ATA60: Professional Development at Its Best

This year is a milestone for ATA as it will hold its 60th Annual Conference in beautiful Palm Springs, California. Palm Springs is a lovely small town with some great dining and entertainment options. (More on the venue in future columns.) For now, I would like to focus on one of the main reasons for attending: professional development sessions.

AST Day

Advanced Skills and Training (AST) Day takes place on Wednesday, October 23. This “conference-before-the-conference” will provide specialized education and networking opportunities. AST Day offers a selection of three-hour courses specifically chosen to provide intensive, interactive instruction from highly-acclaimed speakers. Course details and speaker bios will be provided when available.

The sessions for this year’s AST Day have already been selected. There were 90 high-quality sessions proposed on a wide variety of topics. Unfortunately, the schedule only allows for 14 slots. As conference organizer, I had the very difficult task of trying to select the best of the best. If only there was more time to include all the excellent proposals we received. I want to thank everyone who submitted proposals for their enthusiasm and support of ATA’s professional development program. Please submit again next year.

The selected sessions cover a wide range of our members’ fields of practice. Topics will include legal translation, interpreting skills for Spanish interpreters, subtitling, machine translation and post-editing, and tips for working on translation projects more efficiently.

Regular Sessions

We received 435 proposals, of which just 40% (174) were able to be selected. Each session was reviewed by subject matter experts, who also had a difficult job recommending the cream of the crop. While I relied heavily on their recommendations, the final decision was mine alone so any criticisms are mine to bear. Just as with the AST sessions, ensuring that the regular sessions cover as many fields of practice and areas of interest as possible is very challenging. Proposals were received for all 30 educational tracks, so there will certainly be something of interest for every attendee. Due to the proximity of this year’s conference to Los Angeles and the large number of sessions submitted by members of the new and enthusiastic Audiovisual Division, the AV track was given special emphasis this year. This is an exciting and growing field of practice about which I encourage all attendees to learn. Again, I would like to thank everyone who submitted a proposal.

Networking Opportunities

Of course, ATA60 will offer more than just educational sessions. There will be networking opportunities, where you can meet prospective clients and fellow translators and interpreters. Here are just a few of the events scheduled for attendees:

  • Book Fair: This event is returning after a long hiatus. Member-authors will have a table offering their books for sale. It’s a great chance to get an autographed copy! (Okay, they may not win any literary prizes, but we know they have great value to us!)
  • Breakfast with the Board: This is your chance to get to know ATA’s leadership! A few tables at the general continental breakfast will be reserved for this event. ATA Board members will also be available for informal discussions throughout the conference. Take this opportunity to introduce yourself, ask questions, or convey your ideas.
  • Brainstorm Networking: Work in small teams to tackle business-related challenges while making friends and creating partnerships. Don’t forget your business cards!
  • Buddies Welcome Newbies: First-time attendees (Newbies) are paired up with seasoned attendees (Buddies) to get the most from their conference experience.
  • Dictionary Exchange: Donate dictionaries and other reference materials you no longer need and find ones you can put to good use. One linguist’s trash is another’s treasure. Tables will be available for you to drop off and/or pick up used dictionaries (for free!).
  • Exhibit Hall: Get a first-hand look at new products you will actually use. Visit school reps offering programs designed for your development. Take the opportunity to meet with employers who might be looking to recruit your services!
  • Job Fair: Taking place over two nights, this event will help you obtain work and meet new clients. Agency reps will host tables and post their current and ongoing needs.
  • Mindful Movement and Zumba: These morning exercise sessions will get your blood flowing before starting your busy day!

Also on tap again this year will be the Welcome Celebration, Business Practices Happy Hour, and After Hours Café, as well as many other social events.

Make ATA60 Your Year

So, come celebrate ATA’s 60th anniversary conference and help us make ATA60 the best conference ever! Visit the conference website for more information (www.atanet.org/conf/2019). The site will be updated as planning progresses. If you haven’t decided to attend ATA60 yet, check out the video of attendees at ATA59 (www.atanet.org/conf/2018).

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