Making your first contract stress free

Insider tips for interpreters working their first day for an international organisation.

The basics

Make sure you have the following:

  • Contract
  • Photo ID
  • Any other documents sent to you beforehand.

Before you leave

  • Consult relevant Conventions and Agreements governing the terms and conditions of employment.
  • Find out what agreements cover sickness insurance and Code of Good Practice at the organisation you will be working for.

Finding your way, your programme, your booth, the documents, etc….

It’s a good idea to arrive a day early if:

  • You don’t know the town,
  • Or where the meeting venues are,
  • Or your accommodation and travelling time to work
  • And you still have to sort out some of the paperwork.

You can use your time to:

  • introduce yourself (to the recruitment office, head of your booth or chief interpreter),
  • crack the code of the programme (the acronyms denoting meeting rooms, the language combination of each meeting, and where you can find relays and retours),
  • find out about changes to the programme and how you are informed (by phoning in, over the internet, or on the notice board) and get all the important phone numbers for the office and your colleagues,
  • find the document distribution centre,
  • learn the names and abbreviations of the organisation, what its various bodies do and what their powers are,
  • go into a booth, check the consoles, see where the delegations sit, learn how to get to the other booths, to where the technician is,
  • locate toilets, public areas, cafeterias, rest rooms, computers, post office, newspaper kiosk, ATMs, travel agency, etc.

Formalities - The rules and regulations of International Organisations

Each International Organisation has its own operating and financial regulations as well as administrative and painstaking security procedures. Some organisations arrange for newcomers to be given a brief introduction to the premises and the in-house jargon; they realise your first day can be rather daunting.

You may have to visit several offices and would in many cases be well advised to book an appointment for some of the following:

  • signing your contract,
  • getting a staff card/building pass,
  • consulting your work schedule,
  • finding the names and location of the meeting rooms,
  • getting a password for internet access,
  • obtaining access to terminologies and data bases,
  • completing forms for travel claims and payment of fee, contributions to your provident/sickness insurance/pension fund, so take your banking details with you.

And, as we’ve all learned from experience, when away from home, bring: passport, local currency, universal plug adaptor and binoculars.

Attention paid to these details beforehand will leave you free to concentrate on your work the day of your assignment. Good luck.


Recommended citation format:
VEGA Network. "Making your first contract stress free". July 11, 2002. Accessed July 7, 2020. <>.

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Chi-Cuong Michel TRAN


Model contract

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heureuse de voir l'organisation des "premiers contrats" prendre forme.

Merci de l'effort et de la clarté.

Les organisations famille ONU en Suisse bien que moins étoffées sont prêtes: OMPI, CERN, UIT, UPU, etc.

Nous attendons toujours de nombreuses autres.

Merci encore


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