By Aída Carrazco
Last year I attended my first ATA conference in New Orleans. It was a huge step for my professional development, and it changed my life. It was the first time I met face to face with fellow translators! I met people whom I can call friends now. I learned a lot, and I discovered
that I love the audiovisual field, even though I am not an expert. One of the activities I chose was taking part in AVD’s first meeting, and it was a smart decision. During the meeting I heard about their mentoring program and immediately decided I wanted to be part of it.
A few months later, I got an email from the AVD administration telling me I had been assigned a mentor, and that the program would start in January. We decided to meet twice a month, on Sunday mornings. My first Skype call with my mentor was a disaster. I think I almost cried when she asked me to do a spelling test right in the middle of the call, and again when she counted all the mistakes I had. I was so good in spelling until that moment! I realized that even when we think we are good at something, there’s always room for improvement, and I decided to work on my spelling skills.
I read my books again and again, and asked every question that came to my mind. My mentor was always there for me, giving me practical and useful tips. We spent several calls checking these questions and practicing. I loved the day when I did great on my spelling test and I became a “star student”; I was ready to start learning how to subtitle.
Over the next sessions, I discovered that subtitling is not as easy as it seems. It involves translating, synthetizing, transcreating, and
formatting, and of course, a lot of creativity. It’s an art that requires practice and time, and a captivating profession to pursue. Nowadays, I
think it’s one of the most challenging and rewarding fields of translation, and the mentoring program truly offered a wonderful opportunity to approach subtitling guided by an experienced, professional and enthusiastic translator.
I also realized that being a mentee means being committed to listening and learning, being open and receptive to feedback (both positive and critical), and seeing your mentor as a trusted person and a source of inspiration. The best way to take advantage of this program is to ask questions; the mentor is there to help, but the mentee should be the one leading the sessions with curiosity and thirst for knowledge.
I actually have a longer list of goals after completing the mentoring program. My world of possibilities has expanded. I recognized my
weaknesses and worked hard to improve. I now feel more confident in my work because I have more resources and I know my strengths.
During these months, my mentor not only supported me with my professional goals, but also with some personal issues and with the way
they impacted my work. Now I know I have a friend and a mentor I can turn to for help. I’m glad I was part of the first mentee’s generation and I could not recommend it more, both for newbies in the translation field and for those who want to be close to an expert who shares similar interests. I am sure anyone willing to learn will greatly benefit from this, just like I did.