Making the Most of ATA57

From the President-Elect

Corinne McKay
corinne@translatewrite.com
Twitter handle: @corrinemckay

Whether you’re attending ATA’s Annual Conference for the first or the 40th time, you’ll want to make the most of the experience. Attending the conference is a significant investment in terms of time and money, but attendees also tell us that the conference is the highlight of their year and that it inspires them to pursue their professional goals with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

It’s always instructive to read our attendees’ feedback after each conference. At ATA56 in Miami, 96% of our attendees told us they made new business contacts and 93% said they learned new professional skills. At ATA57, we expect over 1,800 attendees from 60 countries. If you haven’t yet registered for ATA57, it’s not too late to join us. Visit www.atanet.org/conf/2016 today to learn more.

Once you’ve decided to attend the conference, it’s time to think about how to maximize your time in San Francisco. I attended my first ATA Annual Conference in Toronto in 2004 (and haven’t missed one since!), and every year I try to add to my list of insider tips. Here are a few:

  • If you’re attending for the first time, make sure to visit the “Resources for First-Time Attendees” page at
    www.atanet.org/conf/2016/first-time. There, you’ll find a free webinar presented by veteran translator and conference-goer Jill Sommer, a link to our Newbies and Buddies program, and information on how to sign up for our ATA57 Newbies listserve. All of these resources will help you learn what to expect as a first-timer!
  • Start planning your schedule now. With the session and event schedule set (view it at www.atanet.org/conf/2016), it’s not too early to choose your educational and networking opportunities, and then slot in some social time as well! New this year are our Advanced Skills and Training Day (Wednesday) and our Job Fair (Thursday), and you definitely don’t want to miss Wednesday’s Welcome Celebration, or the always-exciting Brainstorm Networking event on Friday.
  • Step outside your comfort zone. If you’re an experienced translator attending your 10th, 20th, or 30th conference, it’s easy to spend all your time with people you know, attending sessions by presenters you know. While connecting with longtime friends is definitely a highlight of the conference, it’s also important to expand your range of professional knowledge (attend a session that focuses on an area of the profession that you’d like to explore) and help the next generation of translators and interpreters integrate into ATA (volunteer to be a Buddy, or attend Friday’s Brainstorm Networking event).
  • Take an active role in your association. ATA is over 10,000 members strong, and each one of you has a unique perspective to contribute. At the conference, we offer a variety of opportunities for you to give ATA’s leadership your feedback and ideas for the future. To keep ATA thriving, we need to know what programs and services you enjoy the most, and what we can do to better meet your needs in the future. You can have breakfast with the Board, offer a comment at the Annual Meeting, and attend a Board meeting. Learn more about these and other opportunities to have your voice heard at
    www.atanet.org/conf/2016/association.
  • Remember that the conference experience continues after you return home. If you’re intent on making the most of your investment in the conference, you’ll leave with a large stack of business cards from the contacts you made in San Francisco. During the conference, make sure to write down why you have those cards and the names of the people with whom you need to follow up. Once you’re back in your office, make sure to actually write those follow-up e-mails. It’s also a nice touch to write a thank-you e-mail to any speakers whose presentations you particularly enjoyed.

Happy planning, and I look forward to seeing you in San Francisco!

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