How to Have a Super First Year in the ATA: Small Resources that Add Up to Big Benefits

Welcome to the third article in the series How to Have a Super First Year in the ATA. This time, I’ll be talking about all the small resources offered by the ATA that add up to big benefits towards the end of your first year.

List Yourself in the ATA Directory

Make yourself findable! Direct clients and agencies alike use the online ATA directory to find professional translators like you. Take the time to complete your profile fully. Include your language combinations, specializations, CAT tools, where you live… even the currencies you accept! Write a descriptive summary and upload your updated résumé. The best way to differentiate yourself is by becoming certified, but if that’s not on your to-do list, becoming a Voting Member is another way to make your profile stand out among the list of translators. (

Become a Voting Member

Voting membership opens doors to your participation in the association—from voting in elections to serving as a member of a committee. ATA active or corresponding membership, that is, voting membership, is available to associate members who either pass the ATA certification exam or go through Active Membership Review. For readers who are not ATA certified, the application form to become a voting member is available here: (

Join a Division

There are currently 20 ATA divisions ranging from language to specialization divisions. Your ATA dues include membership in any or all of its divisions, so you can join as many as you’d like. Many have their own newsletter and/or listserv and host a networking event at the ATA conference. (

Business Practices Listserv

This listserv is all about creating community, networking and getting advice from your colleagues. You can ask questions, post answers, make suggestions and recommendations, or simply read the digest of what everyone else is talking about. From tax regulations to tips on how to deal with an abusive agency, the listserv is a great resource for any translator. Become a member of the business practices listserv here: (

Attend Your First ATA Conference

ATA 57This year’s annual conference, ATA57, will be held in San Francisco, California from November 2-5, 2016. Over 1,800 translators and interpreters will attend the conference, so your chances of networking and creating meaningful connections are pretty high! Not only that, but you’ll have the option to attend over 160 educational sessions. I went to my first conference last year and have nothing but good things to say about it. My next article in this series will be all about the ATA conference, so be sure to check back for a full recap of my first-timer experience in a couple of months. You can learn more about ATA57 here: (

ATA provides you with a number of opportunities to make the most of your membership. All I can do is encourage you to invest some time and take advantage of every single one of these great resources. It’s what helped me feel like I form a part of a larger community of like-minded professionals.

About the author

Molly YurickMolly Yurick is a Spanish to English translator specialized in the tourism, hospitality and airline industries. In the past she has worked as a medical interpreter in Minnesota and as a cultural ambassador for the Ministry of Education in Spain. She has a B.A. in Spanish and Global Studies and a Certificate in Medical Interpreting from the University of Minnesota. She is currently living in northern Spain. You can visit her website at:

ATA Science & Technology Division 2014 National Meeting Program

By Matthew Schlecht

plasma-389438_640The ATA Science & Technology Division has a solid program at the 55th ATA Annual Meeting with content that will appeal to the inner geek in all of us. S&TD includes translators working in a wide variety of language pairs with a focus on scientific and technical subject matter. Some of the S&TD presentations do have a specific language pair focus, while others discuss only subject matter, but all address the unique constellation of terminology, style, register, and background that are necessary to do translation work in this area.

Our Distinguished Speaker for 2014 is Dr. Christiane Feldmann-Leben, who works between English and German, and into German from French and Japanese. One of her presentations (ST1) is entitled “An Introduction to Nanomaterials: From Synthesis to Applications”. This talk will provide attendees with an introduction to the synthesis and analysis of these new materials and will also focus on the applications of nanomaterials in fields such as medicine, the automotive industry, and consumer products. Her second offering (ST1) is entitled “From Oil Economy to Hydrogen Economy: An Introduction to Fuel Cells”, and will explain this important new option for renewable energy. This presentation will explain how fuel cells have reached a highly advanced stage beyond the initial applications in space flight, and cover ongoing developments in the means of producing and storing hydrogen. Listeners will be introduced to fuel cells from the bottom up and will learn about the problems still to be overcome and possible solutions to make a hydrogen economy viable.

Something of use to everyone will be the talk by Patricia Thickstun, who works into English from French. The title is “Updating Your Knowledge of Science and Technology Innovations” (ST9), and the intent is to provide strategies and resources for efficiently developing, expanding, and maintaining one’s science and technology knowledge base. How to be a quick study in science and technology and have fun doing it! Examples will be taken from the fields of biotechnology, medicine, chemistry, and physics.

As the typical bicycling season draws to a close in the Chicago area, Carola Berger (EN>DE) will take you on a whirlwind tour of all things bicycle, from low-end clunkers to high-end carbon fiber frames. Those who attend her presentation, “Grannies, Freds, and LSD: A Non-Pedestrian Introduction to Bicycles” (ST-5), will learn what the jargon in the title really means. In addition, they will be able to translate the user manual for the newest electronic 22-speed gruppo or localize the latest interactive global positioning system bicycling app.

The talk “Left of Boom: Explosives and Bombing-Related Terminology, Part 2” (ST-3) is a follow-up to the well-received Part 1 from last year’s San Antonio meeting. This time, Christina Schoeb (AR>EN) will focus on English-language vocabulary related to explosives and explosions. Terminology related to homemade and improvised explosive devices and bombing incidents will be presented to help translators and interpreters prepare themselves with the English expressions in this field of application.

A presentation of both scientific and medical interest, “Gene Therapy: The New Frontier of Medicine” (ST2), will be given by Tapani Ronni (EN>FI). Gene therapy is the deliberate modification of the genes in a patient’s cells with possible future applications including DNA vaccinations and tailor-made anti-cancer drugs. The talk will cover current applications, the limitations and risks, and will explore the philosophical and ethical issues related to the hotly debated germ line gene therapy.

Another introduction to a high-tech topic will be presented by Di Wu, who works between Mandarin Chinese and English. The talk is entitled “Terminology in Integrated Circuits and Semiconductor Manufacturing” (ST7) and will start with a brief history of semiconductor development, and then it will proceed through the steps of semiconductor manufacturing, including wafer making, processing, wafer testing, device testing, and packaging. He will also profile the business side of the field, listing the major players and discussing trends in semiconductor technology.

Leo van Zanten, who works into Dutch from English and Spanish, will discuss a topic that reaches every corner of the globe: “Agri-Food for Thought: How Agriculture Translates into Food” (ST6). The talk will offer a deeper insight into the world of agricultural food production and the challenges for the future, covering the meaning and background of terminology specific to this area. Examples will cover the challenges and nuances in the translation of commonly-used terminology, such as organic agriculture.

My own presentation, “Chromatography for Technical Translators” (ST8), will cover the widely-used technique of chromatography in terms of theory, equipment, applications, and results. The focus will be on how chromatography is described in documents received for technical translation, with most of the examples between English and German, Japanese, French and Spanish. The jargon and abbreviations unique to the chromatography field will be decoded, and glossary information and resource links will be provided.

The division will be present at the Open House on Wednesday evening and has arranged a dinner on Thursday evening. Two “veteran” S&TD members, Amy Lesiewicz and myself, will host an “S&TD New Member Breakfast” at the ATA Meeting Friday morning continental breakfast (watch for the tables with signs!). We look forward to getting to know new members.

About the author: Matthew Schlecht has operated a freelance translation, proofreading, editing and writing practice under the name Word Alchemy since 2002. He completed an MS and PhD at Columbia University and post-doctoral work at Berkeley in organic chemistry, and also studied Japanese, German, French, and Spanish in parallel with his scientific studies. He worked for twenty years as a researcher in the chemistry and life sciences fields, in both academia and private industry, where he used his language proficiency in service of his research. He now uses his research training and experience to provide expert translation and editing of technical documents.

From ATA’s Divisions: The German Language Division

By Arnold Winter

GLDAs a German-to-English translator, it was a “no brainer” for me to join the ATA’s German Language Division at the start of my career in translation almost ten years ago. While joining the ATA and putting up my profile online resulted in being contacted out of the blue by my first paying client, the GLD is where I started making friends in the business and also found my footing as a translator.

By the time of my first annual ATA conference in 2006 in New Orleans, I had already been working in translation full-time for about two years. My first impression at the conference was that everyone else already seemed to know each other very well. All around, people were greeting each other like old friends, standing around in clusters and getting caught up on each other’s lives. It was certainly a bit intimidating, and I felt like I shouldn’t be intruding on all the lively conversations that were going on.

That all changed very quickly when I attended the GLD’s social event at the conference. Striking up conversations was easy, even for an introvert like me, and I realized that everyone there was interested in the same things as I was and also shared the same experiences in the translation business.

Whether it is the challenge of converting bulky German compound nouns and passive constructions into a natural English style, or the finer points of dealing with specialized subjects and terminology, it was indeed thrilling to find that the linguistic and business challenges that I was running into as a newcomer to translation and had more or less been thinking about instinctively were things that other GLD members were not only encountering as well but could also get just as excited about.

The fact that I had also already been subscribing to the GLD’s Yahoo! Group ( made things much easier. Some of the names on people’s nametags were already familiar to me, and it was great to meet people in person for the first time whom so far I’d only known by name through their online postings. Both at that first ATA conference as well as at every other conference I’ve attended since then, this has served as a great conversation starter. Even most recently at the 2013 conference in San Antonio, I made new friends by people coming up to me and saying: “Hey, I know you from the list.”

In fact, aside from the camaraderie, collegiality and support I’ve found both online and in person, the most important immediate benefit I get from my GLD membership on a daily basis is its Yahoo! Group. To quote the GLD’s own description about the group: “If you haven’t subscribed yet, you’re missing an opportunity to tap into the wealth of knowledge GLD members are eager to impart.”

I myself have found the GLD’s Yahoo! Group to be the best place for quick answers on terminology issues that might otherwise take hours of research, most likely while facing an imminent deadline. Roughly two-thirds of the postings involve linguistic issues. Other topics include technology questions, doing business with clients based in Germany, and announcements and information of general interest.

As reported at the GLD’s meeting at the ATA’s 2013 conference, the GLD currently has about 1,500 members, but only 425 subscribers to the Yahoo! Group. So where’s everyone else?

Whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned language professional, if you are not yet subscribing to the group, you should at least give it a try. It’s certainly okay just to “lurk” for a while and get a feel for the kinds of discussions that go on, and you can always unsubscribe if it’s not for you.

Subscribing to the GLD’s Yahoo! Group is easy. Here’s what you do:

1. Send an email to:

2. In the subject line, enter: subscribe gldlist

3. In the body of your email, write your:

– email address

– full name

– ATA membership number

That’s it!

Another benefit provided by the GLD is interaktiv, the division’s biannual newsletter. Both the most recent as well as past issues can be downloaded in PDF from the GLD’s web page (

Included in interaktiv are profiles on fellow GLD members, dictionary reviews, and information about GLD matters. Another recently added regular feature is Karen Leube’s “(Translation) Notes from the Homeland,” which reports on activities by the Bundesverband der Dolmetscher und Übersetzer e.V. (, the professional organization in Germany for translators and interpreters.

In fact, according to GLD Administrator Eva Stabenow, roughly 9% of the GLD’s members live in Germany and surrounding countries. And with Karen Leube, who is based in Aachen, Germany, as the GLD’s “European Coordinator,” the GLD is now reaching out across the Atlantic. Some of those members outside the United States also come to the ATA’s annual conferences, which certainly makes the GLD a great place to network with colleagues and (potential) clients located in Europe.

Overall, based on my own experience, the GLD is both a great educational and informational resource as well as a place for developing relationships within the German translation community that can lead to referrals and other good things in one’s professional life. For a quick first impression about the GLD, just click on this link to its web site:

About the author: Building on fifteen years of professional experience as an attorney in the United States, Arnold Winter provides German-into-English translation services in the fields of law, business, and finance (  ATA certified from German into English, he has been working with translation agencies and direct clients since 2003. In addition to the ATA and both its German Language Division and the ATA’s local chapter for the Greater Philadelphia area, the Delaware Valley Translators Association (, he is also a member of the Delaware Translators and Interpreters Network (


ATA Divisions: Providing Homes for all Translators

SLD logoBy Lucy Gunderson, CT
Administrator of the Slavic Languages Division

Getting involved in an organization like the American Translators Association can be an intimidating step to take. I know—I went through this once myself. Trying to find a way to stand out among the other 10,500+ members is at best a daunting task. Fortunately, though, the ATA offers the perfect vehicle for doing just this, namely its eighteen different specialty- and language-specific divisions. The core goal of these divisions is to provide information and networking to assist members in today’s competitive marketplace. Divisions offer a wide variety of benefits and services, all organized by Division volunteers. Most importantly, though, divisions provide a welcoming home to members both new and old. When I joined the ATA in 2001, I was overwhelmed by the wealth of information available and intimidated by my more experienced and knowledgeable colleagues, but I quickly found my home in the Slavic Languages Division (SLD). It was easy to get involved and start making a name for myself. Now, as the current Administrator of the SLD, I am here to tell you about my division’s unique history and current offerings.

The SLD was started in 1990 as an ATA Special Interest Group by Susana Greiss, a long-time translator of Russian origin (who, interestingly enough, did not translate from or into Russian). This group held several meetings a year under the auspices of the New York Circle of Translators and, during this time, discussed becoming a full-fledged division of ATA. At a board meeting on October 10, 1993, the Russian Language (later Slavic Languages) Division was approved. Remarkably, and uniquely, from its inception the division announced its intention to represent translators and interpreters of all the Slavic languages and of the languages of the former Soviet Union. Susana’s dream included the desire to provide a professional home and support network for all those people, many of them in the process of or having recently emigrated from that former nation to the rest of the world.

Today the SLD has over 1,100 members working in most of these languages. We also have members who don’t actively use these languages in their work but are simply interested in Slavic languages and want to be a part of our community. Through our website, we offer our members access to our quarterly newsletter SlavFile, our blog, our LinkedIn group, and our Twitter feed. We use our newsletter and social media outlets to share information about translation and interpretation in general and Slavic languages in particular. Other ATA divisions provide similar services. Click here to learn more about them.

In addition to sharing useful information, divisions also play an important role in planning for the biggest ATA event of the year—the annual conference, which is usually held in late October or early November. We solicit and review conference proposals, prepare for our division’s annual meeting, and plan social events. The SLD’s two big social events include our popular lunch for conference newcomers and our annual banquet, which is usually held at a restaurant within walking distance of the conference hotel.

In sum, the not-so-big secret is that divisions always need volunteers! Taking that difficult first step of introducing yourself to your new division colleagues will bring you more rewards than you ever thought possible. The best way to earn referrals from your colleagues, attract the attention of potential clients, and increase your standing in the translation community is by volunteering for your division. Write an article for your division’s newsletter or blog, offer to organize a division social activity, or volunteer to help maintain your division’s website. Who knows? Someday you might even end up a division administrator!

About the Author: Lucy Gunderson, CT is Administrator of the Slavic Languages Division. She is ATA-certified for translation from Russian into English and specializes in human rights, international relations, legal documents, and journalism. She owes her career to the kind SLD members who first welcomed her to the division and encouraged her to participate.

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.