Buddies Welcome Newbies at #ATA58

This year, Buddies Welcome Newbies celebrates its fifth anniversary, and as part of the celebrations, the team is introducing a few new surprises!

After its debut in San Antonio in 2013, led by Helen Eby and Jamie Hartz, Buddies Welcome Newbies has grown to become a well-known event right before the Welcome Celebration of the ATA conference. Designed as an ice breaker for those attending the conference for the first – or even the second – time, it is the place to get your gears in motion, in a fun, comfortable way.

Buddies Welcome Newbies (BWN) is a part of The Savvy Newcomer, where we are constantly innovating, and putting new ideas to the test. New this year is Jamie’s role as official leader of the BWN program, with yours truly in a supporting role.

Based on our experience from previous years, we approached ATA Headquarters and suggested including BWN as part of the event choices in the registration form, instead of having a separate link, page, etc. Fast forward to now and the results are amazing: More than 300 attendees registered as of today!

However, if you missed that one question during registration, and are interested in being a part of this event, do not despair! We will be happy to send you a link to register. Just send us an email at atasavvynewcomer@atanet.org, and we will get back with you.

Another novelty this year is the unveiling of our new seasonal blog ATA Conference Newcomer Blog, packed with resources for newbies and buddies alike. We thought waiting until Wednesday the 25th to share the myriad of things we want to tell you was kind of mean, plus, we could not possibly do it in 45 minutes! So, check it out, if you have not done so already, and be sure to leave us a comment to let us know how we are doing.

Also new in this fifth edition of Newbies Welcome Buddies is the opportunity to earn 2.0 CEPs by participating as a Buddy! But, as the saying goes: “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke,” so the core of the BWN event continues to be the same.

What is Buddies Welcome Newbies, you ask? The answer is simple:

A Newbie is anyone who is new to the American Translators Association, to translation or interpreting in general, or a new conference attendee.

Buddies are the life of this event – experienced conference attendees, many of them seasoned T&I professionals, who donate their time and expertise for the benefit of Newbies. All our planning, ideas, and enthusiasm would mean nothing if we did not have the support of our awesome Buddies to make all this a reality.

During our opening session, Buddies and Newbies are paired up (the final ratio of Buddies to Newbies will depend on the number of participants in attendance), and off they go to enjoy the conference with the following “assignments”:

  • 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 October 28, for even more great information on what to do next and to hear presentations from guest speakers.

Pretty simple, huh? Yet, very powerful, as it can make a big difference in the life of new conference attendees, and who knows, maybe make a friend or two in the process.Of course, we have a few more surprises up our sleeves so you will have to come to both the opening session and the wrap-up to see the magic for yourself!

See you soon in D.C.!

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.


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!

ATA Conference through the eyes of Newbies & Buddies

By The Savvy Newcomer Team

comments-150276_1280It has been almost two weeks since we all returned from Chicago, but it already feels like the ATA Conference was a long time ago. Every year, those wonderful four days fly by in the blink of an eye, and attendees (all 1842 of them this year!) will find themselves looking for e-memorabilia to remember and relive the highlights of the conference, reaching out to new contacts, sending notes to fellow colleagues who they had the opportunity to reconnect with – or even meet in person for the first time, like part of The Savvy Newcomer team!

Today, we want to contribute to the wealth of posts, tweet summaries, photo galleries, and even a video, of this year’s conference by sharing with you some of the comments we received about the Buddies Welcome Newbies event.

Last year, Buddies Welcome Newbies created a big buzz and received great reviews, but it was also acknowledged that there was room for improvement. Therefore, the team has begun looking at the opportunities created by past experience this year, and they also knew what to expect and prepared for it. The result: a hugely successful event!

If you were not able to attend #ata55 this year, we hope you find inspiration in the following selection of comments and that you will join us next year – whether as a newbie or as a buddy. We promise either way you will get hooked and will make it a regular on your conference calendar in the years to come!

See you in Miami!

 Buddies/Newbies program was SUPER helpful! There is so much that goes on during these 3 days, its fabulous to get insight from an experienced conference goer.

I just want to take this minute to thank you for the unforgettable experience I had at the ATA Conference; at first, I was extremely nervous, to say the least, but meeting you made a huge difference. You made me feel at ease, and part of the group; I felt I was not only a Newbie, but another member of the family. I have a greater respect for the field and I want to get as much knowledge and skills as possible, in order to honor the organization and the translators & interpreters that are making this world a better place to communicate

I loved the program! I was paired up with John DiRico and he was an awesome buddy, even though I know nothing about Wordfast 🙂  I also loved the fact that there were 2 newbies to a buddy. I spent a lot of time with my co-newbie.

I really enjoyed the conference. I thought it was a great experience, and I look forward to coming again next year!  I thought the newbies and buddies program was pretty useful! It was nice to meet a few people on the first night of the conference. I would suggest coming up with a more organized method to pair up newbies and buddies.

The information shared was wonderful and it was such a helpful experience. My first ATA conference would not have been the same otherwise.

After spending 3 days at ATA55 now I realize that I should have taken advantage of the resources available to newbies. I was not prepared as well as I could have been, and newbies next year can learn from my mistake of feeling lonely and at a loss for the first day.

It (the newbies/buddies program) was very helpful. I didn’t follow up with my buddy after the initial session (but I did say hi in the hall). It was really nice to talk to him in that first session – it made the conference less intimidating. Thanks!

I really appreciated the Newbies-Buddies program. Reading about it made me feel welcomed before the Conference even began, and the opening session brought me not one but many friendly faces to say “Hello” to during the next few days. My buddy, could not have been more kind and helpful, and checked on me every day. Thank you so much for your kindness and thoughtfulness in putting this program together!