How Does the ATA Nomination Process Work?

By the ATA Nominating and Leadership Development Committee in February 2015: Dorothee Racette, Connie Prener, Tony Guerra, Susanne van Eyl, Karen Tkaczyk
Reblogged from The ATA Chronicle, February 2015, with permission from Dorothee Racette

Who creates that slate of candidates that we see every year? How does the nomination process work? May I nominate myself? What are the criteria used to decide who should run? This article is an attempt to shed light on a process that is unknown to much of ATA’s membership. We also want to describe here some changes made recently, as well as some new changes for this year.

The committee we are talking about used to be called simply the Nominating Committee. A bylaws amendment in 2009 changed it to the Nominating and Leadership Development Committee. As the name implies, the change expanded the committee’s charge to help produce a pipeline of future leaders.

The Nominating and Leadership Development Committee always consists of five people, per ATA bylaws (Article VII, Section 2d). These five people are appointed at the winter Board meeting to serve during the following year. The committee members for 2015 are: Dorothee Racette (chair), Tony Guerra, Susanne van Eyl, Connie Prener, and Karen Tkaczyk. The committee continually identifies people, helps them find the right volunteer spot within the Association, keeps an eye on the quality of the work they are doing in their current role, and finds out whether they are interested in running the following year.

Leadership Development

Why is ATA interested in leadership development for its Board and potential future candidates? While historically there has been a wealth of talent on the Board from the membership that has sustained and cultivated the vibrant organization that it is today, ATA recognizes that its continued effectiveness and future relevance depend on the strength and clear vision of its leadership. Therefore, plans call for expanding the committee’s activities in the area of training.

Leadership training for individuals would assist in assimilating new Board members, succession planning, developing high potentials, navigating organizational culture, and removing “blind spots.” Leadership training for the Board would work to cultivate team alignment and encourage the integration of and adaptation to changing cultures. It would also work to build trust and awareness among the Board to facilitate consensus, collaboration, and accountability.

A leadership development program should improve leadership competencies, such as improved engagement and more focused and increased Board productivity. In summary, leadership training is designed to help leaders discover more effective and productive ways to achieve personal and professional goals, create alignment with ATA’s organizational culture, and promote strategic objectives. ATA Board members would have an opportunity to enhance their existing skills and resources and to develop creative and innovative solutions to address effectively the challenges of representing the interests of ATA and its membership. We will take a first step in this direction by holding an invitation-only Leadership Development training session at ATA’s 56th Annual Conference in Miami (November 4-7, 2015).

The Process

The Nominating and Leadership Development Committee is active throughout the year. Our activities for the new election cycle begin during the Annual Conference. After the election, the committee holds a follow-up meeting to discuss the candidates’ presentations, as well as what we learned from them that can be passed on to future candidates. Also during the conference, committee members approach people we have contacted previously as potential future nominees to see if they have any questions or concerns about the process.

The committee gets together early in the year to discuss the slate for the upcoming elections. In preparation for the meeting we contact committee chairs, division administrators, chapter and affiliated group presidents, Board members, and others to solicit nominations and recommendations. We maintain a database of people who have been recommended, along with associated information. That includes their profession (e.g., interpreter, translator, educator, company owner, or employee), language pairs, and contributions to ATA and the translating/interpreting professions.

We discuss the individuals who are brought to our attention. We also examine the information provided by those who nominate candidates. The committee has developed a list of criteria an ideal candidate should meet. For instance, to cite just a few of them, we are looking for people who demonstrate leadership, of whom others speak highly, who are articulate, and who are team-oriented. Then we ask questions like:

  • How was this person active within ATA in the past?
  • What talents and preferences were evident during that activity?
  • What personal attributes would make her or him a good candidate and a good director or officer?

In order to present a balanced slate to the membership, we aim to include candidates from all the various areas of our profession. We make an effort to ensure that each is represented in a way that reflects reality. To cite an example, if the term of a director who is an interpreter is about to expire, we will try to put a candidate who is also an interpreter on the slate for that year.

Another consideration is gender. Since a majority of ATA members are female, if four women were leaving the Board in a given year, it would be odd to have a slate composed entirely of men. Other less crucial factors include language pair and geography. We are not terribly worried about French translators or residents of New England taking over ATA, but we would consider the information to see if a proposed slate would be adding diversity.

Once we have created a list of potential nominees, we begin our deliberations. Typical of the questions we raise about each of the candidates are the following:

  • What would this person wish to accomplish if elected?
  • Is this person sufficiently known to have a chance of being elected?
  • How would this person fit into the existing Board?

Once the committee feels that the slate is complete, the nominees are contacted and informed that we support their candidacy. Once the finalized slate is reported to the Board, the committee is available to the candidates for fact-checking written statements and draft speeches. We also have guidelines available to prepare for the actual candidate presentations at the Annual Conference, but it is up to the candidates to devise a way to present themselves in the best light possible.

Nominating Forms

As part of the committee’s continuous review process, the actual nominating application was revised significantly this year. Some of the questions listed on the old Nominating Form were no longer relevant. In addition, some questions were appropriate only for nominating other people, while other items pertained to members who were nominating themselves.

In response, the committee broke up the Nominating Form into one appropriate for self-nominations and one for people being nominated by others. We also felt that there was a place for a tailored set of questions for those nominating or being nominated for officer positions (secretary, treasurer, and president-elect). With this in mind, we have created four separate forms, each with a matching job description for reference:

  • Self-nomination for Director
  • Self-nomination for Officer
  • Nomination for Director
  • Nomination for Officer

Another minor change is that the forms can now be completed and submitted online. Here are examples of questions on the new forms:

  • Which areas of translation and interpreting activity are you passionate about?
  • What strengths would you bring to ATA’s Board of Directors?
  • In your view, which perspectives or points of view should be represented on the Board?
  • What particular strengths does this person have that are necessary for the officer position for which you are nominating him or her?
  • How has the candidate demonstrated commitment to the translation and interpreting professions?
  • Which areas of ATA activity would you hope to become involved in?
  • How do you feel your skills and abilities match the “job description” for your role?

Conclusion

We are confident that these efforts to cultivate tomorrow’s leaders will ensure a strong, vibrant Association. If you have any suggestions for the nomination process or for the development of the Association’s leadership, please send them to nominations@atanet.org. The nomination period for 2015 is now open. You can find nomination forms at http://www.atanet.org/elections. php. The deadline is March 1, 2015. We hope that the process is now clear and look forward to receiving many great nominations this year.

Header image credit: Pixabay

Computerized ATA Certification Exam Option Now Available at Select Sittings

 Reblogged from The ATA Chronicle with permission (incl. the image)

ATA is now offering a computerized option for taking the certification exam at select sittings. Candidates will now be able to take the exam on their own laptops.

Candidates:

  • May use most resources stored on their laptops, including dictionaries and glossaries.
  • May use non-interactive Internet resources, such as online dictionaries and other reference material.
  • May not use CAT tools or translation memories.
  • May not use e-mail, chat rooms, forums, or MT tools such as Google Translate.

This is to ensure that the work is the translator’s own and that the carefully vetted exam passages are not shared.

How Does the Computerized Exam Work?

Candidates input their translations using WordPad (or TextEdit for Mac) onto an ATA-supplied USB drive, with grammar and spell check utilities disabled.

Signed Statement Required

Candidates who opt for the computerized format must sign a statement acknowledging that certain activities are prohibited during the sitting (e.g., use of e-mail and chat, copying the exam passages) and that they understand the consequences of noncompliance.

Candidates who violate the rules applicable to computerized sittings are likely to face restrictions on future certification eligibility and could face ATA ethics violation proceedings.

Information about the statement candidates will sign and the consequences of rules violations is available from ATA’s Certification Program manager.

For a description of the exam format, please see the certification exam overview.

Handwritten Exam Available

Candidates can also choose to handwrite their exam. All candidates may continue to bring and use any print resources they wish.

Exam Schedule

Sittings continue to be scheduled primarily through ATA chapters and affiliates as well as through other local groups.

Groups and individuals interested in hosting a sitting should contact ATA’s Certification Program manager to inquire about the physical and technical requirements needed to host a computerized sitting.

Several computerized sittings will take place in 2017, including at ATA’s 58th Annual Conference. See the schedule of upcoming sittings for the status of future examination sittings.

Anatomy of an ATA Conference

By Jennifer Guernsey
Reblogged from the ATA Chronicle (February 2015) with permission from the author

 ATA 57th Annual Conference

After hearing colleagues raise interesting questions regarding ATA’s Annual Conference, I decided it might be helpful to gather and publish information regarding how decisions are made concerning the selection of the conference venue and sessions. David Rumsey, ATA president-elect and conference organizer, kindly agreed to answer my myriad questions.

Conference Site Selection
How do we identify and select a conference site?

Conference locations are typically selected four to five years in advance. We generally have one to two years for ATA’s Board to evaluate potential locations and then select one of them as the host venue for the conference.

There are several factors that go into selecting a conference site. ATA typically tries to rotate the conference between the East Coast, central U.S., and the West Coast so that the conference will be relatively close to all of the membership at some point. We work with a conference specialist, Experient, to help us identify cities and hotels that can meet our needs. Since it is difficult for a single association to negotiate directly with the conference hotels, Experient helps us in the negotiation process by working directly with the hotel.

Experient looks for locations based on our cycle and then provides a list of prospective hotels. The Board discusses the options and arranges to visit one of the hotels in conjunction with one of the Board meetings. The prospective hotels provide free or discounted accommodations and/or meals for us while we are having the Board meeting and checking out the hotel, which saves the Association money on food and lodging costs. Of the four Board meetings per year, one or two of them are held in potential conference locations.

The biggest hurdle is finding a hotel that can accommodate all of the sessions. The room rate is always a major factor. ATA is in a challenging position because our group is too small for a convention center and often too large for many hotels. The hotel needs to provide 15-20 meeting rooms of various sizes. It also needs to have a venue for the exhibitors, a location for the certification exam sittings, and large areas for the meeting of all members, the closing dance, general mingling, etc. Providing meeting space for 175+ sessions of varying size can be very difficult for many hotels and locations.

In addition to having a conference hotel that will work for us, the host city needs to have easy flight connections. We also look for a host city that has a local ATA chapter to provide logistical support. Finally, we look for cities that have a lot of food and entertainment options and are attractive destinations for the membership.

ATA Annual Conferences are generally held in large, relatively expensive cities: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, etc. Have we considered holding conferences in cities with potentially lower hotel costs, such as Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Omaha, or Memphis?

First, we do consider all types of potential locations for conferences. The larger cities you mention are relatively rare. In the past 15 years, we have only held the conference in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles once. We have not been in Miami since 1985. However, we have found that larger, more popular locations generally attract more attendees. And greater attendance often means more session proposals from which to choose. We have held the conference in many less costly cities in the past (e.g., Nashville, St. Louis, Phoenix, and San Antonio), and we have typically had lower attendance.

Smaller cities, like the ones you mention, also have several complicating issues with them. They often are not easily accessible by air and, more importantly, the hotels in those locations are often unable to provide the meeting space and facilities we need. Portland, Oregon, comes to mind as one of the places that was recently considered but did not have a hotel that could meet our needs.

Can you describe the financial arrangements we make with the hotels? What do we pay for specifically, and what is included as part of an overall package?

We typically negotiate a deal through our representative at Experient, where the hotel will provide the meeting space, seating, etc., free of charge in exchange for ATA filling a minimum number of rooms (i.e., the “room block”). We pay for pretty much everything else. ATA covers all of the audiovisual equipment and the food and beverages during the meals and coffee breaks. We pay for the labor costs associated with the audiovisual equipment, the registration area, etc. If we do not fill our room block, we can be charged an attrition fee, which is based on a negotiated formula (e.g., percent of profit per unoccupied reserved room). The penalties can vary depending on the hotel.

Have we considered holding the conference in a venue that is not a hotel?

We have discussed holding the conference in other venues, including convention centers and universities. We are typically too small for a convention center. In order to make a conference in a convention center affordable, attendance needs to be in the range of 5,000+ attendees. A good conference for us includes roughly half that many attendees. At a convention center, we would be responsible for paying for all of the space as well as all of the chairs, tables, podiums, lighting, and labor costs that a conference hotel typically covers. The cost for the conference registration fees would skyrocket. People would also be responsible for arranging their own accommodations, which would not necessarily provide any cost savings or might be much farther away from the convention center. There would also be no focal point for the after-hours activities and socializing.

Hosting at universities has been discussed, but most universities and colleges are in session when we host our conference. University settings are also relatively inflexible in terms of providing the right mix of large and small spaces for 175+ sessions and other activities. Attendees might have to walk to different buildings to attend sessions. Arranging food and beverages for 2,000 attendees in those venues would be very difficult as well. Hotel accommodations might be quite a distance from the university, and again, there would be no focal point for the after-hours activities.

Selection of Conference Sessions
What considerations determine whether a particular session is included or excluded from the conference lineup?

Each proposed session is reviewed by the leadership of a related division or committee and by the conference organizer and ATA Headquarters staff. The division leadership provides feedback as to whether the session would be of interest. Headquarters provides feedback on the quality of the speaker based on past evaluations. The conference organizer makes the final decision to either accept, reject, or place a session on hold.

About how many sessions were proposed for the Chicago conference, and how many session slots did we have available?

We had over 400 session proposals and fewer than 180 slots. This meant that more than half of the sessions had to be rejected. It was a very difficult selection process.

When you have to decide between sessions that offer both good topics and good speakers, how do you choose?

Well, if the topic is good and the speaker is good, the decision is easy–accept the proposal! But then if all of the slots are taken, we try to vary the speakers and topics as best we can. It is a nerve-wracking exercise!

Do you have a specific number of sessions allocated to each division or subject area?

No, not necessarily. Our primary concern is to offer good sessions. We do not necessarily accept a poor session just because a track does not have anything in it. It is better to have no sessions in a particular track/division slot than to accept a poor session. It reflects poorly on the division and the Association. Accepting a poor session might also mean a good session gets rejected.

Are different considerations applied to the inclusion or exclusion of a preconference seminar?

There are slightly different considerations for the preconference seminars since attendees are paying considerable fees to attend them. The quality of the speaker is often very important. The topic may be very interesting, but if the speaker cannot present the material properly, the session may not be well received. As for all of the conference sessions and seminars, we typically look for sessions that have a clear focus and practical benefit to the attendees; where people feel that they gained a particular skill or information. We like the preconference seminars to be relatively hands-on.

Selection and Funding of Distinguished Speakers
How is funding allocated for distinguished speakers?

There is a set structure for the distinguished speakers in terms of covering registration, hotel, and travel. It is proportional to the amount of time the speaker is presenting at the conference. Typically, we ask distinguished speakers to present two one-hour sessions or one three-hour preconference seminar. The honoraria that are provided are intended to help defray the costs of attending the session but may not necessarily cover all of the speaker’s expenses.

If I am not mistaken, distinguished speakers used to receive full coverage of their travel plus a small honorarium. Why was this changed?

The old system was very difficult to manage financially. Speakers had their airfare covered, but there was no cap on the cost of the ticket (and therefore no incentive to look for cheaper tickets), and speakers often would not request compensation until well after the conference, which made bookkeeping difficult. With distinguished speakers coming from over 25 divisions and committees, it became unsustainable. A new system was implemented where distinguished speakers are offered a conference fee waiver, one to four nights in the conference hotel, plus an honorarium to help cover the cost of airfare or other incidentals based on their location and the number of sessions they offer. The idea is not to have distinguished speakers make money off the conference, but to share their expertise as professional colleagues.

Presumably there is a limited pool of money available to fund distinguished speakers. If the number of speaker requests exceeds the available funds, how do you determine which speakers to fund and which to deny?

We generally budget for at least one distinguished speaker in each division. However, we do not always accept the proposal from the suggested distinguished speaker, not for financial reasons, but usually because their proposed session is not particularly strong or relevant.

2016 ATA Conference page
How to Write a Winning ATA Conference Proposal (Free Webinar)

Author bio
Jennifer Guernsey is a Russian>English translator specializing in medicine and pharmaceuticals. She has a degree in Russian language and literature from the University of Michigan. She began her career by translating technical monographs and patents while working Russian-related “day jobs” involving Soviet refugee processing and, later, biological defense. After more than 25 years in the translation field, her specialization has narrowed to medical and pharmaceutical translation. She also assists life scientists at area universities with editing and grant proposal preparation. Contact: mailto:jenguernsey@gmail.com.

A Slammin’ Good Time at #ata57

ATA 57th Annual ConferenceFor all our camaraderie, we translators rarely have the opportunity to get a glimpse of each other’s work. But at this year’s ATA conference, two translators will display their efforts for all the world to see. Watch French-to-English translators Jenn Mercer and Andie Ho go head-to-head in a Translation Slam at the American Translators Conference in San Francisco on Saturday, November 5 at 2 p.m. Both of them will translate the same text but only unveil their masterpieces to each other and the public for the very first time, live and on screen, at the conference. French to English translator Eve Bodeux, FLD Administrator, will serve as moderator.

This battle for the ages is for novices and veterans alike. Come see linguistic techniques, philosophical approaches, writing styles, and word choices compared and contrasted. Witness how experienced translators face lexical challenges and handle feedback and criticism.

And, just like our own game show, audience members can play along at home! FLD members will receive the text several weeks before the conference so they can try their own hand at tackling the text. It’s a doozy, full of clever word play and on a much-talked-about topic in worldwide news.

Who will reign supreme? Find out this November. Let’s get ready to rumble!

Eve Lindemuth Bodeux is the administrator of ATA’s French Language Division. She has been active in the language services industry since 1994. A French>English translator, her company, Bodeux International LLC, offers multilingual localization, translation, and project management services. She is the author of the book Maintaining Your Second Language: Practical and Productive Strategies for Translators, Teachers, Interpreters, and Other Language Lovers.

Andie Ho is a French>English translator with more than 20 years of experience in the food industry. She is an alumna of Kent State’s graduate translation program and began her career as a project manager before moving into translation full-time. Her background includes a bachelor’s degree in French, a minor in mathematics, a performance at Carnegie Hall, and a stint at a criminal forensics laboratory—all of which influences her translation work today.

Jenn Mercer is the assistant administrator of ATA’s French Language Division. A French>English translator, she has been translating professionally since 2008, specializing in legal, business, and financial translation. She is a past director of the Carolina Association of Translators and Interpreters (an ATA chapter). She has bachelor’s degrees in English (with a concentration in creative writing) and French from North Carolina State University, and a certificate in French>English translation from New York University. She has been published in The ATA Chronicle and has presented at ATA conferences twice before on acronym translation strategies and advanced search techniques.

How to Have a Super First Year in the ATA: The Mentoring Program

How to Have a Super First Year in the ATA: The Mentoring ProgramIn January 2015 I joined the American Translators Association for the first time and was ready to give it my all. When I logged into my online account with my shiny new member number and password, I felt like a deer in the headlights… How do I make the most of my membership? What resources are available to me? But most importantly, where do I start?

Thanks to all the resources and opportunities available through the ATA website, I got involved in the association as much as I could and closed 2015 feeling that my first year had been super great. I’m sure 2016 has already welcomed many new members to the ATA and I hope to provide some insight as to how to make the most of your year as a rookie through a series of blog posts with The Savvy Newcomer.

One of the first things I did as a new member was apply as a mentee for the Mentoring Program. This year’s deadline is March 5, 2016, so there’s no better time than now to get started on your application.

What is the Mentoring Program?

The program matches a mentee to a mentor for one year (April-March). Most matches are long-distance, so meetings are usually held online for one to two hours per month. If you’re just starting out in the business or are looking to make a career change and need a bit of extra guidance, the program is a great chance to get some extra help from someone with more business experience in the field.

How to Write a Winning Essay

The most important part of your application is writing a 400-word essay. Only 30 mentees are chosen to participate in the program, so you need to write one that makes you stand out. Emily Safrin, a 2015-2016 mentee, recommends staying focused on one or two realistic and measurable goals rather than a sweeping hope: “Not only does it help you as a mentee to be realistic and focused about what you want to achieve, but it also helps the committee to know that a candidate has a concrete plan that they will benefit from and not just a distant and shapeless dream.” Her specific goals included launching a website, creating an appropriate e-mail signature, connecting with direct clients, and setting and negotiating fair rates. “I now have my website and signature, as well as matching business cards,” she said.

In my essay, I specified my main goals as “how to get, work with and keep direct clients in the tourism and hospitality industry” and my secondary goals included improving my online presence and creating a rates chart with fair pricing for the American and Spanish markets. As you can see, being specific about what you want to do is key.

Mentees are in charge of setting the pace of the mentor-mentee relationship, keeping track of their goals and working on them, so make sure you also point out your strengths of working hard, following up and pulling through.

Benefits of Participating

The main thing to keep in mind is that you will get out as much as you put into the program. With her mentor’s help and encouragement, Emily cut off a bad relationship with an agency. “I feel like having [my mentor’s] support has helped me become braver and to create a vision for my career that I hope to see come to fruition in the coming years,” she said.

My mentor helped me see that I need to find a marketing tool that works for me. She pointed out that her main clients have come from encounters at museums or networking events, not from cold calling, emailing or paying office visits (which are all things I personally dread). She has encouraged me to be patient and to take time finding what works for me; a booming business doesn’t happen overnight.

All mentors and mentees also form part of a Yahoo Groups listserv, which is open to questions and discussion. I’ve gotten some great advice from other participants by directing questions to the entire group.

The mentoring program is a great opportunity to get some extra help and a push in the right direction from successful translators and interpreters. Why don’t you give it a try and apply?

To learn more details of what the program entails and find links to apply, please visit The Savvy Newcomer’s recent post on joining the ATA Mentoring Program.

Header image credit: Unsplash
Header image edited with Canva

Author bio

Molly Yurick

Molly 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: http://yuricktranslations.com

Need advice or want to share your wisdom? Join the ATA Mentoring Program!

ATA Mentoring programThe Mentoring Program is an ATA membership benefit. Any ATA member can apply to become a mentee; this is a valuable privilege many members don’t know they have. If there is some new skill you want to learn but don’t know how, this is a good place to come.

ATA counts many talented translators and interpreters who are experts in a wide variety of fields, including literature and music, quantum physics, pharmaceuticals, law, and even hand-written historical documents. How to deal with medical interpreting or voice-over assignments is taught just as easily as time management or finding the perfect balance between work and home. The ATA Mentoring Committee will track down one of these experts to be your mentor and help you put the next piece of your professional puzzle in its proper place.

The main objective of the Mentoring Program is to convey the business side of the translation and interpreting profession to the mentees. For this reason, we generally don’t pair mentees and mentors based on language. In fact, in most cases they will not share the same working languages. It is unlikely, therefore, that the mentor and mentee will get sidetracked by language-specific questions.

Mentoring Program Basics

ATA mentorships last for one year, beginning in April. Pairs are matched according to:

  • Application packet
  • Goals
  • Specializations the participants have included in the ATA directory
  • What we know about participants from ATA activities

Alternatively, you can also propose your own ready-made mentor-mentee pair.

What the mentee should know

  • Mentees and mentors are matched once a year. The Program is limited to about 30 pairs. It’s a one-year commitment.
  • Mentees are selected by a competitive application process that includes a short essay covering background, experience, and what the applicant hopes to achieve as a mentee.
  • Mentees should have a solid amount of work experience. This allows them to be very specific about what they want to learn from a mentor and follow the advice given.
  • Mentees are matched to mentors based on goals. They are never matched on the basis of working languages. Two to three actionable goals is ideal.
  • Mentee goals must be business-centered. Learning how to pass the ATA certification exam is not an acceptable goal.
  • Each member can participate only once. Therefore, mentees need to be able to make a one-year commitment. Anyone who drops out during the year will not be able to return during another year.
  • Mentees may have been in the business for a number of years, but now want to explore something new with a mentor’s help; for example, adding CAT tools to workflow.
  • ATA-certified mentees receive 2 CE points for the finished mentoring year.

Benefits for the mentor

  • Enjoy the satisfaction of helping a colleague
  • Challenge your assumptions
  • Discover latent talents
  • Expand your professional network (mentors have their own private group for discussions and support)
  • Think outside the box!
  • ATA-certified mentors receive 2 CE points for the year

After their introduction, the mentor and mentee will decide jointly on the modus operandi of the mentoring year, which begins in April and ends in March. It is the mentee’s responsibility to drive the mentoring relationship; that is, to set goals, stay in touch with the mentor, and establish measurable milestones. It is the mentor’s responsibility to provide advice and encouragement.

We have tremendous appreciation for our mentors who are volunteers drawn from the vast ATA membership. Translators and interpreters are artisans whose craft and business savoir-faire need to be not only honed but also shared. Like any other profession, the more accomplished members will retire sooner or later, and not necessarily because of age—and why not, since there are other things in life to explore, no matter how much we love our profession—and leave the younger members to carry on. As facilitators and transmitters of knowledge, mentors are an essential part of our profession. If you have the professional experience and the desire to be part of this heroic group, we would be delighted to hear from you.

During this year’s ATA Annual Conference in Miami, the Mentoring Committee presented a session entitled “How to Be a Happy and Prosperous Translator or Interpreter.” We discussed the Mentoring Program in more detail, as we have done at past conferences, but also discussed our own experiences in some of the topics that are of interest to newcomers, such as getting a fair price for your work and keeping the passion for your career alive in spite of circumstances that may spoil it.

Are you interested in the Mentoring Program and would like to learn more about becoming a mentor or mentee? Check out these links for more information and answers to FAQs about the program:

ATA Mentoring Program
Free webinar: The ATA Mentoring Program explained
Questions and answers from the ATA Mentoring Program Webinar
ATA Annual Conference mentoring session: Becoming a Happy and Prosperous Translator/Interpreter
ATA Mentee Statement Worksheet
ATA Mentor Statement Worksheet

For questions regarding the ATA Mentoring Program, please contact Cathi or Susanne at mentoring@atanet.org. Have you already participated in the Mentoring Program and want to share your experience? We’d love to hear from you!

Header image credit: Unsplash
Header image edited with Canva

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!

Top Five Benefits of Attending ATA’s 56th Annual Conference

By ATA’s President-Elect, David Rumsey
Republished from The ATA Chronicle, June 2015, with permission from the ATA

ATA56 badgeIt’s that time again to start thinking about your plans for ATA’s Annual Conference. This year’s conference is being held in Miami, Florida, November 4-7, 2015.

Maybe you’ve never attended, or maybe it’s been a while, but apart from the sunny weather and warm climes of Miami in November, it’s worth considering being part of the experience for the following five reasons alone!

Expand Your Network: Past conference surveys indicate repeatedly that the opportunity to network is one of the biggest draws for attendees. For many people, this means reconnecting with old friends—the people who understand you and the challenges you face as a translator or interpreter. But there are excellent opportunities to network with both clients as well as other translators and interpreters through innovative events like Brainstorm Networking and the Résumé Exchange.

As the number of translators and interpreters advertising via the Internet and social media grows, the one-on-one connections that you can make in person at the conference become increasingly valuable. For instance, staying in the conference hotel, in the center of the “action,” is one of the best ways to ensure you stay well connected.

Learn a New Skill: With over 175 sessions across 25 different topics, including various languages and specializations, the conference offers something for everyone. Veteran attendees know that the best way to get something out of the conference is to push your boundaries and attend a session or seminar that you hadn’t considered before. Sharpening existing skills and exploring new areas to grow are the key to success as a freelance translator or interpreter.

Invest in New Tools: For many attendees, the Exhibit Hall is the highlight of the conference. Here you’ll find a variety of vendors specializing in equipment, products, and programs in translation and interpreting. Products and services run the gamut from the newest and greatest CAT tool, to specialized dictionaries and databases, to headsets and other equipment for interpreters. Recruiting agencies are also included in the exciting mix.

Get Involved! ATA has nearly 10,000 members, making it one of the largest associations in the world for translators and interpreters. Attending the Annual Conference gives you the chance to understand how the organization works and how you can apply your skills to help the Association grow even larger.

There are a host of different activities organized by each individual division at ATA and by representatives from local chapters. There are also a number of sessions devoted entirely to various ATA programs— everything from School Outreach to preparing for the certification exam.

Re-energize Your Career: Let’s face it. Translators and interpreters are perhaps some of the most misunderstood knowledge-professionals out there. There aren’t many people who can relate to the issues we face. We’re asked increasingly to do more, to be faster, and to be more cost efficient. It can all be quite discouraging at times.

Getting out from behind the computer or interpreting booth and spending a few days at the conference to pick up ideas, knowledge, and skills is one of the best investments you can make. The time away from the office can give us a fresh perspective on old problems and leave us feeling re-energized and rewarded. So, when the e-mail arrives in your inbox to register for ATA’s 56th Annual Conference in Miami, seize the moment. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain—including a few days in sunny Miami.

Make sure to keep checking ATA’s conference website for updates. See you there!

Go National or Stay Local?

by Giovanna Lester
in collaboration with The Savvy Newcomer Team

Full disclosure: I am one of the co-founders and currently the president of the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Florida (ATIF), an ATA Chapter. I am also a teacher, a mother and a grandmother. I am starting to see a pattern…

office-331738_1280Joining a professional organization is an investment in one’s career and must be properly assessed. Take a look at the benefits package and the group’s reach. If it is a local entity, is it affiliated with a larger entity that will give you national or international exposure? Don’t forget to check what is expected of you as a member and what your rights are. The answers to the latter questions can sometimes be found in the entity’s bylaws, which groups often make available on their websites. When reading the bylaws, make sure to have your questions ready, and search for the specific answers. This will focus and expedite your reading.

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