How language professionals can reclaim their digital lives after Snowden

How language professionals can reclaim their digital lives after SnowdenOur private and professional lives happen increasingly online. However, we often compromise our privacy and put the integrity of data and information at risk. Public and private entities exploit that: invasive ads, tracking across websites, profiling, restrictive digital rights management, attacks on net neutrality, bulk data collection – the list goes on.

It is time for language professionals to reclaim control, especially when handling client data, which can be sensitive or even confidential. This hands-on talk provides practical solutions: from encrypted email and secure wi-fi on the go to safer passwords and having your files available and yet safe.

This session was presented at the American Translators Association’s 57th Annual Conference. Learn more about the conference at http://www.atanet.org/conf/2016 and more about ATA at http://www.atanet.org/.

Header image credit: MMT

Author bio

Alexander DrechselAlexander Drechsel has been a staff interpreter with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Interpretation since 2007. He has studied at universities in Germany, Romania and Russia and his working languages are German (A), English (B), French and Romanian (C). Alexander is also a bit of a ‘technology geek’ with a special interest in tablets and other mobile devices, regularly sharing his passion and knowledge with fellow interpreters during internal training sessions and on the web at http://www.tabletinterpreter.eu.

You can also find Alexander on Twitter as @adrechsel (personal account) and as @tabterp where he shares all things related to using tablets for interpreting.

Dear newbie,

By Jamie Hartznewbie

We’ve been in your shoes.

In fact, I’m personally still in your shoes. Last year was my first time at the ATA annual conference, and let me be the first to tell you: it’s overwhelming. But take heart! “Buddies Welcome Newbies” is here to help.

I was a first-time attendee and an undergrad student looking to learn more about this “American Translators Association” I kept hearing about. You may be a student like me, or a mom looking to earn some extra money, a business professional interested in a second career, or a professional translator/interpreter who has just never been to a conference before. Wherever you’re coming from, as a newcomer you will have a lot of questions for the real experts: the people who have made it in this field. Here’s how Buddies Welcome Newbies works:

  • On the Wednesday of the conference there will be a Buddies Welcome Newbies intro session where buddies and newbies will be paired up to swap contact information, do some role-playing in preparation for all the real-life networking both parties will do during the conference, and hear some practical advice from me and Helen Eby, my partner in crime (and a very knowledgeable translator/interpreter).
  • During the four-day conference you will be expected to attend one session with your “buddy,” and to have one meal together. This isn’t a lifelong commitment to be mentor and mentee for as long as you both shall live; it’s just for the conference. The experienced translator will be excited to share their knowledge and expertise with you, and you’ll be glad to have a familiar face in the crowd.
  • On the Saturday of the conference there will be a Buddies Welcome Newbies wrap-up session. Here, you’ll reconvene with your buddy to talk about how the conference went and we will provide you with some helpful instruction about how to follow through on the progress you will have made over the previous few days.

Our goal is to provide you with an experienced translator/interpreter who will help you to make the most of this conference and get a good, strong start in your career. With that said, let me point you to two sites that I know will enhance your understanding of the profession and your preparedness for the conference (that is, in addition to this blog, which you should definitely subscribe to—just click “+ Follow” at the bottom right of the page):

  1. The ATA newbies listserv is an online forum that you can join to post any questions you may have before the conference gets underway. It’s easy to join, and you’ll benefit from the questions that your peers ask on the forum as well. Click here to see the group: http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/atanewbies54/info. You can subscribe by sending a blank email to atanewbies54-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.
  2. The ATA conference website has a page devoted to the newbie/buddy sessions where you can register for our event (this will allow us to pair you up with a buddy, and it will give us an idea of how many people to expect). Click “SIGN UP NOW” at http://www.atanet.org/conf/2013/newbies.htm.

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Next week: Why be a Buddy? From Helen Eby.

How to Market Yourself at the ATA Conference

By Kevin Hendzel

Reblogged from Word Prisms with permission from the author

I’ve hired thousands of translators and interpreters for over 20 years, many from ATA conferences.   Here’s how to attract attention, stand out from the crowd and win new clients.

You’ve arrived in sunny San Diego to 70-degree, zero-humidity weather and spectacular views from your room of sailboats, cruise ships and bright lights on the bay.   The conference launches tonight with a Welcome Reception that is always packed and energetic.  It’s the first of many opportunities you will have over the next four days to market yourself and your skills to potential new clients.

Think like a translation buyer

A central tenet of successful marketing is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes.   Think like a translation buyer, not a translation provider.  ATA conferences are distinctly different experiences for translation buyers.  They are bombarded and often overwhelmed by the hurricane forces of resumes, business cards and pitches and blasted by a dizzying array of faces, names, languages, events and sessions.   So everything becomes a blur.   When I used to work my company booth in the Exhibits Area, it took about two days before my brain staged a cognitive revolt.  I just wanted to hide under the table, mostly from the resumes.  And I’m a translator. Who likes to read resumes.

So you will want to stand out in this sea of sameness.

Shine like a star

Translators and interpreters are word people, but the world is a visual place.  This is especially true of human decision-making which turns out to be emotion-driven, not logic-driven. That means that you want to make your best impression visually, and persuade verbally, with the objective of imparting confidence, trust and interest in translation buyers.

  • Dress: Clean, crisp and professional.  Your first visual impression is important. People judge your dress emotionally and subconsciously, and are often not even aware of how visual impact affects them.  This is a subtle but powerful factor.
  • Business cards: Original, memorable, flawless and available.  Include your language(s) and direction(s) and multiple ways to reach you (phone, website, Twitter, LinkedIn, FB, etc.)
  • Body language: Much of this is common sense. Smile, don’t scowl; engage, don’t avoid; look at people, not your footwear.
  • Narrative: Gracious, inquisitive and thoughtful are better than the hard sell.  Lead with questions about the other person, finish with their wanting to hear more about you.
  • SubjectsGood translation customers care about the following, and in this order:
    • Expertise
    • Reliability
    • Accessibility
    • Flexibility
    • Value

They care a lot LESS about what translators instinctively and compulsively talk about in sort of an encoded-in-our-DNA way:

    • Education
    • Degrees
    • Countries of residence
    • Training programs
    • Certifications (really)

I recognize that this contradicts a lot of what you’ve been told about how to market yourself as a professional translator or interpreter at ATA conferences.  But it will make perfect sense if you think about what you, as a consumer, value when you are looking for a plumber, dentist, doctor or any other professional service and are spending your own money on them.  That top list is a lot more important and compelling to you as a consumer than the second one is. That’s because the second list is just a description of the provider’s personal history.  The first list is all about the customer.

Focus on your customer’s requirements, not your own life story (leave the highlights of your life story to your resume).  It can make all the difference to a translation buyer who you wish to impress and convince to buy your services.

Five Fails

Translators and interpreters are very good at many things at ATA conferences.  They always get out of the hotel and visit the host city, make fast friends with hotel staff, comb through all the dictionaries, software tools and vendor products, listen politely, share experiences and stories and are uncommonly generous.  The Five Fails listed below are the most common pitfalls encountered at the conference.  You will want to avoid these.

  1. Friends Only.  It never ceases to amaze me how many translators will fly thousands of miles to live for several days in a hotel room in a remote city surrounded by hundreds of potential new colleagues, mentors, advisors and friends only to insist on talking solely and exclusively to…people they already know.   The conference is certainly a great opportunity to meet with old friends and renew acquaintances, but its real value lies in pushing boundaries.  That means moving outside your comfort zone by striking out on your own and talking to new colleagues.
  2. Grousing and Complaining.  It’s a rich and supportive environment to let loose about downward pressures on rates, unreasonable client expectations, crazy deadlines, and a total lack of appreciation among the general public and even clients for what translators and interpreters do.  After all, where else will you find people who understand your professional life quite so well?  We all grumble at times about the vagaries of the profession, of course, but try to resist the temptation of grousing and complaining all the time, especially in the educational sessions or the ATA plenary events.  Negativity tends to breed downward spirals of doom and in its purest form is a stunningly powerful client repellant.
  3. Deadly Speeches.  Making comments or asking questions during sessions should be done in the service of the speaker and the topic.  Avoid the temptation to turn your public comments or questions into revival speeches, angry tirades or public challenges of the speaker’s integrity.  It’s the nature of controversial topics to sometimes incite such reactions, but if you go down this path, be prepared to alienate the audience.  It’s best to seek out a middle ground where civil discussion is possible, even (and especially) if you disagree with the speaker.
  4. Staring at Shoes.  There’s an old translator joke that goes like this: “Introverted translators stare at their shoes.  Extroverted translators stare at everybody else’s shoes.”   It may be true that translators are more introverted than other professionals, but take advantage of the more accommodating environment of your colleagues to speak up and share your experience.
  5. Arrogance Breeds Contempt.  Be careful about throwing your weight around too much.  If you want a lesson in humility – and in how spectacularly talented and accomplished your colleagues actually are – the ATA Conference is great place to learn all about it.

Why the American Translators Association?

ATA Logo/Tag--sampleBy Daniela Guanipa

When I first joined ATA back in 2003, I knew it was the organization to join if I wanted to be serious about my language career in the United States. But the truth is I did not know exactly why.

During the fall of 2002 I had had the opportunity to attend my very first ATA Annual Conference as an employee of a language company. The 43rd ATA Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, was an extraordinary experience, though at the time, as a representative of an LSP, my role and interests were different, and I did not take advantage of many opportunities during the conference simply because I was not an independent contractor.

Nevertheless, it provided a great opportunity to learn more about the organization, and this experience is what ultimately led me to become a member the following year when I was no longer working with the LSP.

Had I not had that experience in 2002, perhaps it would have taken me longer to join ATA, because I didn’t know much about it. This is one of the challenges of being a new freelancer: Because we are independent contractors, we depend heavily in the networks we develop, we need to look for information as it is not handed out to us, and we must be very active and involved to stay current with trends, software, etc.

An excellent way of accomplishing this is by joining a professional association. In the United States, ATA, its chapters and divisions, are, without a doubt, the main associations for language professionals.

ATA was founded to advance the translation and interpreting professions and foster the professional development of translators and interpreters. Its 10,500 members in more than 90 countries include translators, interpreters, teachers, project managers, web and software developers, language company owners, hospitals, universities, and government agencies.

The Association membership is available to individuals (Active, Corresponding, Associate, Student) and organizations (Corporate, Institutional) with an interest in the profession, and offers a variety of programs, benefits, and support services, including:

1)      Annual Conference. The ATA Annual Conference is held every fall in a major U.S. city. The conference features more than 150 educational sessions, an Exhibit Hall, and numerous networking events.

 2)      Certification. ATA offers a certification exam to translators in 26 language combinations. Becoming ATA certified allows translators to objectively document their abilities in specific language combinations. To me, earning ATA certification marked an enormous difference in my career. Almost 70% of all new contacts/business find me through the ATA directory because my name stands out with the magic words “ATA Certified” next to it.

3)      Professional Development. The Association offers monthly webinars to provide education in diverse specialties and languages at all skill levels.

4)      Honors and Awards. To encourage, reward, and publicize outstanding work done by both seasoned professionals and students of the craft, ATA presents several awards and scholarships during the Annual Conference.

5)      Divisions. Through 18 specialty- and language-specific divisions, ATA provides ways for members with common interests to network more effectively. Divisions organize formal and informal networking events at the ATA Annual Conference and offer blogs, online discussion forums, and social communities such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

6)      Local Groups. ATA chapters and affiliates provide local translators and interpreters with regional information, marketing, networking, and support.

7)      Client Education. The Association has developed publications to educate consumers about translation and interpreting services and the value that professionals bring to the project or job.

Another interesting fact is that ATA is a member of the Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs (FIT).

As you work your way toward becoming a professional linguist, I encourage you to look into the multiple and priceless benefits that ATA, its local chapters and divisions have to offer to both newcomers and seasoned professionals alike.