Six reasons for going to a conference on translation and interpreting

I could become a serial conference attender, but many translators do not go to conferences. The reasons for not going may be cost, distance, work (too much, too little) and probably a certain amount of fear.
So here are six reasons why you should go.
1. Getting out of the office. Translators are notorious for hiding away in their offices, working in isolation and possibly only communicating by email. Yes you can read about the latest developments in the ITI Bulletin or the Linguist. Yes you can join Twitter and Linked-In forums. But sometimes it is good to put on some smart clothes, exercise the facial muscles with a smile and actively engage with fellow professionals. It can be a normalising experience; after all you don’t have to explain what you do.
2. Networking. It can be daunting I know. You enter a room and everyone else seems to be talking in huddles. You don’t know what to say to people. This is where your local network comes in handy. I have rarely been to an ITI conference where I have not met someone I recognised from a local network.
Admittedly there have been other CPD events where I have not known anyone. In these situations it is a good idea to break the ice with a few basic questions: Are you a translator or interpreter? What languages do you work in? Have you come far? Hopefully a conversation will ensue.
What is the point? Well apart from making you feel more comfortable at the event instead of standing alone with your coffee in the middle of a crowded room, where 50 other people are doing the same thing, you will meet like-minded people. For a start we are all in the same business so we share the same pleasures and frustrations in our work. It can be reassuring to discover that other people were finding the work slow last month for example. There are some very interesting people out there.
3. Work. I wouldn’t advocate going to a conference with the intention of getting work though it can happen. Often agencies have a stand where you can fill in an application form but you don’t have to go to a conference to do that. Meeting people who work for the agency might be useful, there’s nothing better than the personal touch, but you can’t be sure that the representatives at the show are the same people who allocate translation jobs. Nevertheless the people who you meet through networking might throw work your way. I know I have referred work to people I have met at such events because face-to-face meetings build trust far more than a name on a list. In discussions you might hear of a company that people like working for or a big job that needs a lot of translators.
4. Broadening the mind. Travel broadens the mind they say. By all means attend local events but don’t discount the more distant ones. I combined the FIT conference in Berlin with a visit to a number of museums, in particular the Egyptology section of the Neues Museum with the bust of Nefertiti, a trip to the Spreewald in search of the Sorbian language and a fascinating tour of Potsdam. I intend to use the ITI conference in Newcastle as an opportunity to visit the Roman fort at Segedunum.
5. Be inspired. Conferences sometimes lead me to try new things. I have investigated corpora and tried Dragon Naturally Speaking and put them to one side for the moment. I have made more use of social media. You can talk to colleagues who actually use these tools and get their opinion. I have also been encouraged to sign up for more CPD events.
6. Time off. One of the worries about attending conferences on weekdays is that you might lose out on work. You should be able to plan around one or two days. Nowadays most conferences have Wi-Fi so you can check your emails in the breaks. So really the only work you would miss is the small job for turnaround that day. Well everyone is allowed a day off. It is good for you to clear your desk and not worry about work a day or two. And what better reason than a conference with other translators.
So what’s stopping you?


2 Responses to Six reasons for going to a conference on translation and interpreting

  1. You’ve probably realised that I’m a conference addict, Jenny! I fully agree with all your points but would add that it’s worth going just to reignite your passion for your profession: I don’t think I’ve ever been to a conference that I haven’t come back buzzing from, full of enthusiasm for my job, my colleagues and the world of languages. That in turn reflects in your quality of work, I’m sure. Glad to hear you’re going to Newcastle and will look forward to seeing you again up there.

  2. […] 14/12/2014 Six reasons for going to a conference on translation and interpreting by Jenny Whiteley (Lakesidelinguist’s Blog) […]

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