ATA Conference Takeaways

Written on November 12, 2016 – 4:34 pm | by Emily Taylor

From November 2 to November 5, I attended the 2016 ATA Conference in San Francisco.

The size and scale of the conference were like nothing I had ever experienced before. Rather than try to detail everything about the conference, I’m going to write up my key takeaways.

Go to the exhibit hall

This was actually the highlight of the conference for me! It was a chance to speak to recruiters and other company representatives one-on-one. The job fair was also worthwhile, of course, but it was crowded. Everyone had to wait in line at each booth, meaning there was no time to ask meaningful questions about the positions the company was looking to fill. At the exhibit hall, you had that luxury, especially if you went during a session.

Choose presentations based on the speaker

Don’t just choose sessions based on what you feel you “should” go to. If you know a session is going to be entertaining because you’ve heard good things about the speaker, give it a try, even if the topic isn’t strictly in your area of interest. Chances are, you’ll get more out of an entertaining session than a dry one that you feel like you “should” attend.

Don’t go to every session

Give yourself at least one break. If you attend every session, your brain will be overloaded and you won’t remember it all anyway! Build some downtime into your schedule. Go over what you’ve learned already while sipping coffee in the lounge, or stroll through the exhibit hall and chat with some companies.

Go to the network dinner

If your language division has a network dinner, sign up to attend, even if you feel it’s too pricey. The food isn’t the point – meeting people is. These are people who may refer clients to you in the future. An investment of $50 or however much the dinner costs is a no-brainer.

You are an expert!

If you are a MIIS student, remember: you are an expert! Don’t go into the ATA conference feeling inferior to the other attendees just because you are a student. These other attendees are your colleagues. And don’t skip out on sessions that are labeled “Intermediate” or “Advanced.” You’ll likely be surprised at how much you already know! I went to an “Intermediate” session and found that nearly all of the content had been covered in my translation courses here at MIIS. Wow!


The 2017 ATA Conference will be October 25-28 in Washington, DC. See you there!

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