First Impressions – Reflections on the ATA Annual Conference

Our Vendor Manager, Seyma Albarino, participated in the American Translators Association (ATA) Annual Conference for the first time. She shared her experiences with us:

Now nearly in its sixth decade, the ATA Annual Conference (whose 2017 moniker was “ATA58”) is widely recognized as the gold standard for American language specialists looking to network, learn about their industry and invest in their professional development. This October, ATA58 drew attendees from around the world to Washington, D.C. – and as a linguist and as Vendor Manager for Multilingual Connections, I was proud to be among them. Here are a few of my takeaways from North America’s translation and interpreting event of the year:

1. Find your tribe – or reconnect – at this major family reunion.

The ATA Conference is brimming with newcomers and veterans enthusiastic about their trade, and it’s hard not to feel inspired. Hundreds of attendees wouldn’t dream of missing their chance to connect with colleagues along lines of language and expertise. At the same time, this is a group that’s acutely aware of the importance of acknowledging and honoring each other’s differences, which makes for a warm and inclusive environment. One of the highlights of my time at the Conference was meeting with a few of our linguists face-to-face for the first time.  We work with hundreds of translators and transcriptionists around the world, and we unfortunately get to meet so few of them in person. (Many thanks to those who made the time to meet up!)

2. Non-freelancers are welcome, too!

True to its name, the ATA is undeniably linguist-facing, with a noticeable focus on freelancers, who make up a significant portion of the world of language professionals. But they share that world with others, including translation agencies, volunteer organizations and software developers. The ATA Conference encourages freelancers to connect with these representatives in settings designed to promote partnership: attendees can explore the Exhibit Hall between sessions and learn about advanced education in their field, or receive a tutorial in a software program they’re considering purchasing. The Job Fair is abuzz with freelancers pitching themselves to translation companies looking to hire. There’s enough room for everyone at the ATA Conference – and there’s a good chance we stand to benefit by working together.

3. Linguists never stop learning – though they might take a break to teach others.

The meat and potatoes of the ATA Conference is the slate of sessions on a range of topics, presented by experts in their fields. The day before the Conference officially begins is “Advanced Skills & Training (AST) Day,” during which registrants attend two in-depth, intensive presentations of their choice (my selections featured strategies to help clients market their products and services to consumers abroad, and a thorough review of the impact artificial intelligence and neural machine translation are already making in the translation industry). After AST Day, attendees hit the ground running, choosing from dozens of hour-long offerings. You can’t go wrong – but you might need to keep your FOMO in check.

Making connections, building community and continuing  to learn: with these as my top three take-aways, I’d call this a successful trip. And while I enjoyed  bonding with some of our longtime professional linguists in person, I know that even post-Conference, our involvement with ATA is also helping me connect with those who couldn’t be there.

So, if you’re interested in freelancing for an American company with an international impact, apply here and let us know what you’re all about. We’d love to have you on board!

*Image credit: ATA58 Washington, DC (Photos by Jeff Sanfacon). For more images check out ATA’s library here.