For our second guest post, we invited Catherine Christaki of LinguaGreca Translations to share her thoughts on what lifelong learning really means to a linguist’s job description.
Translators today are spoilt for choice when it comes to CPD; the vast variety of available resources help us become better translators and interpreters, work faster and more efficiently, and specialise further in our chosen fields. All in all, we get to be better entrepreneurs. Oh, and the learning is fun and, often free!
University education is merely the foundation of our learning experience. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) or Continuing Professional Education (CPE) is what helps us become better and more successful in our work. CPD covers any educational learning activity that helps professionals develop, maintain or increase their skills and knowledge so they can provide better (and yes, higher paid) services.
The Institute of Translation and Interpreting provides a nice definition of CPD:
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is the systematic maintenance, improvement and broadening of knowledge and skills. It also encourages the development of personal qualities necessary for the execution of professional duties throughout your working life.
There have been so many changes in the last ten to fifteen years in terms of the resources available to linguists. When I graduated from university in 2001, the only CPD I would have been able to do would be a Master’s Degree, or a second Bachelor’s Degree. Maybe even go to a conference abroad, but the very few translation conferences back then were more about the academic theory and/or methods of translation (i.e. translation theory books were more fun to read, if you know what I mean).
There were no blogs, webinars, workshops, online resources, no fora for translators to learn from their peers, even mentorship programs were scarce. It’s so different, in an awesome way, nowadays. With so many CPD opportunities, most of them online, hence location-independent, learning new skills that improve the way we work is part of our daily working routine.
Isn’t CPD for newbies mostly?
It’s as essential for recent graduates as it is for more experienced linguists. There are of course plenty of resources available that are more generalised and geared towards newbies, but most of the times CPD is about learning a new skill or improving upon the skills you have (e.g. if you are a veterinary translator, it would be useful to take the Veterinary Medicine for translators course) and those you need to become a better freelancer, i.e. business-owner (like a writing course or a business school).
Experience is important, but it does not guarantee expertise. CPD involves regular, reflective practice and is the hallmark of a professional.
In many fields, you can’t translate without CPD
When you have an interpreting assignment, you have to prepare first, correct? By reading background information, for the legal case (if you are a court interpreter), for the company and/or the field (if you are a conference interpreter), for the patient and the medical procedure (if you are a medical interpreter) and so forth. To be even better prepared, you also need to learn more about the fields you specialise in. To do that, you can take part in workshops, conferences, webinars or simply read articles and/or blogs online to freshen up on the things you know and learn all about the advances in that specific field.
For example, I translate for Apple, software strings and Help files. To be able to provide accurate translations, I have to make sure to keep up with every new service, device, application and feature Apple provides, as well all the latest technologies in the Information Technology field. So, I read IT and technology blogs and magazines, I attend events and conferences, I’ve even taken a computer science class to learn as much as possible about my favorite field of specialisation.
Will CPD help me find clients?
It sure will! All forms of CPD activities bring you closer to potential clients. In a direct way, like in conferences and events or through connecting and sharing on social media, or in an indirect way. For example, you can write a post on your blog about the latest conference you attended and what you learned and then share that post with industry-related (non-translation) groups on social media (especially LinkedIn) or send the people you met at the event an email with a link to your post and ask for their feedback. Or, you can write an insightful comment in the blog of a potential client; it’s a great way to connect.
That said, I don’t think you need to advertise the full record of your CPD activities on your site or other online profiles. Just pick the ones that boost your image and reputation as a professional and as a linguist in your specialty fields and include them along with your insight in your site, blog, newsletter, profiles, even in your marketing materials (like a brochure).
Share the knowledge!
The same way you learn from your colleagues, through mentorship programmes, workshops, webinars and presentations at conferences, you can also help your peers with your specialised knowledge. We should all consider giving back to our peers to pay forward all the help we have received. Apart from a way to diversify your services (if you offer paid training), it’s also a great feeling and a brilliant way to network with your colleagues!