ATA64 Conference Preview: Business Practices Education at ATA64
In about a week, ATA’s annual conference will begin, this year in sunny Miami, Florida. As always, attendees will have to choose how to split their time among networking opportunities, social activities, job-hunting, and educational sessions. With so many options and so little time, how do you choose?
You could just wander the halls and drop in on any session that sounds interesting. Or you could throw darts at a printout of the sessions and attend the ones you hit. But to make the most of a conference experience, making a plan is your best bet. I tried planning for a handful of fictional linguists with a variety of experiences and goals for their business and their time at the conference. Which sessions might they be interested in? Where can they find inspiration or even a challenging new viewpoint to help them grow their businesses? Here’s what I came up with.
Finn has been working as a freelancer for more than a decade and has built up a solid base of direct clients. Sometimes they ask for services like DTP or translation into language pairs Finn doesn’t work with. He often provides referrals to other freelancers for these services, but lately he’s been wondering if he should start his own agency instead of sending all the work elsewhere.
- Business Models for Freelance Interpreters and Translators – Liming Pals will lead roundtable discussions on freelancing, boutique language service providers, and multilingual language service providers. Finn should come away with a better understanding of the advantages and potential challenges of starting his own agency.
- New Frontier for the Linguist-Centered Enterprise – Julie H. Tay, Paula Azevedo, Romina Marazzato Sparano, and Pency Tsai will discuss their own entrepreneurial experiences. Finn will get an in-depth look at the nuts and bolts of building an agency, and he’ll have a chance to ask questions and get answers from people who have already done what he wants to do.
Mara and Edison are co-workers who are attending the conference on behalf of their agency, and they’d like to attend some sessions together. Mara is a self-professed techie. She is excited to learn about new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and find out how she can best use them. Edison, on the other hand, is very security-conscious, slow to adopt new technology, and highly suspicious of AI. He’s not sure it will be a helpful tool for him.
- ChatGPT, anyone? Top Industry Trends and What They Mean for You – Daniel Brockmann will discuss the results of a Trados survey that shows how translators are using new technologies now. Mara may get some new ideas for tech she hasn’t tried yet, and Edison will get an overview of what’s happening in the industry. He may find a new tech-based niche he would like to get into.
- MT Is Dead: Long Live the Large Language Model – Jay Marciano will explain the difference between neural machine translation, which Edison has just started to embrace, and large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, which Mara uses regularly. Jay will also go into the nuts and bolts of LLMs, so Mara may gain insight into why the tool works the way it does, and Edison will understand what it can do to help him. Both colleagues will have a basis for discussion that may help them work together better.
- Master the Safety and Continuity of Your Business – This session will speak to Edison’s concerns about keeping his work secure. Dolores Guiñazú and Gabriela Escarrá will discuss business security and disruptions using ISO standards and case studies. Edison will pick up some new tips, and Mara may be inspired to think more carefully about her own security practices.
Ibrahim has been working with agencies for the last five years. He wants to start expanding into the direct client market, but he knows he’s been leaning on his agency clients to manage many aspects of the business relationship. He tends to sign contracts and NDAs without worrying too much about what the terms are, and he gets business by approaching companies directly and registering on their websites rather than marketing to potential clients. He needs some pointers to help him spruce up his business practices before he starts seeking direct clients.
- The Power of Fine Print: Writing Your Own Freelance Contract – Andy Benzo, a lawyer, paralegal, and contract specialist, will break down the parts of a contract and offer ideas on how to write one that protects both freelancer and client. Ibrahim should come away with a new appreciation for these agreements and some ideas on how to write his own.
- Got a Quality Complaint? Say Yes! How to Address Quality Issues and Show Your Value – Ibrahim hasn’t had many complaints about his work, but he’s occasionally gotten queries from project managers who question his translation choices. He’s nervous about landing a direct client who may think his translation is not worth what they paid for it. This session by Guillaume Deneufbourg will help Ibrahim prepare to deal with those situations.
- Creating a Digital and Print Business Card that Speaks for Itself – Ibrahim has tried to create a business card for himself, but he’s never happy with the results. Amanda Calvin’s session will give him the tools to create a card he will be happy to hand out to potential clients.
Torie is a mid-career translator with a good specialization in business and marketing translation and a steady client base. Overall, they’re happy with where they are and what they’re doing, but the last few years have been increasingly stressful, and they’re feeling a little tired and run-down. They don’t want to make any big changes, but some little tweaks would be nice.
- Regroup and Refocus: Reaching Your Goals in a Season of Self-Care – Jennifer Santiagos will talk about rethinking priorities and working toward goals when times get stressful. Torie will have the opportunity to think about their personal and professional priorities and get some ideas on how to find support in reaching them. Since this is a 30-minute talk, Torie may find it easier to focus for the entire session.
- Walk the Talk: How to Make Your Social Media Accessible for All – Torie has been wanting to increase marketing through social media, but translating about marketing and doing marketing are two different things. This session by Gabriela Ortiz will discuss images, captioning, and best practices for accessible social media use. Gabriela’s tips may give Torie the push they need to get started.
Zoe has had a long, successful career in translation and interpreting, and she’s looking forward to retirement soon. As she gradually reduces her client load, she wants to use some of her newfound free time to give a hand up to younger colleagues.
- ATA’s Mentoring Program: Dynamic Partnering Toward Achieving the Next Level – Zoe has thought about serving as a mentor to a less-experienced colleague. In this presentation, Tony Guerra and Rosario Welle will give her an overview of the ATA Mentoring Program and let her know how to get involved.
- Making a Difference: How to Contribute to the Professionalization of Interpreting – Gabriela Siebach will discuss how a variety of interpreting subgroups have been moving toward increased professionalization. Zoe’s long experience includes court and conference interpreting, but she’d like to learn more about developments in educational interpreting and see if she can help with professionalization. This session might give her some answers.
- Advocacy Strategies: Effective Storytelling for Language Professionals – This panel discussion features Nicolás Arizaga, Ben Karl, Lorena Ortiz Schneider, Bill Rivers, and Jennifer Santiagos. With their deep experience in advocating for our profession, they will show Zoe what she can do to help influence public policies that will affect her and her colleagues.
Maybe one of these plans will work for you. Or maybe the options here will help you make your own plan. What are you looking for at the conference? Which sessions are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments.
About the Author
Danielle Maxson has been translating since 2009 and specializes in medical translation with a focus on patient records. She is an ATA-certified Portuguese to English and Spanish to English translator and the chair of ATA’s Business Practices Education Committee. Before focusing on translation, she worked as a Spanish teacher and a medical interpreter. For more information, visit https://dmaxsontranslates.com.
Subscribe to Next Level
Have an idea for us?
If you have feedback or ideas for future articles, contact the Business Practices Committee.