10 Feb 2021

Easier than ever: CPD pandemic-style

US based interpreter and translator Judy Jenner explains how, despite a global pandemic, it's never been easier to access high quality CPD all round the world.

As a certified court interpreter in two states and at the federal level here in the US, I am well acquainted with having to comply with continuing education requirements to keep my certifications. For me, this is not a chore but one of my favourite parts of the profession: learning and growing, and sharing what I know with others, which also allows me to earn continuing education credits towards my certifications.

As a client who hires translators and interpreters every day, I am often puzzled by colleagues who struggle, at the end of December, to get their credits together to file for certification renewal. Learning and growing should be key for all professionals in any sector or business, and I’ll freely admit that I usually don’t retain linguists who don’t invest in their own growth.

I took an anecdotal look at this recently and, not surprisingly, the linguists I retained most frequently for my business are also the ones I see at conferences – and now online – all the time. I don’t think any linguist would openly say they don’t need professional development because they already know everything, which would be very scary, but some don’t make it a priority. You should! It’s not only good for linguists on an individual level but it shows clients – and colleagues, who could become your clients – that you are serious about the profession and that you are committed to it.

Getting continuing education during this pandemic is now easier than ever. Just turn on your computer and look presentable from the waist up! (Yes, I usually wear tailored suit jackets smartly paired with yoga pants and fluffy socks.)

I’ll freely admit that I usually don’t retain linguists who don’t invest in their own growth.

Judy Jenner

While no one has had a great time during the most terrifying year of most of our lifetimes, I’ve looked very hard for silver linings and I’ve managed to find a few. One of them is my now unparalleled ability to attend more conferences and webinars than ever before thanks to the fact that everything is online, even though I was lucky enough to attend one in-person hybrid event in Bonn, Germany, in July (an AIIC event).

Take, for instance, the annual conference of the Mexican Translators Association (OMT), which is usually held in Guadalajara, Mexico, in conjunction with the Book Fair, at the end of November. Even though it’s been on my radar for years, I’ve never managed to make it because it conflicts with Thanksgiving as well as with NTIF (Nordic Translation Industry Forum), which I’ve been attending for a few years (this year’s Stockholm event was moved online). I was elated that I was able to attend both events and, well, Thanksgiving was the event that was cancelled and couldn’t be moved online. I really enjoyed the online experience of attending both events on different platforms and exploring the pros and cons of both.

What I miss the most, of course – as I am sure all my dear colleagues and readers do – is the time spent with friends at lunch, dinner, and yes, at the bar; creating lasting memories with a glass of wine in hand. Those experiences cannot be replicated online, but learning certainly can.

While one of my certifying bodies told me, years ago, that I need to stop sending proof of 90 hours of continuing education when they are just asking me for 30, I can’t stop attending events just for the pure pleasure of it, and in 2020 and 2021 (so far) I’ve attended more events than I ever thought possible. Some weeks I have two or three events on my calendar, and I am able to make it to most of them as I rarely leave the house these days.

Sure, Zoom fatigue is real and I wish I didn’t have to attend online, but it has advantages. I’ve attended events I’ve been to for years and years, such as the annual conference of the American Translators Association (my 17th year in a row, and first online) and events from smaller, local associations such as the Nevada Interpreters and Translators Association, and free events that have attracted thousands of attendees, including AIIC UK and Ireland’s very impressive series of remote simultaneous interpreting.

Speaking of RSI: what I have enjoyed most about continuing education during the pandemic is the ability to learn and then share very specific skills that were essential to make it through the pandemic, which for me was simultaneous interpreting via Zoom. A dear friend and colleague, Ernesto Niño-Murcia, together with Tamber Hilton and Aimee Benavides, kindly offered to show me the ropes of Zoom simul during a free three-hour session which gave me the skills I needed to start offering this service to clients right away.

My booth partner Anabella Tidona and I were so grateful that we immediately followed Ernesto’s lead and organized several free training sessions for other colleagues, hence paying it forward and allowing colleagues to make a living though the pandemic. After we realized how much work it was to do these trainings, we also added a few paid ones, and have now trained several hundred linguists. It’s fantastic how it’s all come full circle.

I’ve also been delighted to donate my time as a speaker for several events, including the upcoming Innnovation in Interpreting conference February 23 through 25. See you there?


About the writer
Judy Jenner

Judy Jenner is a Spanish and German business and legal translator and court-certified Spanish interpreter as well as conference interpreter in Las Vegas, NV. She co-owns Twin Translations with her twin sister Dagmar, who lives in Vienna, Austria. Judy serves as a spokesperson for the American Translators Association. She teaches T&I at two American universities and is also a tutor on ITI's Advancing your Freelance Translation Career course.

Pre-pandemic, Judy travelled extensively for work, but hasn’t been on a plane since September 2020. Judy’s interpreting claim to fame is having interpreted for then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at a small event. Her special talent is trying to memorise airport codes.