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  • Writer's pictureContinental Interpreting

Lessons from the 2018 ATA Conference

Updated: Jul 2, 2021

Our project management team joined over 1,500 translation industry professionals at the 59th annual American Translators Association Conference in New Orleans. The conference included over 170 self-development workshops, presentations and updates in the translation industry. The team brought back some valuable info from various sessions.

Here are some interesting lessons from the conference that we wanted to share.

Will machine translation replace traditional forms of translations? Machine translation, which describes emerging technologies for computer-generated translation, is a tool that continues to be researched and developed. While a sophisticated tool, machine translation is still being researched to see how it can increase efficiency in the industry.

For this reason, traditional translators do not need to fear being replaced with machine translation. The main competition is not machine translation, it is the tech-savvy translators who stay up-to-date and adapt to new technologies. This is why it is important as language professionals to seek self-development and continue to grow technical skills relative to new emerging technologies in the marketplace.

A growth mindset is ideal as technology advances in our industry and the world. Having a positive growth mindset, initiative, and self-motivation to learn new technologies is likely to help one grow as a professional in the language services industry. This does not only apply to translators; an adaptation to new technologies is necessary whether you are a translator, interpreter, project manager, audio visual technician, or more.

Interpreters: want to learn how you can stay tech-savvy in our industry? Barry Olsen of the InterpretAmerica community continuously posts review videos on emerging interpreting technologies. Learn more here.

IQ Is Not the Most Important Professional Skill

During a session with Winnie Heh, career advisor and instructor of interpretation at Middlebury Institute of International Studies, EQ or emotional intelligence was proven to be more effective in job performance than hard skills for our industry.

While the hard skills are also essential to perform consistently, soft skills can make or break a business relationship. But what do these soft skills look like? Emotional intelligence ensures that work is more productive due to flexibility, self-motivation, and a team-work mindset. Having these soft skills may increase productivity by preventing tension in the workforce and allowing for valuable and lasting business relationships.

Digital Branding Keeps You Ahead of the Pack

As independent contractors, creating a unique brand for yourself is crucial to success as it differentiates you from the competition. Translators and interpreters must seize every opportunity to brand themselves as a unique and valuable resource. They can leverage their digital presence to communicate the value that they add through their content on LinkedIn and social media.

It is not uncommon for clients to view social media prior to working together with a new resource. Therefore, a consistent brand message throughout social media, websites, and e-mail can be a powerful tool.

Not sure where to start? Click here for a simple guide from the familiar site LinkedIn.

Mentorship Revitalizes the Industry

In Winnie Heh’s session, Winnie discussed the decrease in students studying foreign languages. Because of this growing dilemma, it is crucial for our industry to seek ways to help grow and develop the language services workforce. This can be achieved by contributing to language schools and through mentorship for people in the earlier stages of their professional careers. An example of how language services professionals can help this way is by actively joining a mentorship program, such as the American Translators Association’s. Click here to learn more about this program.

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