant’s current jobs (if they are currently employed), instead of their entire work history. However, in case the applicant would like us to review their work history, we have added an option of uploading a resume in the application.
We are very excited about all of these changes and updates to our process, which have been carefully considered by our team over the course of many months. We are planning on opening our application in the last week of November. Please stay tuned for our official announcement on our website and social media. In the meantime, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about these changes. We will do our best to get back to you, and will update this post and our Application page with additional info as it becomes available.
The Found in Translation Team