Buddies Welcome Newbies: A conference event you don’t want to miss

The hybrid format of this year’s Annual Conference brings with it new opportunities and challenges alike, for all attendees. Are you ready for the ins and outs of next week’s events, whether you are attending in person or virtually? Here are The Savvy Newcomer’s top ten tips for a successful hybrid conference:

  1. Attend Buddies Welcome Newbies

Both the virtual and in-person components of this event will provide first-time attendees the opportunity to connect with a seasoned conference-goer and have their burning questions answered. A great way to start off the conference festivities, Buddies Welcome Newbies will offer some networking advice as well as time to get to know your Newbie(s) or Buddy.

Virtual: 12:15-1:00pm Central time on Wednesday, October 27, 2021

In person: 4:45-5:30pm Central time on Wednesday, October 27, 2021

(We recommend that you check the box on your conference registration to sign up for these events, but this is not required.)

  1. Check the registration desk

You’ll need to visit the registration desk to pick up your conference badge before attending any events, but be sure to also check out some additional accoutrements in the registration area: a) language dots to show what languages you speak or work in; b) ATA branded facemasks available for purchase at the ATAware store; c) colored wristbands to indicate your level of comfort with proximity to others.

  1. Join us for breakfast (in person only)

The breakfast area is always a great place to meet new people, especially so for first-time attendees. If you can’t make it to the Wednesday event the Saturday Buddies Welcome Newbies breakfast is a great opportunity to connect with a Buddy and ask questions.

  1. Attend networking events

In addition to your educational sessions, be sure to work in some time for networking events; these are a great place to connect with colleagues you may never have met otherwise. They are available to both virtual and in person attendees; make sure to check the schedule for the events that may interest you!

  1. Have virtual materials ready

Even if you are attending the conference in person in Minneapolis, it’s a good idea to be prepared with online resources that will allow you to share your contact information with others quickly, easily, and safely. Consider having a QR code that people can scan to add you on LinkedIn or access your website/a contact card.

  1. Prepare some questions

Lots of networking experts will tell you to have an elevator speech ready, and we agree that you should have thought about a succinct way to explain who you are and what you do. But networking is a two-way street! You should also be ready with engaging and open-ended questions that will help you learn about the people you meet and get to know them better. Instead of “So, what do you do?” think something more like, “Have you gained any interesting new clients lately?” or “How did you get started as a translator/interpreter?”

  1. Plan how you’ll collect contact info

You’ll certainly give out your own contact information to lots of colleagues at the conference, but you’ll probably also collect the contact info of many colleagues as well. Do you have a secure means to store this information, whether digital or handwritten? Will your chosen method facilitate follow-up after the conference?

  1. Coffee breaks

Besides being a necessity for those of us with a caffeine addiction, coffee breaks are a good place to connect with people you might not otherwise get to know. Grab a hot beverage and strike up a conversation!

  1. Exhibit hall

The exhibit hall has all kinds of booths, from universities to translation agencies to software vendors. There’s something for everyone (and usually free swag as well!)

  1. Have fun!

Attending your first ATA conference can be overwhelming, but more than anything it should be fun. Translators and interpreters are a welcoming and engaging group of professionals, and we love nothing more than to share about our work and experiences with one another. That’s what makes the ATA conference the best week of the year!

Buddies Welcome Newbies at #ATA61

This year’s Buddies Welcome Newbies features not only a new format but also a new experience. Read on to learn more about how to make the most of ATA’s 61st Annual Conference and how to prepare for our kick-off event.

Event details:

Wednesday, October 21

6:30 pm – 7:30 pm EDT

We’re already loving that we don’t have to study a map to get to a conference room —you already know where to go! All conference attendees who signed up for Buddies Welcome Newbies on their registration form will be able to access the event via a link in the agenda located in the virtual platform —which will be live in the next few days!

If you did not sign up for the BWN event during your registration, but would like to join us, you can do so up to the day of the conference by using the event link on the agenda.

Have an e-card ready

We will start with a brief orientation about the conference in general and some networking tips, creative ways to make the most of the conference, and even some practice time (i.e., networking) in the main floor.

But don’t wait until Wednesday October 21stat 6:30 pm EDT to jot down a brief introduction of yourself! Draft an e-card ahead of time so you can drop it in the chat with these blocks of information:

[name], [email], [where you live], [what you do].

If you have this in some kind of note on your computer or your phone, it will be easy to copy and paste it into every chat.

Bonus tip: All those new and valuable contacts will now be stored in your computer, tablet or phone, ready for you to follow up during and after the conference!

Breakout rooms: Your first major networking event of this year’s conference

Following our presentation in the main room, attendees will be assigned to much smaller breakout rooms (final count of attendees per room will depend on the actual number of participants; as of today, there are 306 of us attending this event!)

Mimicking what happens in the round tables during the in-person BWN event, there will be one moderator (aka a Buddy) in each breakout room, and you’ll have time to briefly introduce yourself and interact with other Newbies and Buddies in this room. Also, in the breakout rooms you can show your cameras, so be ready to interact like you are having real coffee with each other!

Remember: The chat box is the hallway

That’s where the magic happens, and you will have the opportunity to personally interact with other colleagues. Aside from your e-card and mastering the art of Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V, remember to also learn from people’s questions, have some icebreaker comments/questions ready, and be ready to learn, socialize, and make the most of this year’s conference experience until we meet up in person again!

Teacher’s Top Ten: Business Practices

One of the main reasons we encourage students to join ATA is to take advantage of the wellspring of knowledge surrounding best practices—the kind that make working for yourself a smooth ride rather than one riddled with potholes.

Over the years, I have assembled a collection of ATA materials that I share with students and mentees alike. Because when we present ourselves as professionals, we all benefit.

Here then are my top ten professional business practices resources:

10. Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Project This blog post gets you started building a checklist that you should consult when communicating with a client about a potential project. I had a checklist next to my phone for years until I committed it to memory.

09. Translation Certificate vs. Certification This one pairs nicely with What is a Certified Translation. If you’re still confused about the difference between a certificate, certification and a certified translation after reading this, go back and read them again.

08. “Hot” Specializations Past President Corinne McKay takes on the question of specializing in her ATA Chronicle column.

07. Transitioning from Classroom to Career in Translation A free ATA webinar from someone who made the transition herself, packed with practical information.

06. Tips For Navigating Your First ATA Conference A rite of passage for many students, the ATA Conference is a transformational experience that for many marks the beginning of their professional career. Because it’s an investment, it’s a good idea to come prepared, which is what this free ATA webinar does.

05. Preparing to take the ATA Certification Exam While it’s intended to be a mid-career exam, many talented students will sit for the exam after a few years. Watching this free ATA webinar will give you an idea of whether you are ready to take the exam, and how to prepare for it if you are ready to take the plunge.

04. ATA Compensation Survey (the Executive Summary is free, and the full report is available to members) One of the hardest issues T&I practitioners wrestle with is how much to charge. The ATA compensation survey provides a context for understanding what colleagues are charging. The full survey breaks things down by language and geography, and is also useful for influencing policy makers. Be sure to spend some quality time with it before you get to number 3:

03. Setting a Fair Price: It’s All About You A classic article by veteran translator Jonathan Hine that walks you through the full process of setting your rates. Bonus hint: look on the ATA website for the US CalPro Worksheet, a spreadsheet file that does the math for you.

02. ATA Guide to a Translation Services Agreement and ATA Guide to an Interpreting Services Agreement Free, editable downloads of modular contract language that you can include and customize to meet your own needs and situation.

And the number one resource I want every student of translation and interpreting to have:

01. The ATA Code of Ethics and Professional Practice and Commentary Far from being a dry, lifeless legal document, the ATA CEPP embodies our professionalism. The accompanying commentary is a living document that illustrates the concepts with easy-to-grasp situations. Since you signed on to uphold it when you joined ATA, you should probably be very familiar with it—and bookmark it.

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About the author: Caitilin Walsh is an ATA-Certified French-English translator who delights in producing publication-quality translations for the computer industry and food lovers alike. A graduate of Willamette University (OR) and the Université de Strasbourg (France), and a past-President of the American Translators Association, she currently chairs the ATA Education & Pedagogy Committee. She brings her strong opinions on professionalism as an instructor of Ethics and Business Practices at the Translation and Interpreting Institute at Bellevue College, Chair of the T&I Advisory Committee for the Puget Sound Skills Center (both in Washington State), the ALC Bridge Committee, and the Executive Board of the Joint National Committee for Language (JNCL-NCLIS). When not at her computer, she can be found pursuing creative endeavors from orchestra to the kitchen. She can be emailed at cwalsh@nwlink.com, and you can follow her on Twitter @caitilinwalsh.

A Must-Attend ATA Conference Event: Buddies Welcome Newbies

Whether it’s your first conference or your fortieth, all attendees to the 60th Annual American Translators Association Conference in Palm Springs, CA are invited to attend “Buddies Welcome Newbies,” a time for first-timers and veterans alike to mix and mingle, breaking the ice and getting to know a familiar face before conference sessions get under way.

Why should I attend?

Showing up to a Welcome Reception on Wednesday in a room containing 1500 strangers is terrifying; we want to take the stress out of your first contact with fellow conference attendees. By becoming a Buddy or a Newbie you’ll be able to make one-on-one conversation with colleagues who are just as apprehensive as you are about all the activities and professional interactions that await them in the three days to follow.

Those who have attended two or more ATA conferences are encouraged to return as Buddies so they can help ease the transition for incoming Newbies; we know you remember how daunting it was when you first attended the conference, and how rewarding it can be to make someone else feel at home! Buddies may receive 2 CEPs for participating.

I’m interested. Tell me more…

No registration is necessary to participate in Buddies Welcome Newbies, although if you check the appropriate box on your conference registration form we’ll send you more detailed information by email the week leading up to the event. Buddies and Newbies will be paired up at the introductory event, which will entail a short presentation about networking, a few activities to break the ice, and helpful resources and time for you to get to know your Buddy or Newbie.

Buddies Welcome Newbies

Wednesday, October 23, 2019 from 4:45 to 5:30pm (right before the Welcome Reception!)

What will be expected of me?

Each Buddy-Newbie pair is encouraged to attend one session and go to one meal together. You can even make it a group event and include other Newbies and Buddies in your group—the more the merrier. We ask that you agree on a mode of communication at the session Wednesday and stick to your commitment; we hate to hear stories of Buddies who never respond to messages or Newbies who choose not to take advantage of their Buddy’s expertise!

Is that all?

One more thing! At the end of the conference, on Saturday October 26 at 12:30pm, there will be a wrap-up session for Buddies and Newbies wishing to debrief about their experiences and set goals going forward. You’ll find this to be a great time to collaborate with fellow attendees and hear some of their suggestions about how to make the most of your conference experience.

If you’ve already registered for the conference and forgot to check the “Buddy” or “Newbie” box but would like to receive email updates, just let us know by emailing atasavvynewcomer@atanet.org.

We look forward to seeing you in Palm Springs!

ATA59: Making the Most of my First Conference

I finally found the perfect opportunity to attend the ATA’s flagship event, the ATA Annual Conference: ATA59 in New Orleans. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more!

As you think ahead to attending your first conference, I thought it might help to learn a bit about how I prepared for, attended, and followed-up on my first ATA Conference. I’m sharing some of what I did to ensure it was a wise professional investment and not just fun.

Conference Preparation

Understanding What to Expect

I wrote to or spoke with at least a half-dozen colleagues to ask them about their experiences and to ask if they had any advice for me. A few tips I got a lot: 1) plan your conference ahead of time, 2) don’t try to do everything, and 3) stay away from enormous events. I followed tips 1 and 2 but chose to attend the massive Spanish Language Division Dinner with 200 other people, and it was great. Already, on the walk over, I bumped into two Texas interpreters I had been meaning to connect with but didn’t know would be at ATA59.

I also listened to a few podcasts about the event. One was the official ATA Podcast, hosted by Matt Baird. He conducted several interviews with candidates running for the board and led an informative episode with ATA President-elect Ted Wozniak about anything and everything to do with the conference. The Speaking of Translation Podcast, hosted by Corinne Mackay and Eve Bodeux, also has episodes dedicated to the topic of ATA conferences. They discussed making firm plans with anyone you want to meet well in advance, mentioned that the CAT tool companies offer their best discounts at the conference, and recommended choosing your shoes very wisely.

Goal-Setting

My ATA Mentor (you can read about my ATA mentoring experience here), former ATA President Dorothee Racette, CT, suggested I think long and hard about what my main goal for the conference was and to plan my conference experience accordingly. She suggested reading about sessions and events with my goal in mind, but also encouraged me to allow enough flexibility to miss a session or two in order to spend time in the Exhibit Hall or to continue a great conversation with someone.

Pre-Networking

Two of the best connections I made while at the conference came from reaching out to people I knew beforehand who connected me to others they knew. These two new connections were a wonderful and professional agency owner, as well as a veteran conference attendee who became my unofficial conference mentor, inviting me to join his group for a few meals, and introducing me to a number of his colleagues. Both of these connections made a huge impact on my experience; I treasure the wonderful insights they shared about their working life and was pleasantly surprised that these interesting conversations even led to some work offers after the conference.

Translators and interpreters are a nice bunch, so if there is someone you have noticed on ATA forums, or whose writing has caught your eye in the Chronicle or on the Savvy Newcomer blog, or that you’ve heard about somewhere else, reach out and start a conversation before the conference.

At the Conference

Events Attended

I thought it might be helpful to see how much you really can pack into a few days, so here’s a bit of what I did while at ATA59.

In addition to thought-provoking educational sessions (there were 180 to choose from during 12 slots), I also attended the Buddies Welcome Newbies events held on the first and last days, the Welcome Reception, the Exhibit Hall, the Mentor-Mentee meet-up, the Annual Meeting of All Members, the Law Division lunch, the Spanish Language Division dinner, the Career Fair, and I even was able to enjoy the “Breakfast with Board Members” by sitting at a table with a number of board members.

Meeting people at these events was not only fun, but talking shop face-to-face in informal settings gave me great knowledge of what others in my field are doing. It also led to fantastic conversations with Savvy Newcomer leaders Jamie Hartz and David Friedman, which ultimately resulted in me writing this article. You just never know what might happen!

Follow-Up

The Buddies Welcome Newbies event offered on the last day of the conference had a lot of great tips about following up. Helen Eby, one of the Buddies Welcome Newbies leaders, tallied up the cost of attending the conference, both in terms of actual travel and conference costs and the opportunity cost of not working on those days. Helen asked what we would spend that kind of money on and then just throw away, never to think about again! This obviously highlighted the importance of post-conference follow-up.

I did personally follow-up with a number of people I met, and that has led to many interesting conversations. That being said, have I made the most of the momentum I felt after I returned from New Orleans? I have not thrown away the experience by any means, but I will admit that I have not done as much as I could to incorporate new business skills I learned, for example. I also recognize that I could do more to strengthen connections made.

Next time, I will probably pre-write a to-do list of what to do after I return and pre-schedule those tasks into my calendar before I leave for the conference, so that when I return, I can head to my office and let my calendar remind me to do everything I know I need to do.

Conclusion

My best advice is to recognize that your conference fate is really in your hands, and it is up to you to figure out exactly what you want out of it and to make a plan for how to achieve that. I hope my experience can give you food for thought about how you can make that happen for you. Attending the ATA Annual Conference was a wonderful investment in my career and business, and I am ecstatic when I think about all the conferences in my future. I hope to see you there!

Author bio

Jessica Hartstein is an ATA-Certified Translator (Spanish>English, French>English) and a Texas Master Licensed Court Interpreter (Spanish-English). She holds a MA in Conference Interpreting and Translation Studies from the University of Leeds and graduated Cum Laude with a BA from Rice University. Prior to working freelance, she held full-time, in-house translation positions at a marketing firm in Luxembourg and an oil and gas engineering company in Houston. Jessica specializes in legal, medical, asylum, and oil and gas translation and interpreting projects. She has been fortunate to have lived abroad in Spain, China, Japan, England, and Luxembourg. E-mail: jessica@jessicahartstein.com, Website: http://www.jessicahartstein.com/