Almost show time!

Can you believe the Annual Conference is less than 24 hours away? We can’t wait to see you tomorrow at 4:45 in the IBR West Room at the Washington Hilton. But before taking off to D.C., we thought we’d touch base one last time.

In the last couple of days, we’ve received a few emails from people who are unable to make it to tomorrow’s opening session. Though we may not be able to pair you with a Newbie or Buddy at this point, we have a couple of suggestions:

  • For Saturday-only first-time attendees, we will have a table at the hotel’s continental breakfast marked “Newbies” and you’re more than welcome to join us there. Breakfast is from 7:30am to 8:15am at the International Terrace.
  • Our wrap-up session will be on Saturday at 12:30, at the IBR East. Even if you couldn’t make it to the opening session, our debriefing will be packed with useful information to help you process and organize all the information and contacts you’ve made in the last few days.

Also, please keep in mind we might not be able to answer questions via email. We will not be monitoring our email as often during the conference, but we’ll be sure to get back with you next week.

And finally, before closing your suitcase, don’t forget to include:

  • A tote bag or backpack to comfortably carry any handouts, brochures, pen, notepad, tablet or small laptop, and personal items during the conference. A water bottle and granola bar or similar snack would also be good additions to your bag. But above all: Be sure to travel light! Please remember conference tote bags have been retired.
  • Your business cards, and copies of your résumé or any other business material you’d like to distribute to your new contacts or to potential employers.
  • Comfortable shoes.
  • Loads of enthusiasm and a positive attitude!

This is our last post before the conference, but we’ll be back next week with some post-conference thoughts before this blog goes into hibernation until next year!

Over and out.

My Routines for Transportation in an Unknown City

Helen Eby, frequent intercontinental traveler and conference-goer, shares her tips on how to prepare for a visit to a new city, a few indispensable apps, and what you should know about getting around DC in particular.

Familiarizing yourself with transportation is key when visiting a new city. I look for apps on my iPhone that provide support for public transportation. Today there are apps for subway maps, bus maps, train routes, train ticketing, and even light-rail ticketing. Some of the apps I will be using in DC are DC Metro Map and iTrans DC Metro.

No matter where you are, Google Maps is indispensable for general navigation. Taxi drivers abroad even use this app for directions, and it has excellent information on how to connect with public transportation.

My first stop when I get off the plane is the information desk in the baggage claim area. They often sell loaded cards for the subway system and can tell you where the nearest stop is. They also tell you which subway line to take to get to your hotel and can provide paper maps of the city. Alternatively, they can recommend the cheapest shuttle for getting to the hotel or to a taxi stand. I often take a taxi, because I don’t always want to walk around alone in an unfamiliar city with suitcases.

I also contact the hotel ahead of time to ask them what the best way to get to the hotel is. The front-desk staff has that answer memorized! (Bonus app: Hilton Honors, which offers a digital key to your room!)

For affordable alternatives to taxis, check out apps like Uber and Lyft. Download the app before your trip to explore your options and avoid having to find wifi or use data to download the app when you land. (The app automatically detects your location using GPS, but you can manually set your pickup spot and destination to investigate pricing and travel time in advance.)

A word of warning: Shuttles are often less expensive, but they make lots of stops before you get to your destination. In one city, my 20-minute ride lasted an hour and a half. I got off the plane late at night and ended up wishing I had paid for the added convenience. Ask first. In big cities like Madrid and New York, I take a taxi to the hotel, but on the way from the hotel to the train or the airport, I might do things differently (by then, I’ve gotten my bearings.)

Rush-hour traffic in Washington, DC can be either a nightmare or a spectacle worth watching, depending on your perspective, because of the motorcades for government officials. On my last trip, a 15-minute taxi ride took 45 minutes. This time I am using the subway.

When taking the trains, there are often many lines using the same track. The locals know exactly how to identify them. I ask them to help me, because I have ended up in the wrong place before.

I make sure I have good walking shoes. If something is five blocks away or even 10, I am more likely to walk than use a transportation system I’m unfamiliar with. After all, this is faster than walking to the stop, waiting for the train or the bus, and then walking to your destination.

As for DC, the city redefines the city block—government buildings are huge and can take up a whole DC block. On that note, if you visit any government offices, check your pedometer after visiting several offices in the same building! Let’s just say many people who work there have comfortable shoes. Leave the hotel with what you can carry easily for a good walk! If you are sightseeing, keep in mind water fountains can be few and far between. You might want to have a way to carry a water bottle. And check the weather to see if you’ll need an umbrella. No one likes being wet and cold!

I always arrive at conference cities a day early to get my bearings, get over jet lag, take in a few sights, find my favorite restaurants, and just feel relaxed. I often meet other attendees, and we do some sightseeing together. No business talk; we are in “off” mode. It’s also nice to stay after the conference. Going to DC and not seeing the Smithsonian, for example, would be a real pity. Last year I went to the Congreso San Jerónimo in Guadalajara and saw the book fair and attended the conference, but didn’t see the city at all. I really missed out. (I was rushed because I was getting ready for my daughter’s wedding two weeks later!) This year, I’m making up for it by taking an extra week in Guadalajara with my husband. I can hardly wait to get to know the city better in November!

But for now, DC awaits. See you at the conference!

Helen Eby, prolific conference-goer

Helpful Tips from the Slavic Division

Excerpt from How to Tackle an ATA Conference by Natalie Mainland (Reblogged from the Slavic Division blog with permission)

[…] I have to admit, I wasn’t sure about attending the 2016 ATA conference. I have a degree in translation and have been translating for a few years now, so I didn’t know how useful it would be, and I am—like I think many translators are—extremely introverted. Given the choice between getting a root canal or chatting up a room full of people I don’t know, I’ll take the root canal, please. However, I keep in touch with my former classmates, and not a single one of them has said that attending the conference was a waste of time or resources. I wasn’t sure if going would be helpful, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.

What next? Well, my personal philosophy is to always have a plan. Once I’d decided to attend the conference I immediately started planning so I could get the most out of it. I had a look at the first-timer’s guide in the ATA’s “Savvy Newcomer” blog, downloaded the conference app, and immediately began organizing my schedule. By the time I landed in San Francisco, I had each day planned for (supposedly) optimum effectiveness.

Educational sessions held throughout the day are organized into subject-specific tracks and are a major part of the conference. I’m trying to expand my business, so I planned to attend sessions in the “Independent Contractor” track. These were great, and I picked up tips and tricks for getting more work and running my business smoothly, but by the second afternoon I was feeling burnt out…so I decided to change things up. I went to a few medical sessions, even though they focused on language pairs other than mine. Were they helpful? You bet! Although the target language examples didn’t apply to me, I still learned strategies to improve my medical translations. Overall, I’m pleased with how much I learned, and in the months after the conference I even put that knowledge to use when I worked on a large medical project.

The other major part of the conference is networking, and that’s the part that worried me. I went to the Welcome Celebration on the first night, where everyone from the ATA divisions can mingle and learn more about one another, and I honestly felt a bit like a deer in the headlights. However, the whole process became markedly easier when I realized one obvious thing: everyone else is here to network, too!  They want to meet new people and talk with them, and all the people that I spoke with were wonderfully welcoming. After making it through that first hectic evening, everything else—such as talking to agency reps in the Exhibit Hall—was no problem at all.

Now for the big question: do I think going to the conference was worth it? I absolutely do. I picked up new skills and met other people working in my field. This profession can be a solitary one, and having actual, face-to-face contact with other humans was, for me, one of the best parts of the entire experience.

So, now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you to go, what are my suggestions for your first conference?

Go. I was on the fence about going, but I’m glad I did. Although I’m no neophyte, I still learned a lot of things that will help me improve my craft. I also met a multitude of wonderful and interesting people, and found new prospects for my work.

Leave. Just because you’re at the conference doesn’t mean you need to attend every single event. In fact, that’s a good way to wear yourself out. At the conference in San Francisco, none of the early morning events made my ‘must-do’ list, so every morning I took a walk along the bay instead. Not only did I get fresh air and exercise, I also got a chance to take a break from being ‘on’ all the time. This helped me recharge and gave me the energy to do all the other things that I wanted to do.

Participate. If you’re introverted, never fear! There are plenty of ways for you to make connections without having to walk into a crowd of strangers and start cold. I signed up for the “Buddies Welcome Newbies” program, which partnered me with an experienced translator and conference-goer (hi Jen!) who showed me the ropes. She answered my questions, introduced me to people in the division, and was a very welcome familiar face in a sea of strangers. I also attended division events. The great thing about this is that people in the division know each other and know that you’re new, and they really do go out of their way to be welcoming. My worries of being the silent person standing awkwardly in the corner never materialized.

Ditch the plan. Or rather, be willing to ditch the plan. I had my entire conference schedule laid out before I stepped off the plane. Yet, some of the best experiences happened when I deviated from that schedule—skipping a mass networking event to go to dinner with some newfound colleagues, for example.

All in all, my first conference was a resounding success. I’m glad I went, and I would encourage anyone else to do the same.

 

Excerpt from How to Survive Your First ATA Conference by Jen Guernsey (Reblogged from the Slavic Division blog with permission)

[…] Actually, you aren’t going to SURVIVE it, you’re going to LOVE it! Below are some tips that will make it a little easier for you to hit the ground running. […]

So, prospective newbies, here is your pre-conference to-do list:

1) Register for the conference BY OCTOBER 6 to take advantage of lower rates. [This date has passed but it’s not too late to still register for the conference!]

2) Download the conference app. I find it very helpful for planning my conference and finding event locations. You can input your resume and other profile info to help both colleagues and prospective employers find you.

3) Review the conference program to get an idea of the sessions and events you’d like to attend. A list of presentations in the Slavic languages track and by SLD members can be found in the SlavFile Preview.

4) Join Buddies Welcome Newbies to be paired up with an experienced conference-goer who will show you the ropes. Many newbies mention this helpful program, scheduled for Wednesday 4:45-5:30 (Debriefing Saturday 12:30-1:30) http://www.atanet.org/conf/2017/newbies/. […]

And while at the conference:

1) Wear your pink First Time Attendee ribbon with pride. It will spark a lot of conversations…kind of like wearing a “Please Welcome Me” sign on your forehead…but more comfortable.

2) Come to the Welcome Celebration. It is huge! It is crowded! It is loud! It is daunting! Never fear—just seek out the table marked SLD [or another division you’re interested in]. You will encounter some familiar names, soon to be familiar faces, and introduce yourself. Plus, hey, free food and a couple of drinks. Wednesday 5:30-7:00 […]

Working the Exhibit Hall

Over the years, I have come to realize that new conference attendees may perceive the Exhibit Hall as a vast, unknown territory. People often don’t know what to make of it. Is it the conference watering hole—a place to fill up on water, coffee and tea? A farmers’ market made up of T&I merchants selling their ingenious products and wares? Endless rows of booths from T&I companies and agencies looking for new talent? Oh—wait—and there is an area where you can meet and sit down with experts from CAT tool companies who can answer your technical questions and help you with that CAT-tool conundrum you’ve been suffering over … It’s true, I’m not making this up.

Let’s call it the Diagon Alley of the T&I industry, only missing a few elves walking around (hm… no, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen those too). For the sake of readers who may not be Harry Potter enthusiasts, the Exhibit Hall is the place to be to get the scoop on the latest technologies available to T&I professionals, trends, books, products, and, of course, to meet agency representatives, and even schools offering T&I courses.

But how to peruse the Exhibit Hall? Switching from being a potential customer at a CAT-tool booth, to being informally interviewed by an agency representative in the next booth can be a bit nerve-racking. Having a plan is the key.

In my early years as a conference attendee, I developed a “system” to go through the Exhibit Hall in a calm, organized manner that allows me to make the most of my time there.

The night I arrive, I take the finalized conference program (the actual paper copy) and study the floor plan to see which companies are in the Exhibit Hall. Then, I make note of the booths I’m interested in visiting by circling them and organizing them into two categories: products I’m interested in buying (CAT tools, books, equipment), and people I want to meet (whether it is a company I already work for but have never met any representative for in person, an agency I’m interested in contacting, or a T&I program/certificate I’m considering taking).

Based on the number of circles I have in each category, I choose two timeslots on two different days to skip a session (gasp!) and visit the Exhibit Hall. This might seem sacrilegious at first, but you will soon realize that during coffee breaks and lunch, the Exhibit Hall resembles a trading post, and it will be quite a feat to get any quality time at the booths. By visiting the Exhibit Hall when most conference attendees are in sessions, you will maximize your chances to have quiet, productive conversations with the folks you’re interested in meeting. Get a glimpse of what the Exhibit Hall will look like by checking out this year’s exhibitors.

I allocate between one hour and 45 minutes on two different days to visit the Exhibit Hall, and voilà—I’m done! A word of caution: some booths close early on Saturday, as it is the final day of the conference, so be sure to find your timeslot early if you are a Saturday-only attendee or are otherwise planning to visit the Exhibit Hall on Saturday.

Another tip for the Exhibit Hall is to keep your business cards handy, but not so handy that it looks like you’re at a Pokémon-card exchange. And you will be wise not to hand out your résumé as though it were a “lost dog” poster. These days, many companies are not interested in hauling reams of résumés back to the office after the conference. Instead, they may give you a link to a page where you can register and upload your résumé or ask for your business card and exchange contact information, while yet others may, indeed, ask for a résumé. But don’t assume everybody wants a paper copy of your résumé.

One of my favorite areas in the Exhibit Hall is the Tool Support Stations. This relatively new feature of the Exhibit Hall—introduced only a few years ago—is a cool way to meet with tech-support people from different CAT tools to get questions answered and issues resolved. This is a hands-on meeting, so be sure to bring your laptop to show them whatever it is that is troubling you.

The Exhibit Hall is a very dynamic area, and as such, it’s always changing. Every year I look forward to seeing what’s new, meeting new people, and greeting long-time friends.

Frequently Asked Questions about Buddies Welcome Newbies

Conference questions

Q: Do all events take place at the Washington Hilton?

A: All official conference events do, but some divisions or organizations may hold special events outside the hotel. Some of these have an additional cost and others are by invitation only; check out your favorite division’s website or stop by exhibit hall booths to learn more.

Q: Do I need to register in advance for the Thursday through Saturday sessions?

A: Nope! Wednesday AST sessions require advance registration and an additional fee, but Thursday through Saturday sessions are ‘come one, come all.’

Buddies Welcome Newbies questions

Q: How did I get signed up to be a Buddy/Newbie, or how do I sign up if I haven’t already?

A: Buddy/Newbie signups appeared as a checkbox on the conference registration form this year; if you received an email and did not intend to sign up, you can disregard it or feel free to join us anyway. If you did not sign up but would like to participate, you can email us at atasavvynewcomer@atanet.org and we will register you, or you can just show up at the Buddies Welcome Newbies session on Wednesday 10/25 at 4:45pm to meet a Buddy/Newbie. Registration is encouraged but not required.

Q: Do I need to be an expert to be a Buddy, or a newcomer to the profession to be a Newbie?

A: No, these designations just refer to your status at the conference — you may be relatively young but have attended more than one conference before and would make a great Buddy, or you may have 30 years of translation experience but have never attended an ATA conference, making you a Newbie.

Q: What if I got the Newbie email but I’m really a Buddy (or vice versa)?

A: No problem — just make sure that on Wednesday when you arrive at the session, you choose a red ribbon for Buddy or a green ribbon for Newbie.

Q: Can I pair up with a Buddy or Newbie I already know?

A: Sure! Just attend the session together so you can sit near each other.

Q: What if I cannot make it to the Wednesday Buddies Welcome Newbies session but will be arriving on Wednesday night or Thursday morning and still want to connect with a Buddy/Newbie?

A: Reach out to us before the conference starts at atasavvynewcomer@atanet.org and we will try to pair you up with a Buddy/Newbie ahead of time who will also be arriving after the session.

Q: Can I attend the Buddies Welcome Newbies introduction session (Wednesday) if I am only registered for the conference for one day (Saturday)?

A: Unfortunately this event is only open to full conference attendees, but if you are only attending the conference Saturday we’d love to see you at the Buddies Welcome Newbies wrap-up/debrief at 12:30pm. Check your conference program for more details. We also invite you to meet our resident Buddy Extraordinaire, Helen Eby, who has graciously offered to adopt any Saturday Newbies who can join her at the continental breakfast on Saturday morning. We will reserve a table for any interested Newbies (and Buddies!).

What I Learned from the 57th ATA Conference

By Sarah Symons-Glegorio

Reblogged from www.sharktranslations.com with permission from the author

It was my first time attending the annual ATA (American Translators Association) conference, which this year was held November 2-6 in San Francisco. I was equally giddy and nervous. Being surrounded by so many worldly multilinguals was awe-inspiring. It felt like I had found my tribe. I saw famous people (famous to me and those in the translation world) on the escalator and they smiled and are real, approachable people!

After downloading the app, I had earmarked at least 2 sessions per time slot that I was interested in. There is just no humanly possible way to take it all in. My mentor gave me some good advice: don’t try to do everything. Skip a session to take a break. Seeing as I was 7 months pregnant and went to the airport at 3:00 in the morning the day the conference began, skipping a session to take a nap was a lifesaver, even if it meant missing my mentor’s session!

Networking for Introverts

As a first timer and an introvert, I had the best possible introduction to the conference. The first session was “Networking for Introverts” by Anne Goff, which had me chuckling right away with the tip: “Don’t go to networking events!” The idea is that if events are marketed as such i.e., “after-work networking” then they’re usually full of semi-desperate, CV-shoving people who just want to unload their stack of papers rather than develop relationships. However, if an event has an interesting topic and can be a learning opportunity, then go! Another trick to get introverts to network is to RSVP or pay a registration fee. You’ll be more motivated to go if you have someone to meet there or if you’ll lose money by not showing up. Look up current events before going. Network for career advice and come up with questions in advance. At presentations, say hello to the people sitting nearby and ask their opinions. The most important part is to FOLLOW UP afterwards. Text or email the people you’ve met within 24 hours. Follow up again and not just once. Do so a few days, and months afterwards and keep the cycle going to maintain the relationship. Finally, don’t thank people for taking the time to meet with you because then it sounds like you don’t offer anything.

Buddies and Newbies

ATA offers a Buddies and Newbies program where they pair conference veterans with first timers to meet before the conference begins and possibly attend a session together. Since the buddy to newbie ratio was about 5:1, my buddy, Jamie Hartz graciously herded a flock of newbies around and we all had lunch together. It was the perfect way to meet new colleagues and I would highly recommend anyone going to be either a buddy or a newbie.

Areas for Translator Improvement

After reading her column “Fire Ant and Worker Bee” the Translation Journal for years, and reading her book “The Prosperous Translator”, it was an honor to see Chris Durban in person. Her presentation “What About Blind Spots” presented some potentially uncomfortable truths for translators. Some blind spots, or (unknown) areas of improvement for translators, are relatively easy to fix, such as developing business skills. Others that take more time are deepening your knowledge of your source language(s) and specialization(s). The bottom end of the translation market will eventually be taken over by machine translation (artificial intelligence) so it is incredibly important to hone your skills. The hardest truths for translators to both see and fix are work quality and client satisfaction. Improving the quality of your work takes time and practice, even with regular feedback and collaboration with a reviser.

Future of Translation

Honing your skills to keep your job from being taken by machine translation was also underscored in the session about the future of translation “Future Tense” by Jay Marciano. According to Jay, “All MT claims are hyped up.” They act like they’re going to change everything and be revolutionary but they’re not. I take that as meaning machine translation will bring about a lot of change, but we’ll have time to change with it, if we sharpen our skill sets. Translators need to learn to work with the technology rather than trying to race against it. Some of Jay’s recommendations include:

  • Become a super native speaker of your target language. That’s not replaceable by machines.
  • Take a logics course and get familiar with algorithmic thinking.
  • Be comfortable with databases.

Financial Terminology

The “Capital Markets” session by Marian Greenfield was great for succinctly clarifying concepts. She emphasized the importance of finding monolingual glossaries in each language because they are better quality than bilingual glossaries since they go into more depth and are developed by industry professionals. I was happy that she also confirmed a nagging doubt of mine that English doesn’t clearly distinguish between “participation” and “share” as is commonly done in Spanish and other Romance languages (participación vs. acción). It’s stumbled me before how to deal with both versions in a text when you can use “share” for both in English. Another possibility would be to use “unit” in an investment fund. For further reading, she recommended The Intelligent Investor by Ben Graham.

Analyzing Contracts

The session I couldn’t take notes fast enough in was “Contracts: Friends or Foes” by Amanda Williams of Mirror Image Translations. She has some great comebacks for shady clauses in translation agency contracts. Keep in mind though, that we needn’t be combative to get clauses changed. She recommends to say something along the lines of “I read this clause. I’m not 100% on-board because ___. Can we talk about it?” One of the more shocking clauses included forbidding the translator from contacting an agency’s future or potential customers. Does that mean I’m not supposed to look for another customer ever again!? Another one that gave me a chuckle was a clause forbidding translators from discussing compensation with other linguists. According to Amanda, that is a sign they’re not paying enough! In addition to her great comebacks, she also has an excellent “Spec sheet” that she uses to outline details of any project she takes on.

Cost Breakdown

The total cost of attending the conference broke down as follows:

  • Food, transportation in San Francisco: $231.86
  • Airline tickets: $261.40 (2 round-trip tickets PDX – SFO)
  • Hotel: $666.44 (24 nights)
  • Conference: $525.00
  • Exam: $300.00
  • Total: $1984.70

My costs were likely higher than other people’s for a variety of reasons. For one, I took the ATA exam while in San Francisco, which was an additional $300.00 that most people didn’t pay. The opportunity cost in that was having to forgo all of the Saturday conference sessions so I could be 100% focused on the exam. Another cost I paid higher for was the hotel. Being in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, I needed something close to the conference location, so I found a hotel within 5 blocks; Club Quarters Hotel, which I highly recommend if you need a place to stay in San Francisco’s financial district. The airline tickets were for two people and included a discount for credit card points, although the distance was relatively short. Time will tell if the contacts made and lessons learned will generate or save enough money to cover expenses for the next conference.

Conclusion

All in all, the conference was equally inspiring and overwhelming. It’s absolutely impossible to take it all in so you will inevitably miss out on things. I met some incredible people and got to attend some eye-opening presentations with lessons I’ll be working on implementing. The best advice I could give to my future self and anyone else thinking to attend an ATA conference is to get enough sleep before you go. Have someone to meet up with. Take a water bottle, copious notes, and frequent breaks!

Sources:

  1. Anne Goff, “Networking for Introverts” (presentation, American Translators Association 57th Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, November 3, 2016).
  2. Chris Durban, “What About Blind Spots” (presentation, American Translators Association 57th Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, November 3, 2016).
  3. Jay Marciano, “Future Tense – Where will AI & Improving Technologies Take Us in 5 Years?” (presentation, American Translators Association 57th Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, November 3, 2016).
  4. Amanda Williams, “Contracts: Friends or Foes” (presentation, American Translators Association 57th Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, November 3, 2016).
  5. Marian S. Greenfield, CT, “Capital Markets Concepts and Terminology” (presentation, American Translators Association 57th Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, November 3, 2016).

Networking: No Reason to Fear

As translators and interpreters, we often shudder when we hear the word “networking”. It’s sort of the freelancer’s equivalent to a job interview; we feel that we need to be prepared to share our three biggest weaknesses or explain our job history or validate our qualification for our jobs. We fear that if we don’t say every word of our well-practiced 30-second elevator speech, then we’re failures. But does it really need to be so scary? Of course not.

Networking is significantly less daunting if you think of it as a combination of the following activities that we already do in our everyday personal and professional lives:

  • Connecting with colleagues
  • Making friends
  • Helping others
  • Building teams

Networking can be as simple as sharing notes with your neighbor at a conference session when one of you has missed what the speaker said. It can be sitting down at a breakfast table where no one is speaking to each other and striking up a conversation. Networking can be thanking someone you see in the hallway for their contributions to a listserv or their interesting Tweets. It can be connecting a person who has a specific need or question with someone who can answer it for them. And most importantly, networking can be a learned skill. Don’t let your introversion or social anxiety get the best of you! Seeing networking as something to be feared rather than embraced will only hold you back.

As a freelance translator, I think of the ATA conference as one of my only chances throughout the year to connect in person with colleagues I usually only get to converse with digitally. This makes my networking time all the more significant but also all the more fun! It means that the connections I make during the conference have the potential to become my virtual office, my digital colleagues, for months and years to come.

Advice about networking from past conference attendees:

Go to more than just the education sessions: try attending the conference dance party, go to the poetry reading, go to the speed networking session… try things that allow you to interact with people in a more casual setting.

– Mary @McKeeT9N

Ask lots of questions. It can be really nerve-wracking to think of what to talk about, but if you ask good questions and actively listen to the responses, conversations will come more naturally. I feel really weird talking about myself, but when I start with questions, usually they are reciprocated so it becomes a more natural conversation.

– Victoria @VCKTranslation

You will receive a pink ribbon to wear on your nametag that says “First-Time Attendee”; wear it proudly! People will definitely welcome you warmly and ask you what you think of the conference so far. Take part in Buddies Welcome Newbies and stay close to your Buddy for answers to your questions, great tips and introductions to other attendees.

Don’t forget to exchange cards so you can remember all the new people you meet and follow-up after the conference with a “nice to meet you” note/email/message.

Have a list of short conversation-openers ready, like which has been your favorite session so far, or favorite part of the conference, how many times have you been to the conference, what do you specialize in, where do you come from, etc.

– Catherine @LinguaGreca

If you set in your mind a goal to learn new things and get to know people, and get marketing yourself out of your head a bit, you won’t feel as nervous.

– David @LTTDave

Don’t worry about not “clicking” with everyone you come into contact with. It can feel daunting to chat with someone you’re impressed by or who you think or hope might offer you work, but remember to just be yourself. It’s never worth it to pretend to be someone you’re not just to impress others. Be your authentic self and be willing to let it slide right off your back when you feel like an interaction was awkward or unfruitful. It’s natural not to jibe with everyone you meet.

– Emily @saffrontrans

What other tips do you have for feeling more comfortable about networking, readers?

9 Things You Can Do Today to Get the Most out of #ATA58

By Anne Goff (www.aegtranslations.com), reblogged from The Savvy Newcomer with permission from the author

This October, some 2,000 language professionals will swarm the Hilton in Washington DC for the 58th Annual ATA Conference. They will push through crowds of people to find the next packed presentation room, will sit in a sea of unfamiliar faces, will spend their entire waking day taking in new information and trying desperately to remember the name of the person they met two seconds ago. It’s overwhelming. It’s exhausting. It’s also exhilarating.

Even the most introverted among us feel a thrill being around people who understand our career and share our interests. In the chaos, it is easy to miss opportunities and come away from the conference feeling disappointed. Below are nine ideas for how you can prepare to get the most out of ATA 58.

1) Double-check your marketing materials

Update your resume and triple check for any mistakes. Do the same for your business cards and order extras now.

Find something extra to bring to help you stand out. This could be a personalized name badge, a lanyard—something pretty, crazy, or specific to your specialization, stickers or pins to show your language or specialization… Anything that encourages others to approach you about something you are interested in is helpful.

As you update your marketing materials, write out previous jobs and relevant experience. What stands out? What are you most proud of? What might be funny (and positive and professional)? What showcases your talent, knowledge, and drive?

Add to this list any time you take on a new job, and always note why the job is important. (A challenge you overcame, an impressive client, new information learned, etc.) If you don’t have a lot of job experience, consider classes you’ve taken, volunteer work you’ve done, research you are excited about. Review this list before the conference so that you will have specific, positive, professional responses when people ask you about your experience.

2) Research the presentations… and the presenters

Does the presenter have a website? Social media accounts? Find what information they’ve made public. Look for common interests, common languages, and anything you would like to ask about. Write all of this down and review it before the presentation. After the presentation—introduce yourself!

If you’re really excited about a presenter or a topic, feel free to send them an email in advance sharing your excitement, asking a question, or pointing out a shared interest. Everyone likes enthusiastic people in the audience. And while we’re at it, why wait until after the conference to follow them on Twitter?

3) Research the companies at the job fair and the exhibit hall

Look for specific things to discuss with any company you are interested in. What skills are they looking for? Why are you a good match? Why do you like this company? Research can make you stand out in a busy job fair. If you can find out who will be representing the company, why not drop them a line today, and tell them how much you’re looking forward to meeting them?

One easy way to start this now is with the ATA Conference App. During the conference you can use it to keep track of the schedule and stay up-to-date, and you can use it today to look through the list of represented companies as you start your research.

4) Reach out and make friends

Whether you’ve met fellow attendees in past or only know them online, a quick social media post or a brief email to let people know that you look forward to seeing them or to plan a coffee together can go a long way.

5) Research the area around the conference

A little research saves a lot of time and stress during the conference. Find a place you can recommend for lunch or coffee. Find a place you can slip away, where others can’t see you, for some quiet time. Find cultural places in the area specific to your language/specialization/interests. Look up a few practical places around the conference: ATMs, drug stores, phone stores for chargers, etc.

6) Set specific goals

Goals give focus and clarity in the midst of chaos. Set a goal for each presentation: “I want to meet two people who translate in this field into my B language,” “I want to learn X, Y, Z.” Don’t assume it was a bad presentation if it didn’t cover your specific question. Asking your question at the end of the session is a great way to meet people.

7) Prepare for questions

If you feel awkward when asked the standard conference questions, prepare for them now. “Why are you here?” “Did you come last year?” “What did you think?” “Are you enjoying the conference this year?” “How did you become a translator?”

“Last year I was just too overwhelmed and intimidated to come,” may be true. But it might be better to try something like: “I’ve been developing my business this year, learning about the profession, expanding my client base, and I’m so excited to be here!” Focus on what you’ve learned, what you look forward to learning, what excites you, how it fits with your work or a new avenue you are interested in exploring. Be honest, positive, and professional.

8) Post to social media

Everybody recommends this, but I’m going to be the one negative voice here. Posting to social media that you are going to be traveling on specific dates is a potential safety risk. You don’t have to do it. However, if you’re comfortable with it, it can be a great way to connect with people before the conference and can make it easier to plan coffee dates, lunches, trips to cultural sites, etc.

But remember, you can do much of this via email, phone calls, and private messages if you prefer not to post about it publicly. Where appropriate, you can also contact favorite clients to tell them that you will be attending a presentation pertinent to their field.

9) Schedule time after the conference

Immediately following the conference, you will have so much to go over, you will have work that’s piled up, and then there’s the laundry… If at all possible, schedule a few days after the conference to catch up and recharge before diving back into your routine. Otherwise, you may never get to your post-conference to-do list.

After the conference is the time to post to social media about what you learned and who you met. Write an article or two… Blog…  follow up with the people you met. This is the single most important thing you can do. Send emails, private messages, tweets. Connect on LinkedIn and Twitter… And be prepared to do it all again in a week or two.

This is where you will really stand out. So prepare for it now.

If you plan to mail cards after the conference, buy them now. Address them if possible. Write up ideas for what you might say. Streamline your social media. (Link your accounts so one post will go to multiple accounts, learn to schedule your posts, etc.)

The key is to be intentional and organized about what you want out of any large conference. After all, you are setting aside time and money to be there. Why not make the most of it?

Local Favorites and Things to See in D.C.

If ATA58 will be your first visit to Washington D.C. – or if you haven’t been there in many years – it is definitely worth your while to take a break from the conference, or even arrive a day or two early, to take in the sights of this historic and beautiful city. D.C. is a little of everything: a capital city, a college town, a hub for major corporations, and a booming metropolis. Below are a few ideas we came up with to keep you busy sightseeing whenever you have downtime during the conference. Almost all of these locations are free to enter and view, though some may require an admission fee for tours and other sightseeing. The nearest Metro station to the conference hotel (Washington Hilton) is Dupont Circle on the red line. The Hilton is north of the National Mall and most of the historic sites, though you can find adventures in any direction!

Dupont Circle area (source: Carolyn Yohn at https://untangledtranslations.wordpress.com/2017/08/29/get-ready-for-ata58/):

Kramer Books http://kramers.com/

The Phillips Collection http://www.phillipscollection.org/

St. Arnold’s Mussel Bar http://starnoldsmusselbar.com/

North of Dupont Circle

Smithsonian National Zoo https://nationalzoo.si.edu/

National Mall area

Lincoln Memorial https://washington.org/DC-guide-to/lincoln-memorial

Reflecting Pool http://www.nationalmall.org/explore-national-mall/monuments-memorials/lincoln-memorial-reflecting-pool

Washington Monument https://www.nps.gov/wamo/index.htm

White House https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_House

Ford’s Theatre https://www.fords.org/

Chinatown Express (fun eatery in Chinatown) http://www.chinatownexpressdc.com/

Holocaust Memorial Museum https://www.ushmm.org/

Jefferson Memorial https://washington.org/DC-guide-to/jefferson-memorial

Smithsonian Museums https://www.si.edu/museums

National Archives (may require advance planning) https://www.archives.gov/

Capitol Building https://www.visitthecapitol.gov/

Library of Congress (may require advance planning) https://www.loc.gov/

Northwest of the National Mall

Georgetown University https://www.georgetown.edu/

Georgetown Cupcake (be prepared for a long wait) https://www.georgetowncupcake.com/

Southwest of the National Mall, across the Potomac

Arlington National Cemetery http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Explore/Tomb-of-the-Unknown-Soldier

Readers, what other landmarks or sites are you excited to see in D.C. this October?

Anatomy of an ATA Conference

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

 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.

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