From Masters student to Interpreter for the QLD Premier

17 March 2017

Arisa Kajiyama graduated from a Master of Arts in Japanese Interpreting and Translation (MAJIT) in 2015. Since then she has been working as a freelance translator / interpreter. She shares with us her journey over the past two years from a master’s student to interpreting for the Premier of Queensland.


"I started working as a freelance translator during my studies and worked on translations of things such as press releases, marketing materials, internal business documents and presentations by PR professionals.

After a practice run as a volunteer interpreter on a round-the-world cruise organised by a Japanese NGO, I started my career as an interpreter. My past clients include Australian business owners and government officials.

One of my recent jobs was for the Lord Mayor of Brisbane Graham Quirk and his business delegation’s trade mission to Tokyo. I interpreted their presentations and speeches in front of audiences of up to 200 people. I also had an honour of interpreting for the Premier of Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk during her trade mission to Japan. This trade mission included a historic visit to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, where I interpreted the explanation of the exhibition by the museum director.

My knowledge of the Australia-Japan relationship gained through MAJIT has helped me greatly in these particular jobs. Most of the speeches presented by the Lord Mayor and the Premier were similar to what I had practiced in MAJIT classes so much so that I could anticipate how the sentence would end before it did. It also contributed significantly to the reduction of preparation time as I had an extensive collection of vocabulary lists and information materials I had acquired during studies at MAJIT. Efficiency in research is crucial for interpreters who are given limited time to prepare, therefore it is very helpful to have reliable study materials at hand.

While I was a MAJIT student at UQ, I was inspired by a talk given at one of the weekly MAJIT Forums by an officer working for Trade & Investment Queensland (TIQ). She talked about their role in supporting the economic relationship between Australia and Japan. Soon after finishing MAJIT, I accepted an internship at TIQ Japan Office and from January 2017, I have started working there permanently as a business development officer. This is partly because the Commissioner of Tokyo Office saw me interpreting for the Lord Mayor and the Premier and recognised my skills and potential. So, it is not too much to say that MAJIT gave me a career goal and a chance to achieve it!".