Continuing Professional Development

By May 20, 2014Uncategorized

by Sabina Metcalf

The first weekend of May I was planning to be in Kiev, Ukraine, at a friend’s wedding. A fellow linguist and fashion-lover, my Ukrainian friend is a constant inspiration to me with her unfailing language skills, broad mind, and amazing social abilities. The wedding was supposed to be a very international affair with guests traveling from all over the world, but sadly, politics took charge of the region, and the considerate couple deemed it unwise to put their guests into potential danger. So, instead and for an equally exciting alternative, I decided to make my way to the International Conference for Freelance Translators and Interpreters that was being held over the same weekend in Budapest, Hungary.

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Photo by Sabina Metcalf

Regardless of whether you are a budding translator or a seasoned pro, continuing professional development (CPD) is an important part of your career progression. At every event, be it a conference, a course, or a webinar, you have an opportunity to learn something new about the industry, to contemplate the future of the profession, and, perhaps most importantly, feel like a part of a strong community. However, a recent poll conducted on Proz – the world’s largest community of translators and interpreters – reveals that only a fraction (6.2%) of our colleagues view CPD as an essential part of a linguist’s career. Many of them believe that since there is always something to learn and to practice in both our source and target languages, our work is, in fact, our CPD. But for me, a professional is someone who constantly strives for improvement, who is eager to learn and keen to practice.

Unlike the interpreting profession where you get to communicate with different people almost on a daily basis, translators lead a rather solitary existence: it is often just you, your computer and dictionaries with your ideas and thoughts. If you are lucky, you might have a pet or two to keep you company. It is essential to get out of this little bubble every now and then, and have a chance to network with industry leaders, meet like-minded colleagues, learn about the new developments in your field, and, as an added bonus, travel to a new destination! In fact, I tend to learn as much from my colleagues as I learn from books and Internet sources. I have been working as a translator and interpreter for over a decade, and over the years, I have attended countless CPD events: conferences, workshops, seminars, from London, Bath, and Exeter, to Porto, New York, and Monterey. Never have I come back empty-handed! New vendors for our recruitment department, unique approaches to translation processes, different methods of choosing and handling translation tools. Ultimately, also, encouragement from my colleagues to keep pushing, learning, and developing.

The conference in Budapest was no exception. An entire weekend of talking in different languages, networking and socializing with colleagues and friends. A beautiful city, gorgeous sights, and lovely spring weather. Tasting wonderful Hungarian food such as Hortobágy pancake, Újházy soup, the best duck I have ever eaten, and, of course, Gerbeaud cake. All this accompanied by learning, learning, and learning. With its diverse program of panel discussions and individual sessions, from branding and communication strategies, positioning yourself at an expert level, and building successful relationships with clients, to harnessing the power of good writing, staying ahead of the curve in the ever-changing realm of search engine optimization, and maximizing your productivity using translation tools, the conference offered a great chance to acquire new knowledge and research future opportunities.

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Photo by Sabina Metcalf

Did you know how important social media is in our ever-changing environment? Have you had an inkling that even though globalization is boosting the number of bilingual individuals, the demand for highly specialized translators and interpreters is currently on the rise? Forewarned is forearmed: the future belongs to niche translations, be it fashion, oil and gas, or good old legalese. The world is changing, and our industry is changing but good translations are here to stay.

Translation technology is also developing with ground-breaking speed but human cognitive functions are something machines will likely never replace. Only through striving to become better do we make ourselves more competitive. The translation mantra of the weekend was that we can never compete on price because someone will always go lower, but we can and should compete on quality because you can always go higher. This was the main point that the room full of professional translators and interpreters, all coming from various backgrounds and paths of life, seemed to agree on.

What unites us all is striving for excellence and sharing our passion for communication, culture, and the beautiful diversity of our world. At the Budapest conference, I felt a great sense of community. We seemed to all share a view that continuing professional development is certainly an investment in both our business and our quality of life.

As a side-note, my friends in Kiev had a private marriage ceremony and are on their way to living happily ever after. I am very much looking forward to celebrating with them one day.

Interested in learning what MasterWord Services can offer in terms of continuing professional development? Find out more: