Diving Head First Into the World of Professional Translation – With a Little Help From CTA

By Michael Benson
CTA student member

58 years of success in reaching common goals, networking, and paving the way for future generations of translators. The annual conference of the American Translators Association took place in Washington, D.C., at the end of October 2017. It was a full weekend of workshops, talks, and demonstrations. Experiencing the conference truly was incredible. The organization, all the moving parts, and the camaraderie really stood out to me. As a college student, I felt like I might be in over my head. With over 11,000 members from all over the world, I thought I was too small and inexperienced to fit in. I didn’t think there was a place for me since I am in the very beginning stages of my career.

It started out as a conversation with my translation professor. Our class learned about what the American Translators Association was and we heard about their annual conference. Although MSU Denver had never sent students to the conference, my professor saw this as an opportunity for students to get valuable insight into what a career in translation and interpretation would look like, and she was right. The tricky part was the logistics of actually getting to the conference, all the way across the country, and becoming a member. I put together a team including two other students and myself. We were very excited about the idea of making it to the conference, but when we began looking into it we soon realized that the financial burden of executing this trip was too much for our budgets. We felt like a few broke college students with an unreachable goal, but we kept at it. Even after securing partial funding from our school, it simply was not within our budgets.

Seeking help from CTA

A little discouraged, we took a step back and thought about how we could obtain this goal. After exhausting all avenues through our school community, we took things to the next level and reached out to our local Colorado Interpreters & Translators Association. I was honored and delighted with the sincerity and enthusiasm with which the CTA greeted us. I could tell they were committed to their field and had a bright vision for the future by the way they communicated with us, as eager students. After creating a dialog, we felt welcomed by the CTA and they expressed excitement to work with us on creating a foundation for our careers in translation. They were very helpful and wanted us to get a glimpse of the profession in the form of attending an ATA conference. I don’t want to say I was surprised, because I understand why the CTA wants to show support to people who are interested in translation, but I was excited and humbled by the CTA’s willingness to lend us (students and newcomers) a hand in getting to the conference.

We became student members of the CTA and quickly felt more involved with the translation community. This is when we realized how much potential exists when a group like this works together. I can say with confidence that without the CTA, I would still have that same feeling of being too small to really get myself in the door and start a career in translation. They were very helpful in providing us with the means to become members and register for the ATA 58th annual conference. In coordination with MSU Denver and the CTA, I started to feel like I was actually taking my first steps towards asserting myself into the career I want so badly. Creating these contacts with the CTA really allowed me to envision, and start planning a future for myself.

An amazing experience

The conference in DC was an amazing experience. I was impressed by the level of professionalism and the amount of resources available to seasoned translators, as well as those just starting out. It was almost overwhelming being exposed to so much information, but I left the conference with a wealth of knowledge and strong motivation. The conference was a great welcome present to the industry, but becoming acquainted with the CTA was the real gift from this experience, and I am still reaping the benefits of that relationship even after the conference.

My willingness to join and partner with the CTA allowed me to expand my horizons. I agreed to continue with the CTA and sign up for their new mentorship program in exchange for the crucial aid we received from them to get us to the conference. I saw this as a true win-win situation for myself. They went out of their way to help me as long as I continued to exhibit determination and dedication to translation. They seem passionate about creating a successful future for students of translation and they have created a great network for translators to communicate and reach common goals.

The accountability from the CTA really pushed me to get out there and start making moves, which has started me down a path where I feel like I belong. Now I can look forward to 2018 with confidence that I am on track to becoming a successful translator with the support I need to make it happen. The experience, knowledge, and resources that the CTA has to offer couldn’t have come at a better time for me, with graduation just semesters away. Being part of a team like this eliminates my feeling of being too small or insignificant to jump into a competitive field like translation. My learning has just begun, but now that I have the CTA in my corner, I feel more equipped than ever to reach my personal goals.


CTA student member Michael Benson

About the author

Michael Benson is a student at Metropolitan State University of Denver, where he is pursuing a translation certificate with a major in Spanish and a minor in hotel management. He will be graduating in the spring of 2019.