First Time at the ATA Conference

conference hall

At the end of November, I attended my first-ever American Translators Association (ATA) Conference. The event took place in Boston, Massachusetts.

I would like to share some of my impressions from the event. My fellow translators will forgive me if some of my first-timer observations sound naïve. I am by no means an expert on this organization, which I only joined last year.

My first and strongest impression, which came as no surprise, was the prevalence of Spanish at the conference. Spanish was to be heard everywhere, and was, in many cases, the “default foreign language.” Some interpreter training programs that shall remain unnamed failed to mention the fact they only worked with Spanish, perhaps thinking that it went without saying?

In addition, I felt that it was up to the individual to make the most out of this networking opportunity, even though the organizers did set up some events that helped people network (the speed networking session, where you had two minutes to talk to a stranger, and the job marketplace, where you could leave your résumé and business card). Still, once I had almost given up hope to hear from people not looking for Spanish or agencies not looking for all languages of the earth for good measure, I was randomly approached by English-Russian translators. So, the networking side definitely works, but you need to be proactive about it.

It terms of outcomes, I have since been emailed by a couple of translation agencies looking to expand their pool of translators. Nothing personal, but that’s already something.

All in all, I thought the conference was a good chance to get a feel for the industry, but, considering the cost of attendance (some $180 for student members), perhaps not something you want to do every year.

Fellow translators, what was your experience at the ATA Conference like? How do you feel about it?

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