After a fantastic week in San Diego at the 53rd annual conference of the American Translators Association, I’m back at my desk, catching up on backlogged e-mail and work. I know, I’m by nature a positive person and I say this every year, but this conference was really wonderful. The location (the San Diego Bayfront Hilton) could not have been better, the weather was perfect, and several people commented that this was the best conference of the past few, in terms of sessions. Huge thanks to conference organizer Caitilin Walsh and the ATA staff for all of their efforts! Here is a summary of what I saw and did during the conference.
On Wednesday, I presented a preconference seminar, “Beyond the Basics of Freelancing” in the morning, then attended Chris Durban‘s seminar “Working the Room” in the afternoon. Overall I was pleased with how my seminar went; I had about 35 attendees which is a nice size for a 3-hour session, and there was a good mix of beginners, more advanced people, various language combinations, etc. Chris’ seminar was, as always, outstanding. She focused on in-person networking with premium-market direct clients, and offered great tips on how to select client events to attend, what to talk about, what to bring, and even what to wear (“no flowing robes at an investment banking conference”)! I love Chris’ sessions because she is incredibly straightforward, isn’t afraid to challenge the conventional wisdom about our profession, and hey, is in favor of making tons of money while enjoying your job. So that was a day well spent. And the opening reception for the conference was truly stunning: outside on the hotel lawn, about 50 feet from the water, with the sun setting over Coronado Island. If you’re already drooling, make your plans now to attend next year’s ATA conference: November 6-9 in San Antonio, Texas! Another plus to presenting a preconference seminar: the conference hasn’t even started and you’re already done presenting, which decreases the stress level quite a bit!
On Thursday, I was honored to join five other highly qualified candidates (seriously…this was a powerful group of women!!) running for the ATA Board of Directors. And even more honored to be elected! I’m looking forward to the upcoming three years of hard work and contributing to ATA’s programs and events, and I really appreciate the support of everyone who encouraged me to run. More on that later, but thank you for your votes!
After the opening session and election, I attended “Lightning Talks: The Future of Translation and Interpreting,” a Ted/Ignite-style panel moderated by Karen Tkaczyk. This featured various well-known T&I people who work in a particular niche (interpreting, high-end translation, translation standards, webcast interpreting etc.) giving four-minute talks about the future of their corner of the market. The format was a real departure from the traditional ATA session format and I really enjoyed it! After the talks, everyone at the conference was invited to submit their own thoughts on the future of the industry, then vote on two topics to be debated during the final session on Saturday afternoon. Hopefully this format will continue next year, because I heard very positive feedback about it.
I then attended Tuomas Kostiainen‘s session, “Tools for Quality Assurance and Translation Memory Maintenance.” Tuomas is an excellent speaker who gets straight to the point, and this session was packed full of tips on using the QA features of your current TM tool, then using standalone tools to go beyond those features if you need to. Tuomas also demonstrated tools for working directly in your TMs if you want/need to. The general takeaway from this session is that most people use only a tiny fraction of the QA features of the software that they already own…so learn those first, then see what else you need.
On Friday, I attended the ATA annual meeting, which is always a fun opportunity to see the various awards that ATA and AFTI (ATA’s charitable arm) present. Special congratulations to fellow Translate in the Catskills alumna Lisa Carter, who won the Alicia Gordon memorial prize for word artistry in translation! I then moved on to Percy Balemans’ presentation “Transcreation: Recreating a Text for the Target Audience.” Percy is a very natural and engaging presenter, and she drew a large audience for this hot topic! I don’t presently do transcreation, but this session really piqued my curiosity, especially since my translation style is very “non-literal,” and transcreation is a good market for translators who live in their target language country (according to Percy!).
Over lunch on Friday, I facilitated a roundtable discussion for the various translation software vendors who were exhibiting at the conference. This was the motivation for my information-gathering post before the conference. And I have to tell you, the discussion was great. It deserves its own post because once the tool vendors got talking, they had a lot to say, and it was incredibly constructive.
The rest of Friday and Saturday were taken up with Board-related meetings and with my family, who came out to San Diego for the weekend. And of course, intermingled with all of these sessions and meetings, it was really wonderful to get together with my long-time translator friends, long-distance translator friends who I had never met in person before, and of course clients! It’s just not possible to overstate the networking and outreach benefits of the ATA conference, even for those of us who are established in the profession. As usual, I left the conference both exhausted and energized, with lots of new ideas on how to tweak and improve my own business. More posts upcoming! And feel free to share your own impressions of the conference too; I would love to hear them!