The 52nd Annual Conference of the American Translators Association in Boston (photos) from the 26th to the 29th of October 2011 was the highlight of our conference calendar, and proved to be a very interesting experience, both in terms of learning and networking.
Since this was our third ATA annual conference, we pretty much knew our way around. The first session we attended was Marian S. Greenfield’s pre-conference seminar “Ramping Up Your Translation Business”, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Marian is a very experienced translator and she offered a wealth of tips on how to improve your freelance business, she certainly gave us plenty of food for thought.
After our seminar, we came across ATA’s Shop, where we noticed ATA’s new official tag-line to its name: The Voice of Interpreters and Translators. Very nice!
The Welcome Reception the same evening was a great opportunity to see friends and colleagues and meet in person people we already knew on Twitter or new people. We always have fun, one way or the other, at those receptions. The (complimentary) food and drinks are great and the atmosphere is amazing. This year was no exception and it was certainly a nice way to kick-start the conference the next day.
The first conference day started quite strong: we attended Karen M. Tkaczyk‘s presentation entitled “How to Make Translators Rave About Your Agency”. The room was packed with people and the presenter offered quite a lot of business practices that can improve the working relationship between the freelancer and the translation agencies. The rest of the day we split up in order to attend as many sessions as possible since the program was packed with very interesting presentations. Time conflicts, however, made us missed quite a few interesting ones. By the end of the day, we decided to pay the extra $99 to buy the online ATA eConference: all the presentations recorded in electronic form. That way, we’ll be able to hear all the interesting sessions again and again in our own time. We definitely propose this option to all the fellow translators who, for any reason, were unable to attend the conference.
Our highlight of the second day was the presentation “Working Successfully with a Translation Partner” by Corinne McKay and Eve Bodeux. The ladies presented several different cases based on interviews and case-studies. What struck us the most were the amazing tips and possibilities they discussed. Even for translators already working with partners (like us), it was eye-opening to hear how beneficial this relationship can be for both parties involved. By the end of the session, we were overwhelmed by the information and the prospects that lay ahead of us as partners.
The third day started on a very different note, as we attended the conference tweet-up, organized by Eve Bodeux (@ebodeux). Boy, what a great experience. It was our first tweet-up ever and we had a great laugh watching everybody trying to tweet and speak at the same time! It’s always good to see the faces behind the names and we loved the offline interaction with our online friends. Between sessions, we also visited the Exhibit Hall, where we had the chance to keep in touch with the latest developments in CAT tools as the leading providers were ready to answer any question regarding their products.
The conference ended with a powerhouse panel discussion, called “Smart Business for Translators and Interpreters”, featuring Chris Durban, Judy Jenner, Corinne McKay and moderated by Jost Zetzsche. A lot of smart tips for smart businesses by three brilliant and successful translators and entrepreneurs. The moderator asked all the right questions and the audience had about 20 minutes to ask their own questions.
In general, there were sessions that we liked a lot, sessions we’d definitely attend again in the future (you just can’t learn enough for some people), sessions we’d like to see as 3-hour pre-conference seminars (very interesting but not enough time given the 1-hour restriction) and sessions we didn’t like much (first time that we walked out of a session because it was quite bad, but we won’t name names). These things are more or less expected in a big conference, but the good thing is that the conference organizers take into account all these different parameters and plan accordingly for the next conferences, so we won’t be surprised to see a few 90-minute sessions next year.
The other thing that we really liked, especially compared to past conferences, was the availability of free Wi-Fi everywhere in the hotel (lobby, outside, conference rooms and hotel rooms). Of course, we should also say that the signal wasn’t that good in all areas and in some cases the presenters couldn’t even use it during their sessions and the social media junkies couldn’t tweet about the sessions live. Still, a lot of tweets about the ATA conference made it to the web, check #ata52 to see what the attendees were talking about.
Contrary to the warm atmosphere of the conference, the weather outside was cold, windy and snowy. It was very exciting for us to experience our very first storm! It was the first Nor’easter of the season, which managed to break snow records in many cities and states along the East Coast and unfortunately ruin Hallowe’en for many families.
It seems that the conference organizers read our minds for warmer weather, so the next conference will be in sunny San Diego. It will be a nice change to have your breakfast outside by the pool and mingle with friends and colleagues under the sun.
Stay tuned for more session-focused posts from ATA’s conference in Boston. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts and experiences regarding the conference if you attended and if you didn’t: what’s keeping you?