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.

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) […]

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 […]

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 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 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 does it mean to be a Buddy/Newbie?

You have heard about this Buddies Welcome Newbies session at the ATA conference and you are all signed up to go to it, but you may not be sure what you have signed yourself up for! Here is a breakdown of what Buddies’ and Newbies’ roles are and what to expect:

Buddies are “veteran” conference-goers; if you’ve attended at least one ATA conference, then you qualify to be a Buddy! Your job is to make a first-timer (or a few of them) feel more at home.

Newbies are first-time attendees to the ATA conference; they aren’t necessarily new to the industry or green or inexperienced, but they aren’t sure how to navigate their first conference and are looking for a friendly face.

Buddies will be paired up with their Newbies at our Buddies Welcome Newbies session on Wednesday, October 25th at 4:45pm. We’ll talk more about networking and how to navigate the conference, as well as engage in a few ice-breaker activities to make you feel more comfortable right off the bat. Here are some activities we encourage you to do with your Buddy or Newbie:

  • Head to the Welcome Reception together for a bite to eat (the Welcome Reception occurs right after the Buddies Welcome Newbies introductory session and can be quite overwhelming if you don’t know anyone there!)
  • Attend a session together (maybe something you are both interested in; maybe something your Buddy is interested in that you could learn more about)
  • Get a meal together (this is a good chance to talk about your work and learn more about each other; your Buddy can offer you candid advice on how to best use your time and energy at the conference)
  • Walk through the Exhibit Hall together (it can be a scary place, but your Buddy will point out ways to make it more manageable and make the most of your time there)

Choose one or two of these and enjoy getting to know your Buddy! Don’t be afraid to ask questions; your Buddy will be happy to share their experiences and remind you that you are not alone.

Looking forward to the conference? Have unanswered questions? Write to us in the comments!