NAJIT Scholar Program – May 19-21, 2017

Posted with NAJIT’s permission

NAJIT logoOur team at The Savvy Newcomer caught wind of a great opportunity for students and recent graduates – check out the information below to learn more!

What is the NAJIT Scholar Program?

The Scholars program of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT) selects up to five scholars currently enrolled in or who have graduated from translation and interpretation programs in North America in 2016 and 2017 to attend NAJIT’s 38th Annual Educational Conference. The Conference will be held from May 19-21, 2017. Full details can be found on the main conference page.

Who is eligible to apply?

Spoken Language or Visual Language (American Sign Language) Translating or Interpreting (T&I) students and 2016 graduates of a T&I program from an academic institution may apply for one of the 2017 NAJIT Scholars Awards.  There is no limit to the number of applications any given T&I Program may submit for consideration. Previous recipients of this Scholarship are not eligible to reapply. Active members of NAJIT are not eligible to apply for this Award unless they can verify their T&I student status.

What do I receive with the NAJIT Scholar Award?

Each successful applicant under this program, the 2017 “NAJIT Scholar Award,” shall receive the following:

  • Complimentary registration for NAJIT’s 38th Annual Educational Conference
  • A stipend of $500 (in the form of a check to be presented at the conference) to help the NAJIT Scholars meet lodging or travel expenses, or to be used any way the Scholar deems fit
  • Complimentary registration for one full day pre-conference workshop or two half-day pre-conference workshops
  • Complimentary student membership in NAJIT for one full year, including a one-year subscription to NAJIT’s publication, Proteus

Note: Transportation, lodging arrangements, and costs associated with travel are the sole responsibility of the NAJIT Scholar. The NAJIT Scholar will need to cover three nights in the conference hotel. A discounted hotel rate is available for reservations made prior to April 17th, 2017 (Make your reservation early as space is limited). NAJIT will assist the Scholars in making roommate arrangements if possible, but cannot guarantee that a suitable roommate will be available. Conference events that are included in the NAJIT Scholars Award are: the Friday evening Scholars’ Reception, continental breakfasts on Saturday/Sunday, the Saturday group luncheon for the Annual Business Meeting, and the Saturday evening reception.

In the event a Scholar is unable to attend the conference and utilize NAJIT’s Scholarship, the $500 stipend shall be forfeited. The registration fees waived under the scholarship have no cash value.

Scholarship applications must be submitted by March 13, 2017.

Questions? Email Susan Cruz at mailto:admin@najit.org

The Chair of the NAJIT Board of Directors will notify all Scholarship Recipients of the results immediately after the judges’ decision. No later than March 27, 2017.

Please review the full 2017 NAJIT Scholar Program Policies and Procedures for complete details. See more info at: https://najit.org/conference-scholar-program/

A Translator’s Grown-Up Christmas List

A Translator’s Grown-Up Christmas ListAh, the age-old question: what do you get the translator or interpreter who has everything?

If your December is anything like mine, throughout the month your family will try to subtly (or not-so-subtly) ask you for gift ideas, and you’ll try to come up with a better response than “extra hours in the day” or “a nap”. This year, we at The Savvy Newcomer are here to help. It’s not too late to get in your last-minute wish list for the holidays, and there is surely something on our list that you’ve been wishing for this year, whether you realized it or not.

One thing to keep in mind as you share gift ideas with your loved ones is that many business-related expenses are tax-deductible. Before you put a big-ticket item on your wish list to be purchased by someone else, consult your accountant and think about whether you will be able to deduct the expense on your taxes or whether you may be better off spending it on the company credit card to earn rewards points. On the other hand, the nice thing about gifts is that they’re free – so maybe it’s worth foregoing the tax deduction anyway!

Without further ado, here are some ideas to help you make the most of holiday gift-giving time and perhaps give you an idea for the translator or interpreter on your shopping list. Readers, we would love to hear your ideas as well; leave us a comment and let us know what you’re looking to give and receive for the holidays!

Technology

Tablet: The Amazon Kindle Fire was on sale on Black Friday for about $35; prices are a little higher now but still pretty reasonable. Tablets can help you keep connected while working at home, allowing you to carry your work throughout the house. Also great for working while traveling.

Echo Dot: The Echo Dot is a surprisingly affordable “smart home” product from Amazon. You can keep one or several in your house and use the voice-activated “Alexa” to connect to your cloud and perform a variety of functions, such as telling you the weather, reading off your calendar events, and so forth. Went on sale for $40 apiece on Black Friday and are around $50 each now.

Power bank: The battery life on my Galaxy S4 is not what it used to be, so I always keep power banks in strategic places so that I’m never left without a way to charge my phone – my desk, my car, and my purse. Power banks are a good gift for anyone who is on-the-go and can’t always connect to an outlet. You can get cheap ones at most electronics stores or even order a few with your logo on them – a great form of advertising that you can give to family, friends, clients, and potential clients to surreptitiously get your brand out there.

Personal power supply: A step up from a power bank, PPS’s such as the one at this link are good to keep in cars (great for interpreters who are traveling to many different locations). This one will charge via USB, has a flashlight, can charge certain types of laptops, and can even jump start a car! I didn’t know this product existed until a few years ago when my father-in-law got us one for Christmas, and it’s wonderful to have peace of mind knowing I’ve always got one in my car.

Scanner/printer/copier: Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a printer that works 100% properly, 100% of the time… anyone? A nice, high-functioning wireless printer can mean the difference between spending four hours of your workday on the phone with tech support or spending four hours of your day doing paid work. Enough said!

Digital Gifts

Invoicing software: A nice way to streamline your accounting procedures; perhaps you’re working with spreadsheets now and haven’t made the upgrade, or you’re using the lower-priced version of some software and know you would enjoy the functionality of the premium version. Examples include Xero and QuickBooks.

Extra storage space: I am chronically short on space for Dropbox and Norton Remote Data Backup. Most cloud storage services offer an upgrade option for a slightly higher price. Or splurge on your own personal cloud with an NAS system. This gives you access to wireless backup and secure storage that doesn’t leave your own home network. A nice touch if you have clients with NDAs containing strict data security provisions. Some contracts even prohibit you from storing the client’s data in the cloud (i.e. Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive etc.).

SDL apps: Did you know that Trados has an App Store? Many of the apps are free but others aren’t; this could be one that you’ve exhausted the free trial for, or one that you’ve always wanted to try. Other CAT tools may have paid apps, but I’m not familiar with them.

Memberships: Many membership dues may be tax-deductible, but sometimes it’s hard to justify spending the money. Some memberships that would be nice holiday gifts include dues to work at a coworking office, ATA membership, your local translation/interpreting association, a local chamber of commerce, or Payment Practices.

Office Supplies

Ergonomic mouse and keyboard: Carpal tunnel is no joke. Ergonomic mice and keyboards can help with or help prevent wrist, hand, and arm pain caused by prolonged amounts of time clicking your mouse and typing at your keyboard. The shape and position of some ergonomic keyboards can even be adjusted to suit the exact position that is most natural and comfortable for your hands. I have my eyes on the Microsoft 4000.

My Savvy teammate David has sworn by the TypeMatrix 2030 with a Colemak skin for years. You can choose skins with different keyboard layouts, including ones localized for different languages. David used the HandShoe Mouse for years before switching to a Contour RollerMouse Red in 2015. Trackball mice such as the Logitech M570 are also an affordable way to relieve the strain on your shoulders and arms a bit, since you can move the cursor on the screen with just one finger.

Office heater/fan: Depending on where you live, it might be counterproductive to heat or cool your whole house all day when you’re the only person there. When the weather isn’t too extreme and I’m not planning on leaving my office for the day, I often turn down the heat in the house, turn on the space heater under my desk, and close the office door so I can stay warm without it costing me a fortune.

Roost: This laptop stand that a colleague recently told me about can help relieve back and neck strain by lifting your laptop to the proper height so you don’t have to slouch. It’s collapsible and very portable; good for frequent travelers.

Slidenjoy: This one is pretty cool. Slidenjoy is a startup company with the brilliant idea to add additional screens to your existing laptop. It isn’t cheap, and involves sending your laptop to the company so they can custom-fit your device to the new screens and ensure that everything is in working order. Then you can use the screens as additional monitors, turn them around to share your screen with others around you, and collapse them for travel and storage.

Spontaneous Pop-Up Display: This could be really cool for translators and interpreters on the go. It isn’t available yet, but can be pre-ordered through Kickstarter for expected delivery in June 2017. The only catch is the poor resolution at 720p…

Handibot: An interpreter’s “office” is often very different from that of a translator – for those of you who have to drive often and navigate with your phone to get places, Handibot is a good hands-free way to view your phone while you navigate, without taking your eyes off the road. Looks like the Walmart link no longer sells these online but there are surely other similar options available.

Work-Life Balance

Books: We’re language professionals; of course books are going to be on our wish lists! Some ideas include books from this list, translated works in your language pair, and target language books related to your specialization.

Massage: Sitting at a computer or working the interpreting circuit can take its toll on you. Working out the knots in a complex source text often creates knots for you as well! A massage can be a great stress reliever for the over-worked translator.

Fitness tracker: My colleague David just bought one of these on Black Friday and is loving it. It’s great for translators because you can set an idle alert: if you haven’t moved for a certain number of minutes, the watch vibrates and reminds you to stand up and stretch.

Pet: This is not a joke! One of the things we miss out on the most by working from home is companionship. I’m not ashamed to admit that I sometimes talk to my cat throughout the day, and often ask her for business advice. She has yet to respond with anything of value. Check with the recipient first to make sure it’s something they want and can afford, but even a guinea pig or bird can bring enrichment to the freelancer’s long and lonely day.

Workout classes: A great way to get out of the house, stretch a bit, and interact with other human beings. Disclaimer: husbands, purchasing this gift for your wives unsolicited may send the wrong message. Tread with caution.

Branded gear: One of my favorite gifts my husband has ever given me was a t-shirt with my company logo on it. He surprised me with it after an ATA conference one year and it was a great reminder that my significant other supported me and was proud of me! I liked it so much that I got one for him, too. Many different online and brick-and-mortar companies offer personalized products: Vistaprint, 4imprint, Promotions Now.

Readers, we’d love to hear your ideas as well, and go ahead and send this link to your family so they don’t have to resort to gifting you socks and gift cards for yet another year!

 Header image credit: Pixabay

ATA Conference Recap

By Jamie HartzATA 57th Annual Conference

It’s been just over two weeks since the 57th Annual American Translators Association Conference ended, and we’re excited to report that it was, once again, a blast.

This year’s highlights included Brainstorm Networking, an event where colleagues meet to discuss business practices-related scenarios in a quick but fun setting; the Job Fair, featuring a number of agencies searching for vendors as well as freelancers looking for work; and of course, Buddies Welcome Newbies.

At this year’s session, we focused on topics such as handing out business cards, choosing what sessions to go to, and conference etiquette. At the Wednesday session we also distributed a “passport” and asked Newbies to interact with as many ATA Divisions and local chapters as they could, collecting “stamps” for their passports.

For those of you who missed the Buddies Welcome Newbies introduction session or would like a copy of the presentation, see below:

Our Buddies Welcome Newbies debrief session on Saturday involved an interactive discussion of methods for following up with contacts, with great suggestions from both Newbies and Buddies alike. We’d like to thank Wordfast and Johns Benjamins Publishing Company for their contributions of prizes to the most-filled Newbie passports: a Wordfast Pro license and two translation and interpreting resource books, respectively. We appreciate your support!

Readers, did you attend the Buddies Welcome Newbies or any other great sessions this year? We’d love to hear about your experience!

Buddies Welcome Newbies at #ATA57

by Jamie Hartz

ATA 57th Annual ConferenceIf you’re a newbie to the American Translators Association, or to translation or interpreting in general, and you’re thinking of attending the ATA conference in San Francisco this November, then this post is for you – so read on!

The Savvy Newcomer Team would like to tell you about an event that was a huge success its first year and has grown by leaps and bounds since – attracting a few hundred attendees! I know, you’re thinking to yourself, “Clearly, this is the place to be!” Well, Buddies Welcome Newbies is back again this year, and here’s the scoop.

Led by Helen Eby and Jamie Hartz, with the support of lots of volunteers, this program is designed as an ice breaker for those attending the Conference for the first – or even the second – time. The ATA Annual Conference is the biggest T&I event in the US, and walking around without knowing anyone can be a bit overwhelming. Think of us as your Fairy Godmothers, who will help you to be fully prepared and make the most of your time in Miami.

The plan is simple:

  • Attend the opening session of Buddies Welcome Newbies on Wednesday of the conference (Nov. 2).
  • After the presentation, which will be jam-packed with cool tips for getting the most out of the conference, Newbies will be paired up with Buddies (the final ratio of Buddies to Newbies will depend on the number of participants in attendance).
  • Newbies and their Buddies make their own plans to attend a conference session together, have a meal together, etc. The number of activities and frequency is up to you.
  • Attend the wrap-up session on Saturday Nov. 5 for even more great information on what to do next and to hear presentations from guest speakers.

Although we often advertise this event as a great session for Newbies (and the benefits for them are apparent), the real stars of the program are the Buddies. We just can’t do it without their help, dedication, and willingness. A big shout-out to all our Buddies! If you’ve been to an ATA conference before – and remember how scary/confusing/overwhelming your first conference was – then you’re an ideal candidate to be a Buddy!

Haven’t registered yet? Here’s the link: http://www.atanet.org/events/newbies.php (Buddies can sign up here too!). In case we haven’t convinced you already, here are some of the concerns that other Newbies have told us are reasons they’ll be attending the Buddies Welcome Newbies sessions (and we’ll be sure to address these at the session): learn new skills, meet people, network, learn more about my field, get tips from a friendly colleague on choosing sessions, I’m introverted, learn how to make the most of the conference.

What you get out of the Conference is up to you, and your Buddy will be a friendly face who can provide general guidelines as to what to do, how to navigate the Conference, and perhaps share a tip or two about the trade. Your Buddy is just a friend who can help you feel less anxious about the conference.

Have questions about how to prepare for the conference ahead of time? Did you know there’s a free webinar for that very purpose? Check it out:http://www.atanet.org/webinars/ataWebinar116_first_timers.php. We also invite you to join the Newbies listserv, a forum where Newbies to the 57th ATA conference can post their questions and concerns: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/atanewbies57/info.

And don’t forget to leave us your comments below to tell us about your experience before or after the Conference!

Book Review: The Money Book

By Jamie Hartz

Book Review - The Money BookThe Money Book by Joseph D’Agnese and Denise Kiernan had been on my reading list since I received it as a gift last year, and I’m excited to share with you what I learned—and what I will do differently—as a result of reading it.

The book is not geared specifically towards freelance linguists or translators (I am both), and I liked this fact. I thought it would be a good chance to branch out and see what other freelancers are saying. I also wanted to see what solutions others have found to the challenges that come along with this type of work. The authors of The Money Book are both independent workers who have found freelancing to be, indeed, freeing, and it was clear that they are excited to share this freedom with others.

I could sum up the book’s main mantra with this admonition: as a freelancer, treat yourself as a good employer would treat you. After all, as a freelancer you are your own best employee. Overall, the book helped to expand the topics I am thinking about as a freelancer and made me look farther into the future when it comes to my career. For instance, the authors discussed the benefits of starting an IRA early in life—a fact that I knew in the back of my head, but I needed a kick in the pants to start implementing it.

Throughout the book, the authors discuss some of the pros and cons to freelancing. Some of the pros to having an employer (at least in the U.S.) include 401(k) management and contributions, health/life/disability insurance, tax withholding, and payment of office/travel expenses. However, some of the benefits include: flexibility to set your own schedule, unlimited income potential, being your own boss, ability to work from anywhere in the world, and seeing a direct increase in your pay when you work harder or more. These advantages and disadvantages really come into play when managing your finances as a freelancer.

The book works off of the basic premise that readers should first figure out how much they make, then determine how much they spend, and then find a way to reconcile the two. One of the most interesting pieces of advice in the book was the authors’ recommendation of using percentages to determine how to allocate your freelance income. I especially like the idea of using percentages because it means that your own personal income and business expenditures will be directly proportional to your business income—which is also conveniently how taxes work.

For instance, say you were to put 20% of every check you receive aside for business expenses (conferences, office supplies, internet, smartphone) and 30% for taxes (including accountant fees). This would leave 50% of your total business revenue for your personal income (from which you would pay for health insurance, retirement savings, and the like). It would also potentially leave you a chunk of cash come April 15—depending on how much you can deduct from your taxable income—that you could pay to yourself as a bonus. The authors also have extensive recommendations about saving for emergencies and paying off credit card debt, for those who choose to combine their personal and business finances.

What I like most about the percentage system is that it has the ability to break a vicious financial cycle. Old habits—especially money-related ones—die hard, and once you get used to paying yourself a certain sum of cash from your business revenue, it can be hard to live without that same amount each month. With the percentage system that this book lays out, you know that your personal cash flow will be directly related to your business income and you can plan accordingly based on the influx of income you expect each month, adjusting percentages as time goes on and as you learn more about your business’s ebb and flow.

In summary, I would recommend The Money Book for individuals who aren’t at all certain how this freelance thing works, or who are looking for a basic system to help them get out of debt while working part-time or on a freelance basis. You’ll find great encouragement that will help you save and plan for your goals while freelancing. Be sure to let us know what you think!

Header image credit: tookapic
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Book Review: Found in Translation by Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche

by Jamie Hartz

Book Review - Found in TranslationIf your experience as a language professional has been anything like mine, when someone asks what you do for a living, you always have to qualify your response. “I’m a translator” isn’t going to cut it, but “I’m self-employed as a Spanish-to-English written translator” just might get the conversation going.

Next time someone asks what you do and gives you a blank stare upon hearing your response, hand them a copy of Found in Translation by Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche. The work is a compilation of stories and anecdotes which are drawn from many years of careful, thoroughgoing research conducted by the authors. The result is a book that reminds me why I’m proud to be part of this profession and has helped me articulate to my acquaintances what I do, and why it matters.

This book, which the authors have dedicated to translators, is the sort of work that will make you gasp, laugh out loud, and maybe even cry as you read fascinating stories about how language, translation, and interpreting affect every arena of life. It brings to light fascinating stories—some well-known and some untold—about “how the products you use, the freedoms you enjoy, and the pleasures in which you partake are made possible by translation,” all the while educating laypeople and monolinguals about our field and the industry.

I enjoyed this book not only because it was entertaining, but because it lent credibility to everything I do as a professional. By listing statistics about the language services industry, stating the growing need for professional translators and interpreters, and discussing the dedicated (and sometimes dangerous) work that language providers offer, the authors have done an amazing service to the translation community and the world at large.

Found in Translation catches readers’ attention from page one, as the first story in the book is an immobilizing tale about Nataly’s experience as an over-the-phone Spanish interpreter for a 9-1-1 call. From this story on, the book grabs ahold of you and doesn’t let go. Among the other anecdotes mentioned are:

  • The interpreter who played a role in Yao Ming’s integration into the NBA
  • A mistranslation that caused video game fanatics to spend months searching for a non-existent villain
  • An interpreter at the Nuremberg trials whose life was forever altered by the horrors of Nazi Germany
  • Stories of how translation has prevented or mitigated international health crises
  • Interpreters who serve as language intermediaries for the International Space Station
  • How Martin Luther’s translation of the New Testament set a foundation for not only a language but an entire religion
  • Jost’s harrowing experience as an interpreter in China for some German tourists who decided to take more of an adventurous vacation than he had bargained for

Savvy Newcomers, you know as well as I do that our jobs aren’t always easy—either to perform or to explain. I recommend this book as an eye-opener for people who don’t understand what you do, and as an inspiration for you to keep on doing your job to the best of your ability. Enjoy!

Managing the Ups and Downs of Freelancing

By Jamie Hartz; reblogged from DVTA (Delaware Valley Translators Association) blog with permission from the author

Managing the Ups and Downs of FreelancingThe choice to be a freelancer comes with a lot of fluctuation—there are slow times and busy times, and there are stressful projects and easier projects. The ups and downs that come with freelancing are aplenty—we often deal with loneliness, the stress of making all our own decisions, the struggles of having a home office (with the distractions of children, neighbors, pets, and housework)—and yet the majority of freelance translators and interpreters report that they are very satisfied with their work. How is that possible, you ask? It’s possible because we learn to manage the ups and downs.

The “ups” of freelancing tend to be easy to manage. We prioritize and make lists (dozens of lists, all over the house and home office!). We learn not to overbook ourselves, taking each project as it comes and planning our time effectively. We learn to leverage work we’ve done in the past, using old glossaries and TMs from previous projects. The “downs” are trickier, but managing the slow or discouraging times as a freelancer is the key to making your career sustainable and rewarding. Below are six tips I’d like to offer on managing the ups and downs of freelancing; take it from someone who’s riding the ups and downs at this very moment!

  • Use downtime to market yourself.

A colleague recently reminded me that devoting 50% of your time to well-paying work and 50% to business development is better than devoting 99% to low-paying work and 1% to business development. If you have downtime you can devote to developing your client list and gaining better-paying clients, use it wisely! Create a marketing plan that will allow you to complete small, specific tasks related to marketing yourself on each day that you have downtime. Personally, I’ve found that downtime is the perfect opportunity to work on developing my website and adding in keywords that will help my site’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

  • Keep good records and update them during slow times.

Keeping good records is important for any business, but as a freelancer it’s absolutely vital. In order to leverage previous work and plan for the future, you need to have client lists, rate sheets, and project databases organized and ready to work for you. Take advantage of slow times to organize a spreadsheet or a computer folder that has been accumulating junk for a few months, or to set up a new invoicing system that will streamline your billing process.

Keeping records will also help you to plan ahead. By looking back at your records kept from previous months or years, you may realize that a certain week is slow every year and you should plan a vacation for that time next year. During a recent slump in my work, I was encouraged to look at my records and find that I was still meeting my goals even though I had a few slow weeks towards the end of the year.

  • Develop new skills or hone old ones.

Downtime can be a good opportunity to try new things. During slow times, consider volunteering your language skills for an organization in your area or a volunteer translator website. Volunteering can help you develop new skills; for example, if you are a translator, you may consider volunteering in a subject area you haven’t worked in before (with the understanding that a qualified professional should check your work). If you’re looking to begin offering a new service, such as transcription or interpreting, this can be a good time to hone those skills as well. I recently took a training course in interpreting but haven’t had much opportunity to practice it professionally, so one of the things I’d like to do in my downtime is volunteer as an interpreter for an immigrant and refugee center in York.

  • Build your network.

Try building up your network during downtime, not only as a way to fill your time, but also as a way to get new work. Get to know other freelancers, whether in person in your local area or through social media. My experience has been that fellow freelancers are incredibly supportive and will be happy to give you tips to carry you through the rough times. Some of the people you meet may even become informal mentors or may refer work to you at times. Some ways to meet and connect with other professionals include chambers of commerce and meet-up groups. I personally plan on joining a Young Professionals Network here in Lancaster after the holidays to meet other like-minded people and expand my network.

  • Keep a list of things you want to do “someday”.

When you have some downtime and have exhausted all of your professional efforts to market yourself, keep good records, develop new skills, and build your network, pull out this list. One of the perks of freelancing is that there’s no boss to tell you that you can’t go for a jog in the middle of the day or pull out that craft project you’ve been working on since 2002. I consider myself lucky to have had enough downtime in the last few weeks of the year to work on making Christmas gifts from ideas I found on Pinterest; this is the first year I’ve actually had time to do that!

  • Hold a “Do It Day”.

One final suggestion I have on managing downtime is to gather a few freelance colleagues and hold a “Do It Day” (shout-out to freelance translators Corinne McKay and Tess Whitty for this idea). This is a day that you dedicate exclusively to cracking down on that list of tasks you’ve been avoiding for too long. You and your colleagues (I would limit it to three or four) connect once each hour to tell each other what you did in the last hour and what you plan to do in the next hour. My group uses ooVoo, a free video chat software. I have found that this is a great way to take advantage of downtime in a fun way that will hold you accountable to cutting down on that ever-growing to-do list.

Managing ups and downs isn’t easy, but if you leverage them to your advantage, your career will be far more rewarding and the busy times will return before you know it.

Header image credit: Picjumbo
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People Do Business with People They Know, Like, and Trust

by Jamie Hartz

It’s all about peopleOne of my more menial but surprisingly rewarding jobs during college was working at a Chick-fil-A. This came in handy recently when I had to translate a 20,000-word catalog of industrial kitchen equipment, most of which I would have never laid eyes on had it not been for the many hours I spent chatting in the “back of the house” with the Mexican kitchen staff of the franchise I worked at. But a knack for Spanish and a knowledge of the difference between fregadero and lavamanos aren’t the only thing I gained from this experience; my years there also gave me very valuable insights about customer service.

In case you’ve never been to a Chick-fil-A before, I’ll fill you in: Chick-fil-A is a fast food restaurant that regularly wins accolades for delivering on its stated goal of providing customers above-average service. From greeting customers cheerily when they walk through the door, to always responding with “It’s my pleasure” when guests say “Thank you,” to anticipating unspoken needs, the chain’s positive culture is contagious. During the four summers I worked there, I saw time and time again how genuinely impressed our customers were when we as employees provided service that went above and beyond their expectations, and it was this type of experience that endeared them to our brand and kept them coming back to us.

I’m happy to report that my Chick-fil-A days are over (the uniform wasn’t particularly flattering, and I didn’t love cleaning waffle fries off the floor), but the will and passion to serve my customers remains. As I launch into a full-time freelance career, I’m continuing to learn the importance of serving customers—and the line between that and letting them walk all over me. I don’t bend over backwards to do unpaid work when a client asks for a “quick favor,” but I do go the extra mile in order to make each client feel that they are important.

One client recently wrote me this: “Your work is like a wrist watch; every gear has to do its intended job so that the clock can function. You not only installed the gear, you did extra work, like adding oil to it.” I believe in producing high-quality work so that each client knows that I have gone above and beyond in my work for them. Providing this type of experience leads, as I learned during my restaurant days, to loyal clients who trust me because they know that I have gone the extra mile to exceed their expectations. Along these same lines, I’m also learning the truth to the saying that “people do business with people they know, like, and trust.”

This phrase puts into words a phenomenon with which I have become familiar: social capital. Similar to the concept of economic capital, social capital is the set of resources and connections that a person has and can mobilize in order to gain more resources. In a nutshell, it’s your network. In May 2015, I completed a master’s thesis at Kent State University, for which I translated a sociological journal article on this topic (interested? Read my translation here). The author actually tries to debunk the concept of social capital, but I found the phenomenon to be very applicable to my own work.

In the business world, an example of social capital is the idea that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. When I look through the list of clients I’ve done work for in the last six months, and think about how I became connected with them initially, more than 90% of my income has been from clients who I either met at an American Translators Association conference, or who were referred to me by someone I knew personally. Only 10% came from listings in online directories or marketing emails I sent. Think about where the majority of your projects come from. How many of them were the result of a connection with someone who knows, likes, and trusts you because you made a personal connection with them?

When I look at that list and think about how social capital has played a role in starting my business, it highlights something that my dad has always told me: “It’s all about people.” This is something that doesn’t come easily to me, as a task-oriented translator who works from home. It’s also part of the reason I attend the ATA conference, try to maintain my relationship with classmates from undergrad and grad school, and am getting involved in my community. Social capital is real, and we need it for more than just business reasons.

I also want to emphasize that the title of this article doesn’t only go for freelancers. I unwittingly proved it recently when I hired a lawyer to set up my LLC. I made a lot of calls and emails looking for the right person for the job. One person responded two weeks later saying that he’s not good with “these machines” (meaning email) and didn’t realize he had never responded to my message. Do I trust him? No. One person I spoke with on the phone gave me the distinct impression that I wasn’t worth his time. Do I like him? No. One person was referred to me by a translator I know in the Philadelphia area. When I called, he responded immediately. He was knowledgeable, friendly, and professional. In the words of Goldilocks, he was “juuust right.” Which of these do you think I chose to set up my business? Professionalism and quality are important—don’t get me wrong—but when push comes to shove, people do business with people they know, like, and trust.

Moral of the story: be someone that people know, like, and trust!

 

Following up after the ATA conference—How to ensure your efforts and expenses don’t go to waste!

by Jamie Hartz

Follow up and follow throughATA 56th Annual Conference #ata56 Miami

Within two weeks

Review your notes from the conference sessions and networking events. Make a to-do list of people to follow up with, and save all the business cards you collected. You can upload them to an electronic contact file, but be sure to save the business cards too in case you want to check them later. Organize the cards by what type of contact the person is—potential client, colleague in your language pair, interesting person you want to get to know more, etc.

Reach out to each of these people within two weeks after you return from the conference. Send them an email with a friendly but professional message. One tip is to include a tidbit of interesting information that is relevant to that person, ask them a thought-provoking question, or give them an update on a topic that the two of you talked about. Be specific about where and when you met the person, and be sure to thank them for their time. Person #1 on your list of people to contact should be your Buddy! Here’s an example:

Dear Mary, it was great to meet you at Brainstorm Networking during the ATA conference. I was really curious about what you said about medical terminology. I’ve been studying in some crazy ways, but I never ran across your method, and you said you had a description written down. Would you be willing to send it to me? I think it will really help me solve some of the translation problems I run into. By the way, would you like to work with me on some of the translations I do? Maybe you could review some of my work, and we could see how it goes.

People tend to appreciate it when you connect them with a good resource or a person they have something in common with, so if you see opportunities, don’t hesitate to make these connections. Here’s another example:

Dear Mary, as I was talking to Joe at the ATA conference, I realized he is working on exactly the same problem you are trying to solve. I think if you and Joe got together you would do great work. You can find his contact info in the conference app. Tell him I mentioned this to you, because I was talking to him about you today. I hope it goes well!

This type of connection is mutually beneficial to both Mary and Joe, and it also makes you look good! Keep an eye out for opportunities to help others.

Within two months

Reach out again to everyone you met at the conference within two months. Ask questions about specific conversations you had or situations they told you about; show that you are interested in them and that you want to keep in touch. This is a good opportunity to briefly share the progress you have seen in your business/job/other endeavors since the conference or how you’ve implemented what you learned and are using it to grow your business/job/other endeavors.

Within six months

Reach out once again to the people who responded to your initial correspondence. Follow up on your more recent discussions and keep the correspondence going so that the person remembers you and recognizes that you are taking an interest in your professional relationship. You can ask if they are going to the conference next year and how business is going for them.

Take some time to evaluate how the conference went for you the previous year and consider what you need to do to prepare for next year (it’s never too early to start thinking about this). Perhaps you need to develop a professional website or set some career goals for yourself. If there were things you felt you could have done differently, either in preparation or during the conference itself, review your notes and consider what you need to do to get the most out of your time this year.

Access the resources you need to succeed

Local chapters and affiliated groups
ATA is affiliated with a variety of local translator and interpreter associations across the U.S. that help professionals stay involved in their own regions throughout the year. This map shows the locations of regional T&I organizations across the country.

There are three types of local T&I organizations: local chapters (official chapters of ATA), affiliated groups (affiliated with ATA but not officially chapters), and other T&I groups. To find out how to join the local T&I group nearest you, click on the aforementioned links.

These local translation and interpreting professional organizations offer the opportunity to connect with people in your profession who live in your geographical region, which means that you will be able to meet in person more often and share advice, stories, and questions on a more regular basis. Local chapters and other groups also hold regular events for networking and professional development. Much like ATA, they also typically provide various levels of membership, which includes a listing in the organization’s directory of translation and interpreting professionals.

ATA Divisions
Each person’s ATA membership includes free membership in the various divisions, which are organized groups within the association for special interests, such as languages or language families (Spanish, Nordic, Slavic, etc.), specializations (Medical, Science and Technology), or service types (Interpreting). These groups convene at their annual meetings during the ATA conference, but they also provide benefits outside of the conference in terms of member forums, newsletters, webinars, and more.

Joining a division is simple. Just log in to your ATA membership profile on the website and click the word “Modify” next to “You belong to __ divisions”. Select the divisions you would like to join and then click “Submit”. There is no limit to the number of divisions you may join.

Once you have joined the divisions of your choice, visit each of their websites to see what they are up to. On these sites, you will be able to sign up for listservs (member forums), newsletters, blogs, and more. You can also visit these sites periodically to keep up with the current news and events for each division.

Other resources

Business Practices list
The Business Practices forum is a lively and active Yahoo group where ATA members can collectively discuss issues related to business practices in the translation and interpreting professions. You can opt to receive an email each time a new post is made, or you can receive a daily digest of the discussions. Some forum members choose to lurk in the background, following the conversations but not necessarily contributing, and others choose to participate in the discussions on a regular basis. Either way, you are sure to learn a lot from your colleagues in this forum.

The Savvy Newcomer
The Savvy Newcomer is a blog that ATA volunteers started in order to provide resources and advice for people who are just getting started in translation and/or interpreting careers. We post articles weekly with relevant content for newbies, and we always welcome feedback and questions.

Mentoring Program
The ATA Mentoring Program matches newer translators or interpreters with more experienced ones in a one-on-one, year-long program wherein the mentor offers ongoing advice and support to the mentee to foster his/her professional growth. Learn more and see if you are currently a good candidate for mentoring here: https://www.atanet.org/careers/mentoring.php.

Endless possibilities
Don’t underestimate the benefits of other resources you may have in your own backyard!
– Your local chamber of commerce most likely has networking events where you can meet potential clients or other professionals.
– Many cities have coworking offices where you can rent a desk or workspace and meet other freelancers or small business owners.. You can build great relationships and pick up some useful tips this way
– Every town has freelancers—you just have to look for them! Try searching for Meetups in your area (www.meetup.com)

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” Dale Carnegie

My Biggest Questions about Getting Started

By Jamie Hartzbillboard-63978_150

It seems to me that some translators and interpreters fall into the profession by virtue of their linguistic ability and prior knowledge in a subject area, while others aspire to the profession and gear their studies and work experience toward a career in translation and/or interpreting. For me, a student and aspiring translator, it can be hard to see what lies ahead. Even after hearing countless stories of how experienced translators have arrived where they are today, certain questions baffle me as I seek to get started in this industry and reach for my goals. For some of the questions, I have found satisfactory answers; for others, I am still searching! Here are just a few of those that have plagued me…

1. Do I choose a specialization right away? If so, how?

From what I know about well-established translators, many identify a specialized field in which they translate: finance, medicine, business, patents, you name it. Some of those people will say they worked hard to get into that field, while others will say it chose them. Knowing that, I have to wonder: should I be pursuing subject-area competence on my own, or waiting for a specialization to find me? If I am to pursue it myself, how do I know which area to choose? One possibility is to choose a field and find a way to work in it while I am in school to gain subject-area knowledge in the hopes of someday specializing in that domain. But is this the best way to specialize? And if not, then how else can I increase my knowledge in a relevant subject?

2. What kind of training do I need to succeed and be a good translator?

This is a question I think many people currently in the field disagree about. When I finished my undergraduate degree and decided to pursue translation, it wasn’t immediately obvious whether it would suffice, for example, to have a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish or to have spent a semester living abroad. I also didn’t know whether a graduate degree was a necessity—was it possible, I wondered, to be respected and successful as a translator without a T&I degree? Was it advisable? Another question I considered was what kind of degree to pursue and how long it would take. ATA’s “list of approved translation and interpreting schools” pointed me toward schools that would offer the kind of degree I wanted and felt I should have… but which would I attend? Online or on campus? A Master’s degree, Ph.D., certificate…?

3. How do I get experience if I have no experience?

This one still lingers on my more pessimistic days… I’m in school now and I do my homework, work hard for my grades, but when I graduate I know employers, agencies, and clients will want to see experience on my resume, not necessarily a high GPA. But then, if I don’t already have experience, how do I ever get it? The simplest answer I’ve found so far is to volunteer. There are a host of sites which give both new and experienced translators the chance to do pro bono work and beef up their resumes a bit in the process. Plus, the coursework I spend time on now isn’t just busywork; it will help me demonstrate to potential employers that I have the skills to do a job well.

money-167741_1504. How do I even begin to set rates?

Go to any conference or gathering of translators and interpreters and it won’t take long to hear the admonition that even “newbie” professionals should never accept low pay for their work because it undermines the industry. However, with all of the (understandable) silence surrounding rates in the ATA, it is hard for students and newcomers to get a feel for what a reasonable rate is.

Many U.S. translators charge per source word. To set a base rate for their translation work, some translators use CalPro, a document created by Asetrad (the Spanish Association of Translators, Copyeditors, and Interpreters) that enumerates the many factors that come into play when setting translation rates. In essence, it provides a framework for determining how much to charge based on your desired annual take-home salary. It even helps you figure out the business expenses that go along with running your own freelance business, like office supplies and computer software.

After going through CalPro with my particular case, I wondered whether I could really charge as much as I wanted to as an inexperienced “newbie.” I have my theories about this, but my attitude toward rates is still a work in progress.

Well, you’re thinking, she’s got a lot of questions, but not a lot of answers. Here are some of the ways I have found answers to my multitude of questions:

  • Attend the ATA conference. At a conference this big, you are bound to meet a huge variety of people from different backgrounds. Attending the ATA conference is an expense, but one well worth it—not only will you be able to sit in on sessions that help you to develop professionally, you will have the chance to meet others who are in the same boat as you are.
  • Check out the ATA website. Don’t take it for granted! The ATA website has tons of resources for translators, including free webinars.
  • Go to school. There is great value to jumping right in and starting a degree or certificate program. You’ll receive feedback, have professors who are willing to answer your crazy newbie questions, and meet peers with whom you can form strong professional bonds.
  • Join a local chapter. This is a good way to get face time with other translators and interpreters you wouldn’t normally meet in person. Many local chapters have networking events, webinars, and free online resources to help you get started.
  • Look up a school, a translation agency or a translator in your area. When my mind first started to buzz with all these questions, I went to the ATA Directory of Translation and Interpreting Services and looked for a professional translator in my language pair who lived in my area. Lo and behold, I found a Spanish translator living right in my neighborhood who was more than happy to meet with me and give me tips about getting started. I have found that oftentimes agencies are also willing to share with students and newcomers the types of qualifications they look for on contractor resumes and the credentials they expect from their translators, as a means of pointing us in the right direction.

What about you? What are your biggest questions about getting started? Feel free to post your questions in the Comments section or email us directly at atasavvynewcomer@atanet.org.