Maximising the benefits
Earlier this year I wrote a post about the benefits of belonging to translators’ assocations. I certainly haven’t changed my mind about that. I love belonging to APTIC (the Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters of Catalonia) and MET (Metropolitan Editors and Translators) and it’s brought me plenty of benefits. This week I’ll be going to the MET annual conference. Earlier this year I went on a very interesting APTIC course. In December I’ll no doubt be going to its excellent Christmas party.
But do I need more? One of the things I’d planned to do this year was investigate joining another association. There’s no shortage of candidates. I could try ASETRAD, the Spanish translators’ association; or I could look at IAPTI, the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters, or the ITI, the Institute of Translation and Interpreting based in London. But do I really want to do that?
Let’s take the last case first. The ITI seems to be a lively, dynamic organisation and I’d be interested in being a member. However, there’s a problem. It has an entrance examination. It seems to me a very fair test of translation ability (you can find details here) but, just a couple of years ago, I invested considerable time, effort and money in passing the entrance examination of its rival association, the Charterted Institute of Linguists (CIoL) for the language combination Spanish-English. The CIoL was then good enough to admit me as a member also for another of my combinations, Catalan-English. So, although being a member of the CIoL has brought me very few direct benefits, other than the simple prestige of being a member, I feel reluctant to get involved in another costly examination process to join the ITI.
What’s more, if I ever did, I would simply switch memberships because, for me, there would be very little point in paying out every year to belong to two UK-based translators’ organisations. If I lived in the UK it might just be worth it, but, based as I am in Catalonia, I can’t honestly say I’d get enough benefit to make it worthwhile.
Because what do we get from translators’ associations? I’ve touched on one or two. Prestige is one benefit that does multiply with the number of associations you belong to. So does credibility, because the more association logos you can have on your website or letters on your e-mail signature the better. Also, some clients will perhaps place greater store on membership of one association than another. Then there are the training courses associations offer, the conferences they organise, the social events they hold and the directories or listings of translators – all very important and useful services.
But there are limits, which is what I was getting at with my question: do I need more? In other words, will membership of four (or five or six) associations make me better off than membership of three? It’s a question I asked myself a few weeks ago when I seriously considered joining IAPTI, and I decided not to do it. Because I really couldn’t see what it could offer me that the associations I already belong to cannot. With APTIC I have a great deal of contact and networking with translators near to where I live, many of them potential customers. With the CIoL I have membership of an organisation in the country where I come from and where my target language is spoken. And with MET I belong to an organisation that organises great training courses and one of the best and most interesting conferences anywhere in the translation world. I probably don’t have time in the year to go to another conference, or do more training or more socialising. Hence my decision to stick on three.
I may be wrong, of course. I may be missing important and interesting opportunities. In a way I’d like someone to tell me I am, because the thought of belonging to more organisations is, in many ways, an attractive one. But my head tells me there must be an optimum number, and I think I’ve probably found it.
Do you belong to more than three translators’ associations? Or do you belong to a particular one that I don’t which you think is especially valuable? Please leave a comment to convince me that I’m wrong to be wary of joining another organisation. I’d love to hear from you.