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)

Ordering Business Cards

One of the main items you will want to have on hand at the upcoming ATA conference in Washington D.C. is business cards. These can be as complex or as simple as you’d like, but they are important to have! A business card is your calling card; this is how you will be sure to connect with the people you meet after the conference is over.

A business card should contain the following information: your first and last name, email address, phone number, and job title. If you want, you can also include other information, such as your location or address, your website URL, any certifications you may have, your business name, your professional photograph, or your logo. If you don’t have a job title yet, or you’re a student, or you’re just getting started and aren’t sure what to write, you can write your language pair(s) and your current job or status – e.g. “Graduate Student in Translation – English>Japanese”. There’s no rule that you have to keep these cards forever, and since they’re a relatively low investment you can always make new ones later.

The card does not need to be too fancy – in fact, we suggest that you be sure to leave some blank space on the card so that people can make a note in pen after they’ve met you in order to give themselves a reminder of who you are. For example, if they met you at the Brainstorm Networking event and connected with you over a scenario you discussed regarding medical interpreter ethics, they may jot down, “Brainstorm Netw. – medical interpreter ethics. Interesting perspective.”

Your cards can be uniquely designed by you or a designer, or you can use a template found at one of the many business card designing sites online. Two we’ve used in the past include Vistaprint and Moo. If you want people to be able to write on your card, be sure to make the side with blank space matte and not glossy finish. It shouldn’t take too long for these cards to be delivered to you, but be sure to order them early just in case there is a problem!

Below are some examples of freelancer business cards:

  

While we’re on the topic of business cards, here are a few examples of situations in which you might want to swap business cards with someone:

  • You had a nice chat with a fellow attendee sitting next to you before a session started. You’d like to follow up with them later and thank them for making you feel welcome.
  • At breakfast you met an agency representative who is looking for freelancers in your language pair, and they said the best way to get in touch with them is to share your business card and they will follow up with you after the conference.
  • You ran into someone on the elevator that works in the same lesser-diffused language as you do, and you’d like to be able to connect with them for future collaboration later on.
  • You talked to a speaker after one of their sessions and they promised to send you their PowerPoint slides so you can enjoy the resources they recommended after the conference is over, and they asked how they should get in touch with you.

Don’t forget that it’s never too early to start planning for the conference! Comment below if you have questions or additional thoughts about creating business cards, or if there are any topics you’d like to see covered on this blog. We’re looking forward to getting to know you!

Budgeting for the ATA Conference

Now that you’re convinced that you need to attend ATA58, you’re probably asking yourself how much it’s going to cost. What do you need to budget for? What are some ways you can save money? Here’s the basic layout of an attendee’s budget for the ATA conference – be sure to also take into account the fact that you may lose out on some income since you won’t be working during these business days. Based on numbers from this blog post, you are potentially missing out on an average of $185/day for four business days, for a sum of $740. Let’s examine some of the other expenses involved and consider how the ATA conference just may be an investment that pays for itself!

Item #1: Conference registration

$540-1,210

http://www.atanet.org/conf/2017/registration/

Be sure to do your math… The early registration fee (which ends 9/15) is $540 for ATA members, versus $715 for non-members. ATA membership dues for one year cost $285, so if you’re considering joining the Association, make sure you do so before the conference in order to receive the discounted rate! Rates for all attendees increase starting 9/16 and then again starting 10/6, so the earlier the register, the bigger the discount.

Item #2: Transportation

$200-1,000

Depending on where you’re traveling from, travel could be a big expense. Coming from the East Coast, you may consider driving (in which case you’ll need to pay for parking) or taking a bus or train. From anywhere else in the country or world, you will probably want to fly into either DCA (Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport), IAD (Washington Dulles International Airport), or BWI (Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport). Regardless of your origin, remember that you will most likely need to factor in the cost of an Uber, taxi, or bus from the airport or train station to your hotel.

Item #3: Accommodations

$300-1,200

The Washington Hilton is the host hotel of ATA58 and offers special rates for conference attendees. However, these rooms fill up quickly and you may need to search elsewhere for a place to stay. You can look for a roommate or roommates to split the cost of accommodations by visiting the ATA Roommate Finder. Some conference attendees opt to stay at other hotels or even Airbnb in order to save on money and experience more time outside the conference hotel.

Item #4: Food

$200-400

Depending on your food preferences and schedule, you can choose to take advantage of the low-cost options that will be available through the conference, from free continental breakfast at the conference hotel to evening receptions that include hors d’oeuvres. On the other hand, if you want to truly experience the city of D.C. and enjoy spending time with new and old contacts at local restaurants, your budget needs may be a little different. Some ATA divisions offer dinner receptions at an additional cost to conference attendees, so be sure to sign up for any you may be interested in and calculate these expenses into your budget as well.

Item #5: Miscellaneous expenses

$???

Remember that while you may have travelled a long way to attend the conference, you’re also in a beautiful city with a deep and rich history. It’s a great idea to get out of the conference hotel and take in some of the sights of D.C.; the Smithsonian Zoo, White House, and George Washington University are a quick mile and a half walk or taxi ride from the Hilton and you’ll be glad to get a breath of fresh air.

I’m sure you’ve been adding up these costs as you read and you’re asking yourself if it’s all worth it. I can tell you unequivocally that for every year I’ve attended an ATA conference, it has paid off not only in terms of meeting new clients but also making great contacts, learning invaluable skills and lessons, and getting the intangible yet invaluable sense that I am part of a larger professional community of translators and interpreters. Don’t be afraid to invest in your career by going to the ATA conference; you’ll be glad you did!

What are some ways you’ve thought of to save on conference expenses? We’d love to hear them!

Free Webinar: Tips for Navigating Your First ATA Conference

This webinar by Jill Sommer is chock-full of great advice for first-time attendees to the ATA conference. Both practical and encouraging, the webinar details the steps you can take now in order to be prepared for four days of networking and education. The free webinar will help you conquer some of your nerves and will prepare you to develop strategies to make the most of your time. Be sure to let us know what you think!

http://atanet.org/webinars/ataWebinar116_first_timers.php

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!