Buddies Welcome Newbies at #ata56

By The Savvy Newcomer Team

If 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 Miami 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 grew by leaps and bounds its second year (2014) – attracting over 300 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. 4).
  • After the wonderful 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. 7 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!). And 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 our responses in the right column):

Learn new skills Skills take time, but you will find lots of sessions that get you started thinking about how to do that! You may even find training programs represented in the booths!
Meet people That’ll be easy! We’ll set you up with a ready-made conference Buddy and you’ll meet lots of other Newbies, too.
Network Go to the Division dinners, the Résumé Exchange, the Brainstorm Networking right before the Business Practices happy hour, and see how you can connect with others!
Learn more about my field 175 sessions… Need we say more?
Tips from a friendly colleague on choosing sessions Your Buddy will be awesome for this! Buddies are there to help you break the ice with this scary crowd for a couple of days. Maybe you will even stay connected even after the conference ends, who knows!
I’m introverted Most of us are more introverted than we care to admit… Good thing you admit it! Just assume that others are also looking for a friend. Your Buddy can help you at the opening banquet.
How to make the most of the conference This is our specialty! We are awesome at this! We not only give you tips about this very thing, we also set you up with a Buddy. And later on during the conference, you can just grab anyone with a re ribbon indicating that they are a Buddy, since they are the friendliest bunch in town!

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.

So, get your notepad, tablet or whatever gadget you use for writing stuff down, and get ready to make the most of your conference experience.

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 56th ATA conference can post their questions and concerns: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/atanewbies56/info.

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

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