ATA Conference Recap

By Jamie HartzATA 57th Annual Conference

It’s been just over two weeks since the 57th Annual American Translators Association Conference ended, and we’re excited to report that it was, once again, a blast.

This year’s highlights included Brainstorm Networking, an event where colleagues meet to discuss business practices-related scenarios in a quick but fun setting; the Job Fair, featuring a number of agencies searching for vendors as well as freelancers looking for work; and of course, Buddies Welcome Newbies.

At this year’s session, we focused on topics such as handing out business cards, choosing what sessions to go to, and conference etiquette. At the Wednesday session we also distributed a “passport” and asked Newbies to interact with as many ATA Divisions and local chapters as they could, collecting “stamps” for their passports.

For those of you who missed the Buddies Welcome Newbies introduction session or would like a copy of the presentation, see below:

Our Buddies Welcome Newbies debrief session on Saturday involved an interactive discussion of methods for following up with contacts, with great suggestions from both Newbies and Buddies alike. We’d like to thank Wordfast and Johns Benjamins Publishing Company for their contributions of prizes to the most-filled Newbie passports: a Wordfast Pro license and two translation and interpreting resource books, respectively. We appreciate your support!

Readers, did you attend the Buddies Welcome Newbies or any other great sessions this year? We’d love to hear about your experience!

Buddies Welcome Newbies at #ATA57

by Jamie Hartz

ATA 57th Annual ConferenceIf 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 San Francisco 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 has grown by leaps and bounds since – attracting a few hundred 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. 2).
  • After the 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. 5 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!). 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 we’ll be sure to address these at the session): learn new skills, meet people, network, learn more about my field, get tips from a friendly colleague on choosing sessions, I’m introverted, learn how to make the most of the conference.

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.

Have 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 57th ATA conference can post their questions and concerns: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/atanewbies57/info.

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

How to Get the Most Out of the ‘Buddies Welcome Newbies’ Program at the ATA Conference

ATA 56th Annual Conference #ata56 Miamiby Helen Eby

This post contains some of the information we provide in a presentation for the Buddies Welcome Newbies program we hold the day before the conference (Wednesday). Our goal is to help you think about how to prepare for the conference. We hope these tips will serve you well at other networking events too.

Why did we start Buddies Welcome Newbies?

  1. Because it’s fun! We love getting to know you.
  2. Because, truth be told, I was scared when I came to my first conference. And my second. And my third. And people kept saying, “Hi, Helen, so nice to put a face to your name!” No matter. The crowds intimidated me. So this is to give you exactly the kind of help and tips I would have liked to have had back then.
  3. Because we think people of courage should get a nice welcome mat rolled out for them! It takes a whole lot of courage to come across the country to face over 1,000 strangers!
  4. Because we believe we have a lot to learn from those who come to the ATA conference. As Buddies, we expect to learn from you!

Buddies Welcome Newbies is something we dreamed up right at the same time we conceived The Savvy Newcomer. Both are resources for people starting out in the field. One is a resource for networking. The other is an online resource. But the same people run it, which keeps the online resource real. In our mind, they are two sides of the same coin.

Travel light! Carry as little as possible.

  1. Your smartphone, for the ATA conference app.
  2. A small notebook. I like the Moleskine notebooks.
  3. Business cards. Never leave home without them.
  4. Your wallet, because you’ll probably impulsively take off for coffee with someone.
  5. Your room key and ATA conference lanyard/ID. We’ll show you the most effective way to use it.
  6. A pen! Electronic notes are not the answer to everything, folks… We process things differently with a pen.
  7. Emergency rations if you can fit them in, but there is fruit and coffee at the coffee breaks.
  8. Your bag should be as small as you can get away with so you can just grab it in one swoop and move on quickly. You don’t want to be the one who forgets your stuff in the session because you changed your mind about what session you wanted to be in!

What sessions should I go to?

  • I find that I learn a lot from what I expected to disagree with, so I make sure I go to at least one session per conference that I expect to thoroughly disagree with—I mean learn a lot from, of course. Those are great! As an interpreter, I was skeptical about online training. I went to a joint session by some online interpreting trainers, and they convinced me they had worked out important kinks and it was an important option for some of our members.
  • Go to a session about something thoroughly impractical. Relax! Open your mind! After all, this is a conference. You never know when this other material might come in handy. It might even be a session in a language that isn’t yours. I went to a session on literary translation into Hebrew once. It was fascinating! I learned that literary translation skills help us in all fields.
  • I attend presentations of speakers I want to encourage, especially they are my friends. So, go to your Buddy’s presentation, or to a presentation given by someone else you connect with along the way! After the presentation, have lunch or send the speaker an email with your thoughts.
  • And last but not least,, sessions on topics you are interested in should always be on your list.
  • During the sessions, keep in mind that the people next to you are interested in the same things you care about. Watch for people who ask interesting questions and strike up a conversation with them right after the session. Exchange cards with them. Those could be your best contacts! Sometimes I even quietly move to where they are during the session and give them my card to make sure we connect before they leave. I figure if this can happen at the Capitol, I can do it at the ATA, right?

With all these great choices, you will surely be able to fit in at least one session with your Newbie or Buddy, regardless of your respective languages, specialties, etc.!

The conference is hectic, so take time to relax.

  • Go to your room for a nap.
  • Take a walk on the beach.
  • Go to an art gallery.
  • Hang out with a new friend over coffee, during a session.

Just don’t obsess about being there every minute of every day. If you do, you will be so tired you won’t actually be able to take advantage of it. Take breaks, and the best breaks are actually during the sessions. I’ve been known to go off to visit friends who live in town during a session, especially if they are totally disconnected from the interpreting and translation field. Or loiter the halls networking with other attendees playing hooky.

And make sure you sleep well!

Networking is a very powerful tool.

However, it is often misunderstood. You have to use it wisely, appropriately and professionally. Be aware of these guidelines:

  1. Thou shalt not just count cards. It is not just a question of seeing how many people you meet, but of establishing relationships with people you can count on.
  2. Thou shalt give without expecting reciprocation. It is an investment of time, energy, sharing ideas and resources without expecting anything in return.
  3. Skilled networking will put you a step ahead of the competition: People do business with people they know, like and trust.
    • Know what you want and need.
    • Know who you need it from. Anyone you might want to meet or contact is only 4 or 5 people away from you. Your contacts will recommend you to their contacts.
    • Know who you are and what you do
      • Be an expert in your field
      • Be able to clearly and quickly tell others what you do. If you can’t explain it, why would they trust you with it?
      • Become a resource for others.
      • Be the best professional you can be. It will show.

Networking is something we learn how to do. Many of us are shy—even interpreters, who are used to expressing the ideas of others. Here are some clues:

  • Watch those in the room who look effective, and try taking a page out of their book.
  • Get to the room early and stay late.
  • Establish a goal, e.g. today I will hand out three cards to people I had not met before.
  • Start easy, maybe with people you feel it’s OK to not do a great job introducing yourself to. You’ll see it goes great! They will introduce you to others, and you will start to introduce others yourself.
  • Bring lots of business cards, but don’t be handing them out every time you shake someone’s hand.
  • Dress professionally.
  • Wear a nametag high and on the right hand side. As you shake hands, the person’s eyes will be drawn to your name.
  • Stand by the food line. It’s a great place to chat with people.
  • Start by focusing on others. Be genuine. Ask why they are here, how you can help them. After you get to know them, you might find a way to help them, or maybe you will decide to tell them your services aren’t quite what they need, and you might send them to someone else. They’ll remember your honesty. People work with people they know, like, and trust!
  • Be involved. When you commit to something, follow through. Remember, volunteering is a great way to build your reputation as a professional!
  • Be consistent. Attend as often as you can. People like to know they can count on you. People work with people they know, like, and trust!
  • Don’t sound like a tape recorder! It’s great to have an elevator speech, but I will never forget the guy who I noticed gave exactly the same forty-second speech every time he shook hands with people… When he shook mine, I just didn’t feel connected. Being a good listener and asking plenty of pertinent questions will give you a better idea of who you are speaking to and how to present yourself, as well as make you more authentic.
  • If you want to meet someone specific, ask for an introduction. Someone will know someone who can introduce you.

Confused?

Yes, it’s easy to feel lost. So please, in the crowd of 1500 people, 180 sessions, 3 days of non-stop excitement…

Relax. Remember why you came. Maybe you might have it written in the front of that Moleskine notebook you carry around. Check it and see if you are on track with that.

Keep notes. Most of us don’t remember most of what we think we are going to remember. “Yes, I’ll call you later.” Especially now that people have some much information in the app, it’s easy to trust the app to remember it all for us. I still write it in my notebook. “Just a minute. Let me write this down. ‘Call Mary Jane Brown, from Texas, about how she studies medical terminology.’” Now you can have a way to really get back to her! She will love knowing that you care enough to make sure you don’t forget.

Then… follow up! Write to Mary Jane:

Dear Mary, it was great to meet you at the conference. I was really curious about what you said about medical terminology. I’ve been studying in some crazy ways, but I never ran across your method, and you said you had a description written down. Could you please send it to me? I think it will really help me solve some of the translation problems I run into. By the way, would you like to work with me on some of the translations I do? Maybe you could review some of my work, and we could see how it goes.”

Bingo! You probably got a new partner! Because Mary would rather review the work of someone who respects her opinion and who she trusts than someone else.

Give lots of referrals:

Dear Mary, as I was talking to Joe at the ATA conference, I realized he is working on exactly the same problem you are trying to solve. I think if you and Joe got together you would do great work. Why don’t you connect with him? His contact information is in the app. Tell him I mentioned him, because I was talking to him about you today. I hope it goes well!

Then others will give you referrals, and you thank them:

Dear Peter, thanks so much for recommending me to Client X! The work I did for them was incredibly interesting, and I believe this relationship will last a long time. Thank you so much for trusting me with such a great job! I will keep you in mind in the future, and I really appreciate this! The next coffee at Starbucks is on me, buddy! Let’s catch up and compare notes on the work we are doing.

Just remember this. Networking isn’t just about you. It’s about connecting with your community. As you connect, you will see where you fit in, and will be able to serve others better and wow them.

So don’t start with your pitch before knowing anything about the person you are talking to. Listen first. Look for ways to be helpful. You’ll get your chance. And enjoy the process of getting to know others.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” -Dale Carnegie

We hope these pointers help you in your networking events as you visit local conferences with your ATA chapters, ATA affiliates and other groups, local chambers of commerce, and other groups you might decide to go hang out with. Go connect!

Why be a buddy?

By Helen Ebybuddies

At my first ATA conference, back in Denver, I felt overwhelmed by the newness of it all. My roommate, however, acted as a buddy. She was great!  I met her through the Roommate Finder, so she was a total stranger. We didn’t share a language, a specialty, or anything of that nature. Just a desire to have a quiet room.

It’s easier for me to overcome my shyness when I have a task.  The Spanish Division was looking for volunteers to count ballots, and I signed up. I met a few people right away, the first day.

Our buddies/newbies sessions are going to be quite interactive so we can share some practical things with newcomers and help them feel more comfortable at the Conference. As buddies participate in the interaction, they will gain new insight.

Frequent questions:

Isn’t there a mentor program already?

Being a buddy is a short-term commitment, just for the conference. It is not a mentorship program. The mentor program matches people up carefully, and the duration is one year. We match people randomly as available, and the commitment is just for the conference.

Aren’t you asking for too much from these pairs? You have to be flexible, you know…

Though there are several activities we think would benefit newbies and buddies, each pair can decide what fits them best. There are no requirements. Only suggestions.

Doesn’t Jill Sommer already have an orientation for first time attendees? And they already have ribbons…

Yes! Jill and Corinne have a session on Thursday at 11:30, and we will encourage people to go to that session as well. We are working as a team, and both of them are on our buddies list and on the listserv! By offering several alternatives, newcomers can be supported in whatever way works best for them.

We have asked buddies what they expect from the program. They have said:

  • To help newbies to get the most out of the ATA Conference–so they might want to contribute more to the ATA in future.
  • To share knowledge with newcomers.
  • Already a mentor, so this is an extension…
  • To help a newbie learn the ropes and feel welcome at the conference.
  • An opportunity to help someone.
  • Encourage newbies to become more involved than just receiving The Chronicle.
  • Help make newcomers welcome in ATA and assist them in having a great first conference.
  • To be helpful to a future colleague.
  • It will be fun to meet someone new and to share experiences/introduce this person to colleagues and to get new ideas from someone new to the conference or profession. There is always something to learn on both sides of the equation!

So, please join us! Registration is recommended, but is not mandatory. Walk-ins are definitely welcome at any of the sessions. However, registration will help us know what to expect. Just click on “Sign up” and we’ll take it from there! http://www.atanet.org/conf/2013/newbies.htm

If you’d like to help newbies with their questions before and immediately after the conference, please join this listserv: http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/atanewbies54/info

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.