Being the Best

So, it is now about a week since I found out that I have been elected to the ITI Board for a second term. Before I go any further, I would like to say that I would have been happy with either result. Valeria Aliperta is a true professional who has really contributed to the industry. I hope she has the opportunity to serve on the board in future.

In common with fellow new board member, Andrew Leigh, the election and its subsequent result has made me really think about the profession. This post is my attempt to crystallise a few of my thoughts.

1)      I think the we are in desperate need of new, innovative partnerships

The life of a new translator or interpreter seems to still be fraught with peril and disappointment. Too few have the chance to learn from events like a SWATI day or from courses like the OCourse and PSG course about what life will really be like. Probably many would find paying for a course too much of a strain in the early days. We therefore need to work harder on smoothing the path from qualification to professionalization.

I see a few ways to do this. First, we need information. We really need to hear from a broad spectrum of freelancers as to what their career paths were like. We need to know what they felt the gaps were (and still are!) in their knowledge and we need to find a way of creating an open forum for people to talk honestly about their difficulties. I will be hoping to present an idea to the board to do just that.

The second thing we need is to work out how universities, professional organisations, agencies/clients and experienced freelancers can work together to help new entrants to the profession. Better use can and should be made of new technologies. Contact needs to be made with students at a fairly early point in their course. Business skills training needs to be given the same importance and impetus as training in how to translate or interpret. We can only do that together!

2)      We need to make the most of ITI’s uniqueness

I know it is controversial but name me one other professional association in our industry in the UK where clients and freelancers can go to the same conferences, the same training days and share meals together. This is part of what makes ITI special and should not be changed.

In fact, I think we need to make more of it. What if we had a Meet the Freelancers day as a mirror image of the Meet the Client day? What if we had roundtables on traditionally taboo subjects. What if we could present national bodies with proposals for large-scale contracts that have backing from both freelancers and agencies?

Like it or not, we need each other. Agencies need freelancers and many freelancers need agencies. We are not and never should be enemies. Can we make the most of what we have and use it productively?

3)      Nick got it right!

In his last Chairman’s column, Nick Rosenthal appealed to us to be the best that we can be. To me, this means making the most of the people we have and praising them. It means continually thinking about what we do and why. It means not being afraid to shake the boat a little.

For me personally, it also means that we need to work harder to provide more for interpreters. Ok, so the last issue of the ITI Bulletin was chock full of goodies for interpreters. Still, the balance of our CPD provision is aimed at translators. Perhaps the interpreters on the board and on committees need to get their heads together to think up ideas for CPD days for interpreters that aren’t just about notetaking and basic booth techniques. What about training in glossary building, project research, gaining direct interpreting clients and the like?

Nick has done a great job as chair and his final column reads like a rallying cry. I really hope that the new board can take up the baton and be the best we can be. ITI deserves it. The profession deserves it.

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