I first got into interpreting in my 30s. I had been teaching linguistics in London, but had the idea I wanted to work for the Commission. I came for a visit and someone suggested interpreting.
This was followed by six months of intensive training and two years of practice before the final test to qualify as an interpreter.
Interpreting is a combination of intellectual and linguistic skills. It is different from translating which deals with the written word.
It is about understanding the importance of what is being said and get a message across. One has to be fast, accurate and concise.