The ATA Conference from a Student’s Perspective

For the second year in a row, CTA sponsored three Metropolitan State University Denver students to attend the ATA Conference. In this article, Clint Horan, Lauren Barclay, and Michael Benson share their conference experience from a student’s perspective.

MSU STudents at ATA59 New Orleans

ATA59 New Orleans: A City Abuzz with Translators

Clint Horan: Every career, professional or collegiate, can benefit from an inspirational boost, a meeting designed to teach and motivate its attendees.  That boost came for me recently over the last weekend of October.  As a student, I was fortunate to attend the 59th Annual Conference of the American Translators Association in New Orleans.  Participating had many positive effects on my pursuit of a career in translation.

A senior major of Spanish at MSU Denver, I had never attended a professional conference until this semester.  Wanting to gain some exposure back in September, I started with the Translation Colloquium at MSU Denver, presented by the Department of Modern Languages.  This event featured many prominent members of the Colorado Translators Association and was incredibly informative.  A couple weeks later, I attended some of the North American Symposium of Galician Studies on campus at MSU.  These were some great first steps in both gaining knowledge and initial networking.

Next, we put together a team of three students from MSU Denver along with our faculty advisor and professor in Spanish translation and planned to attend the ATA conference in New Orleans.  Thanks to the CTA for some generous sponsorship, we were able to make this conference a reality.  I work part-time as a doorman at a hotel in downtown Denver, so I’ve worked many conferences, but to actually attend such a big production was just incredible! ATA59 MSU Students

It was very stimulating to find so many sessions available.  Each segment offered between 12 to 15 sessions focusing on over 12 different languages.  I attended sessions in both English and Spanish on topics as varied as medicine, government, education and human trafficking, among others.  I was impressed by the work each presenter had put in to creating a memorable seminar.  Also, each was generous with their time in fielding questions about their profession.

This conference was a great place to network and build a closer bond with colleagues.  The exhibitors fair was an avenue to meet other professionals and to gain further orientation to the business.  Also, being part of a university team in attendance, we students and our professor were able to share our experiences with one another, and that will add value to this trip by having friends with whom to recall conference events.

All in all, I was excited to have attended the ATA conference.  I learned a lot and made meaningful connections.  I appreciated the introduction to a professional organization that will be with me throughout my career.  It has afforded me a wide breadth of exposure to the various areas of specialization that this industry offers.  I am very grateful for the support extended by the CTA and look forward to a continued partnership in the years to come.


Lauren Barclay: On our way to New Orleans I wasn’t sure what to expect from ATA 59. I was hoping to get some information about how people make a living in translation and to hear some translators talk about their experiences but I ended up walking away with so much more than that! The variety of topics presented each day was amazing; not only was I able to plan out my day using the app but I was able to choose between different areas of translation and subjects that were interesting to me. Everything was punctual and went smoothly in all of the presentations that I attended.

As a student I am still deciding which areas I am interested in and this convention was an excellent way to peek into the worlds of medical, legal, governmental, and scientific translation among others. I heard an amazing talk by Amy Firestone who worked for the US government and with human rights issues which touched on the best ways and correct methods to reach particular target audiences as well as many other issues involving translation, politics, and cultures.

I also went to a presentation by Ana Solotti about the migration of certain birds that was quite fascinating because I am majoring in Environmental Science and it was great to see a connection between my two areas of study. In other talks, I learned a lot about translation tools and software, different ways to network with both clients and other translators, and many other areas of translation I had never considered before.

ATA 59 was an incredible experience for me and it really opened my eyes to the world of translation and interpretation. I wasn’t one hundred percent certain before that a career in translation was for me but after the convention, I became certain that I am going to work towards making it my profession. Thanks to everyone for all of the good times in New Orleans and for the opportunity to nerd out on languages with other like-minded people. I look forward to taking advantage of more of the events offered at the next ATA convention. Thank you so much CTA for your support and I’ll see you all in Palm Springs if not sooner!

ATA59 NOLA MSU Students


Michael Benson: I would like to share my experience of the American Translators Association 59th annual conference that took place in New Orleans, Louisiana this year. New Orleans has a rich culture, and a historically significant past, which created a great setting for a conference that celebrates culture and language. I was accompanied by two of my classmates from the Metropolitan State University of Denver, as well as our very supportive advisor. Just exploring the city after the conference each day was an adventure. Having attended one ATA conference the year prior, I was equipped to make the most of the three days at the conference. As a student, I found the conference very fulfilling.

I started each morning with a cup of coffee in the Exhibitors Hall, preparing myself for the day’s sessions. The Exhibitors Hall was a nice place to stretch your legs and visit different booths that shared a lot of valuable information. There were grad schools, translation/interpreting agencies, and translation software developers, just to name a few examples. I have one more semester before I graduate, so I was pleased to find so much support, specifically for students, as I plan for post-graduation.

MSU STudents in front of ATA SignBetween all the presentations, workshops, and courses, a wide variety of topics were covered at the conference. This allowed my experience to be very personalized. Recently, I have been intrigued by subtitle translation, so it was great to see that there were multiple sessions on the subject. It would have been easy to be intimidated by all the well-seasoned and successful language service professionals who presented at the conference, but they did a good job catering certain sessions towards people at different levels. I never felt out of place. Everyone was welcoming and willing to share their knowledge. I listened carefully and took notes on the most up to date technology and techniques that subtitle translators are using today, and it was inspiring to hear about the endless variety of genres within subtitle translation.

There were resources offered to people who had years of experience, and then there were helpful suggestions for people like me, who are just getting started in the industry. I learned about amazing volunteering opportunities to help gain experience, and everyone was happy to share their contact info with me if I ever have any questions.

The support we have received from the Colorado Translators Association made this trip possible, and their mentorship program is opening doors for me that I could not open on my own. I participated in their mentorship program throughout this past year, and I am very excited for another year under the wing of an experienced translator in 2019. I appreciate the value they place on mentor/mentee relationships because I believe in taking advice from my elders. There is so much left for me to learn, and now that I am about to graduate, I am confident that I can continue working on my translation skills alongside the CTA, and the ATA. Thank you, sincerely. I know this is where I am meant to be.

Palm Springs, California, 2019. ATA60, here I come.