Recap of the 2017 DVTA Summit, a Second Perspective

By: Kristin Lynch

The DVTA held its second annual East Coast Translators and Interpreters Summit at La Salle University on May 6th, 2017. The event drew a number of professional linguists, industry speakers and students of translation and interpretation from across the greater Delaware Valley. I attended the first DVTA Summit as a recent graduate of La Salle’s Hispanic Institute, and had the pleasure of attending this year as a translation project manager.

After colleagues networked over coffee, the Summit kicked off with a Morning Eye Opener, where industry professionals offered their perspectives on the fields of translation and interpretation.  Jiri Stejskal, CEO of Cetra Language Solutions, approached the translation and interpreting industry from a global perspective and offered his view on how current economic and technology trends may affect the work of translators and interpreters. Jaqueline Ortiz, Director of Language Services at Christiana Care Health System, stressed the importance of developing cultural competence and providing accurate language services to reduce disparities amongst limited English speaking patients within the U.S. healthcare system. Interpreter administrator for the PA Court System, Osvaldo Avilés, spoke about the role that legal translators and interpreters have in assuring that limited English proficient individuals have access to the judicial system. The talks were followed by a question and answer session before attendees parted ways for their morning sessions.

Morning sessions covered a wide range of topics from the art of subtitling and new trends in translation technology to the structure of the Philadelphia court system.  I attended the session “What’s New in Translation Technology” given by Kenneth Farrall of MTM LinguaSoft. In this session I learned about new cloud-based CAT (computer assisted translation) tools that help streamline the translation process by facilitating collaboration between linguists.  As a project manager I work with CAT tools on a daily basis and have always been fascinated by their impact on the translation process.  With his strong background in cross-cultural communication and electronic media, Ken provided a thought-provoking and detailed introduction to neural machine translation, CAT tools, translation memory, and quality assurance tools like Xbench. He stressed both the advantages and disadvantages of working with these tools, and suggested ways that linguists can learn and adapt to new technology instead of being disrupted by it.  Many of the linguists in the session had varying degrees of familiarity with technology and different levels of experience, so it was fascinating to hear their reactions to new translation technologies.

After lunch with a traditional music session by Javier Aguilar, attendees had the option of several sessions focusing on forensic transcription and interpretation, bias in the field of medical interpreting, and new terminology in the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy. My interest in sociolinguistics and prior experience as a Spanish-English translator drew me to Deborah Wexler’s session on the newest additions to the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy. Deborah, a Spanish translator and editor specialized in subtitling, compiled a list of all the new terms added to the latest edition of the Royal Academy with the hope that Spanish translators and interpreters would use it as a resource to increase their vocabulary. During an engaging and informative session, Deborah provided definitions of around 300 new terms. Needless to say, it was interesting to both see and hear the influence of the English language on many of these words, like jonrón (home run). I was also surprised to see how many new words related to professions were added, such as bloguero (blogger), fotoperiodista (photojournalist), and paleobiólogo (paleobiologist).

The Summit ended with an interactive panel on the secondary trauma experienced by medical and legal interpreters. Although not an interpreter myself, I was glad to see this topic addressed since I learned that many interpreters are exposed to trauma and need ways to cope. In all, the DVTA organized a great event with knowledgeable and engaging speakers. I am looking forward to next year’s Summit and am eager to see the DVTA continue to foster knowledge and expertise for professionals in the translation and interpretation industry.

Recap of the 2017 DVTA Summit

By: John Leahy

I had the pleasure of attending the DVTA’s Translator and Interpreter’s Summit on May 6th. I have to say, this was the best T&I seminar I have attended in a long time! I not only learned a lot, but I had a great time. The summit was located on the campus of La Salle University, which is the home of The Hispanic Institute, where certificate programs and a Master’s degree program are offered in Translation and Interpretation.

There was an opening ceremony and then a “Morning Eye Opener” where three pillars of the industry offered global, legal and medical perspectives in translation and interpretation. Jiri Stejskal, CEO of CETRA Language Solutions, Jacqueline Ortiz, Director from Christiana Care Health System, and Osvaldo Aviles from the Administrative Office of the PA Courts all made presentations, followed by a question and answer session.

In the morning, there were three seminar options: Kenneth Farrall from MTM Linguasoft presented “What’s New in Translation Technology?”; Deborah Wexler, a translating/subtitling specialist gave a presentation entitled “Subtitling 101: What, How and Where”; and Enrique Garcia, a PA State Courts Staff Interpreter, gave a seminar on “The Structure of the Courts: An Interpreter’s Perspective”. I chose to attend the subtitling seminar since that is an area I am interested in. I have to say, Deborah’s presentation was excellent! She went over everything from soup to nuts about subtitling. She showed us real life examples, explained what is expected by companies who hire subtitlers, and even gave us a list of companies and contacts to send our resumes to. Following her workshop, she made time for a Q&A session. Deborah Wexler is someone who has experience not only in subtitling, but she also hires subtitlers. What a great speaker and an extremely informative experience!

In the afternoon, Enrique Garcia presented “An Introduction to Forensic Transcription and Translation (T/T)”, Deborah Wexler gave a seminar on “Meet the Newish Kids on the Block: New Words in the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy”, and Jacqueline Ortiz spoke about “Unconscious Bias”. I had selected Enrique Garcia’s forensic transcription and translation seminar. Enrique gave a very complete presentation explaining translation and transcription, how the reports should be correctly written, and the difficulties inherent in this type of translation. I learned so much during this presentation! Enrique gave great examples on each of the topics he covered. Enrique’s experience with translation and transcription is apparent and he skillfully presented invaluable information for newcomers to this type of work.

The last seminar of the day was the “Secondary Trauma Panel”. Heidi Velhagen, CHI and Supervisor at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Deborah Saldaña, CMI and Interpreter Trainer, NICHC; Kristen Woodruff, Critical Incident Response Team, MLH; and Ashley Sonson, Licensed Social Worker, Penn Presbyterian all participated in this interactive panel. I have to say, this was such an awesome activity! We all know that as medical and/or judicial interpreters, we see good things but we also witness some very tragic situations. Many times, the interpreter has no place to vent or decompress after a traumatic interpreting situation. This panel discussed these situations and also talked about some ways interpreters can deal with the stress of secondary trauma. I would definitely like to have another panel like this in the future, since many times the interpreter has no one to turn to after experiencing a high stress work situation. Congratulations to the DVTA for addressing this topic.

I really would like to thank the DVTA team, who worked very hard for many months to put together this impressive seminar. The luncheon that was served was delicious and we even had live music, thanks to Javi Aguilar. I learned so much during the summit. The speakers were top notch and they shared their real life experiences with the attendees. I look forward to the next DVTA event!

Tips on Getting and Keeping Agency Clients

The article below was written as a guest post for the American Translators Association (ATA) Savvy Newcomer blog by our own DVTA president, Tony Guerra. Tony is also involved in numerous volunteer activities for ATA, including as National Chapters Chair, interpretation Policy Advisory Committee, the PR Committee’s Speakers Forum, and ATA’s Mentoring Program.

Reblogged from The Savvy Newcomer with permission from the author

After a ten-year stretch as director of the interpreting department for a mid-sized language company on the East Coast, I have recently reentered the freelance world. The language industry has changed considerably for independent contractors since I last worked as an interpreter, and while there is more work to be had, there are also more interpreters and more rigorous standards, certification requirements and regulations. I have encountered the freelance challenges of self promotion, procuring assignments, and negotiating scrutiny in the face of fierce competition. I’ve taken stock of what interests me, what I am good at, my current qualifications and of course, what is in demand.

My strategy is to secure work with agencies as much as possible to build my practice, while concurrently developing my skills, accreditations and specializations.

Below is a systematic approach which breaks down the various elements or steps in the process. This is not intended to be linear but rather circular in that many of the elements can be revisited and are interchangeable, overlapping and ongoing.

RESEARCH

Knowledge is power. Keeping current means staying informed of latest trends, new regulations, recent developments and relevant technology to better understand your place in the business. Starting with a thorough and honest self-assessment will help you know how you fit into the professional spectrum and how you stack up against the competition, in order to leverage your services. This self examination can be critical in determining if and how you are equipped to be a successful freelancer in the language industry.

Self-Evaluation

Education: What was your field of study, what degrees or certifications have you attained or do you need to attain to adequately compete?

Skills and Proficiency: For interpreters, modes in simultaneous, consecutive, or sight, and for translators, what CAT tools and formats do you work in and what is your maximum capacity of words per day?

Background: What are your working language pairs and are they equally bi-directional? Are you a native speaker of one or both languages of your pair (for interpreters) or of the target language (for translators)? Have you lived or worked in the non-native country? How many years have you worked in the industry?

Personal considerations: Are there any health or family restrictions? Interpreters: Are you willing to travel? Do you have the time and resources to service a large geographical area? With small children, how many hours a day can you dedicate? Are you the main breadwinner in your family and are you capable of working at this on a part-time or full-time basis? Are you financially able to weather seasonal dry spells? This may influence the volume of work you may need to generate as an independent contractor.

Industry Evaluation

Where is the work? Is there enough work for your language pair in your region to sustain a career in the language industry? Do you plan to work solely as an interpreter, a translator or both?

What is the going rate for your services in your region?

How unique is your language group – locally or nationally – and how do your qualifications compare to those of your colleagues with similar education and backgrounds?

What and where are some of the dominant or obvious business opportunities for your language group (e.g. Pashtu/Government, Japanese/Patents). If you know that the demand for your specialization is greater than the qualified supply, it is advisable to assess the current industry value, capitalize on that uniqueness and strategically position yourself accordingly.

Agency Evaluation

Once some of the questions above have been addressed, you can begin to research and explore the agencies which might best fit some of the above established criteria. For most interpreters, starting with a local search makes the most sense. Working through your local Chapter as well as the ATA for their corporate members is another good place to begin. The ATA annual conference attracts agencies from all over the country that have legal, medical, business and government clients in states beyond the location of their headquarters. Referrals from colleagues whom you trust and respect can also be a great way to expand your services to new agencies. Ultimately, you want to find agencies that are a good match for your services and that are reputable. It is always a good idea to cross-reference a new or unknown agency with other experienced and respected colleagues.

RESUMÉ / CV

Once you have identified and captured your qualifications, you will need to organize and present your profile in a single document tailored specifically to feature your professional language skills. For most agencies, a one or two-page resumé should suffice to accurately package your services. Your resumé is your single most powerful marketing tool. It is your opportunity to tell your story, to pitch your unique services to a Project Manager (PM) or Vendor Manager. These are typically the ones who receive, analyze, file or discard solicitations by hundreds of applicants both locally and internationally. A resumé should be above all truthful, well organized and formatted, concise and easy to read, with consistent and accurate grammatical structure. I have seen too many resumés tossed because of poor planning, typos, gaps of information, or language skills hidden in obscure places where they are easily missed. Polish your resumé so that it is outstanding and structured so that your most salient skills are immediately recognizable at a glance.

For higher-level work (e.g. legal document review, conferences) a longer CV may be desirable which details the years, clients and specific nature of complex assignments. Resumés should always be sent in a protected format such as encrypted PDF to protect your information and prevent tampering or piracy.

PROMOTION: GETTING/KEEPING THE WORK

Promotional Materials

Once you have conducted the necessary research to identify the targeted ideal agencies, you will need to put together an organized outreach strategy to circulate your resumé for potential work. Utilize LinkedIn and treat it as an extension of your resumé. If you do not have a website, recruiters doing a simple Google search of your name will find your LinkedIn profile. If not already a member of ATA or your local ATA chapter, invest the time and minor funds to join and tap into the terrific resources each offers. The better agencies will always resort to the directory in their searches for linguists. ATA, Chapter or Affiliate networking and educational events offer not only professional development and social support but also provide the opportunity for face-to-face contact with sponsoring agencies. The ATA annual conference and the ATA directory profile also attract top national agencies searching for talent. More and more professional translators and interpreters are creating websites to promote their services and can be another great marketing tool to reflect a polished, professional image, which can generate a lot of online traffic. Applying the same structural, aesthetic, grammatical and ethical rules as resumés, websites also require additional maintenance and utility. It should be noted that an outdated or dysfunctional website can be detrimental to landing a job and worse, to your reputation.

Introductory and Follow-up Emails

An email is your chance to close the deal, especially if acquiring your services may satisfy a deficiency in an agency’s language roster or fill a void for the loss of another vendor through illness, death or relocation. If you are following up with an agency after personally meeting with the owner, vendor manager or PM, be sure to add a personal touch, recapping the event with perhaps an anecdote reminding them of a chat you might have had or a colleague’s introduction or referral. If you are reaching out cold, try to make it as personable as possible, addressing it to the appropriate person. Emails with an impersonal opening, poor grammar or spelling in the target language might be deleted without even getting the resumé attachment opened. Because you never have a second chance to make a good first impression, an introductory email has to strike the right note and indicate the courtesy, professionalism and communication skills that would be desirable from a vendor representing the agency if ultimately hired. At the risk of being obvious, when presented with a job opportunity, not missing deadlines and returning emails in a timely fashion are sacrosanct to a successful practice.

CULTIVATING THE RELATIONSHIP

One of the most rewarding aspects of our profession and an additional benefit of working with multiple agencies is the variety of assignments you can enjoy in a given week. Both legal and medical certification programs require continuing professional development as part of the code of conduct and ethics. Developing skills through diverse workshops, courses and accreditation programs, besides refining our skills, can permit you to expand the types of agencies, clients and settings that require language access. Once an agency evaluates an independent contractor as a top-tier vendor, they will always call on them first when a choice assignment becomes available because they know they can rely on quality, with consistent, fairly priced services. Another great way to keep your profile prominent on an agency’s radar is to regularly communicate to them new certifications achieved, new industries you are able to cover or an increase in your availability. Once you become a regular and can develop a relationship with one or two PMs, remind them of your services, keeping them informed by contacting them with vacation notices, birth notices and/or Christmas cards. PMs will often share these with co-workers and the preferred status is then shared among departments. All of these individuals are more than clients; they are human beings who – in addition to appreciating quality, flexibility and punctuality – respond to kindness, humor and courtesy.

 

2017 East Coast Interpreters and Translators Summit

DVTA is proud to announce the return of the East Coast Interpreters and Translators Summit on Saturday, May 6, 2017. The second annual event will feature a one-day slate of sessions on topics ranging from words recently added to the Real Academia Española’s official Spanish dictionary to situations in which linguists may incur secondary trauma and how to handle them. Our Board is pleased to have lined up a number of key speakers, including local language industry professionals Jiri Stejskal, CETRA’s CEO and former ATA president, and Deborah Saldaña, NICHC interpreter trainer, as well as Deborah Wexler, a translator and subtitling specialist who resides in California.

DVTA and/or ATA members may register for the event at a special early bird rate until March 26, after which the regular rate will apply until April 20. The Summit has received approval for 6 ATA CEU credits, with other continuing education points pending approval. We are also looking forward to hosting an ATA certification exam sitting on the following day, May 7.

La Salle University has graciously agreed to host this year’s event again, and we are all looking forward to a great time of education and networking while we enjoy the company of our fellow language professionals.

To register and find more information, please visit www.regonline.com/2017dvtaeastcoastsummit

DVTA Hosts September ATA Certification Exam

Sunday morning, September 11, was the first time the DVTA held a computerized sitting of the ATA certification exam. There were three proctors: Vicki Hain Poorman, Linda Pollack-Johnson, and Helge Gunther. We originally expected 10 candidates, but one switched to a sitting later in the month in the D.C. area. Candidates for this sitting still had the option to hand-write the exam, but all chose to use their laptops. They were testing in four language combinations, between English and Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Mandarin.

Things started a bit late due to some confusion with the venue staff about times, but the Vision for Equality folks could not have been more helpful. We really are grateful to them for all they did. They arranged the room so each of the nine candidates had a table to him- or herself, with space for a laptop and dictionaries, all spaced around the perimeter of the room so we proctors could observe from behind them with minimal disturbance. We extended the ending time a little to make sure everyone could use the full three hours allotted.

The candidates brought their own laptops. Several of them were from out of DVTA’s coverage area, including one who came all the way from Oregon! Helge was our Mac expert. Linda and I were particularly grateful she was there, since two of our three Mac users needed a bit of tech help at the start. Otherwise, things went pretty smoothly overall. ATA exam rules allowed the candidates to use limited internet aids, including Linguee and the lookup feature of WordReference, but no forums or chat rooms such as ProZ. And (need I even say it?) NO Google Translate! There was a list of permitted and prohibited sites that was sent to the candidates (and to me as head proctor) beforehand.

As someone who took the exams too many years ago to count, I was interested to see how the process went this time. Fortunately, there was no “drama” to report. No one argued with the rules, or appeared to be trying to use unauthorized assistance. A couple of candidates finished a little earlier than the others and left; we had to stop the rest of them when time was up. All were friendly and cooperative. I learned about several new (to me) internet resources for translators and writers, largely from the list of sites provided. (I mostly work in interpreting these days.)

The only unpleasant surprise was the amount Helge had to pay to park in the lot across the street from the venue, the Cast Iron Building. Warning to attendees at future DVTA events there: The parking seemed outrageous to me! Take public transportation if you can, or carpool and share the cost.

All in all, I enjoyed the experience and hope the DVTA will be able to host future sittings of the ATA exams in which candidates may use computers. There is still, I would say, a minor bug or two in the process, but it makes a lot of sense in terms of reflecting how we really work today. Many, many thanks to my fellow proctors, Linda and Helge, and to the DVTA board for agreeing to give this a try.   

Vicki Hain Poorman, M.A., CMI – Spanish