Sunday, 5 January 2014

Broken your New Year Resolutions Already?



Don’t worry.

I don’t really believe in starting New Year resolutions on January 1st. There is still too much festive wine in the fridge, too many naughty chocolates to finish up, and too many New Year parties to go to – not to mention Burns Night towards the end of January (even down here in the south of the UK our neighbourhood has an annual haggis and neaps gathering).

A resolution is a firm decision to take action and I really only look at the proposals tabled in my personal debating chamber once the holidays are over. It may take several days or weeks to come to the actual resolution.

So if you haven’t actually made any firm decision yet about how you can improve your career this year, it’s really not too late.

Here’s a resolution that should be on everyone’s table every year
How about making a firm decision to work on your Continuing Professional Development this year?

First let me dispel a few myths.

The cost of courses is very expensive!
CPD does not have to be expensive. It can even be free! And translators have an especially wide field from which to choose to build their own CPD program. It certainly is not necessary to enrol for a second or third degree.

I would have to dedicate several weeks to a course of learning
CPD does not have to be time-consuming. Just an hour a week undergoing a CPD activity from your home, accompanied by the occasional face-to-face event, will keep your skills and knowledge up to date.

CPD isn’t compulsory, so I don’t have to do it.
The translation profession in the UK is not regulated. In theory anyone can set up as a translator, even if they know no languages at all. To differentiate themselves from the dross, serious translators belong to a professional association, have qualified to join that association, and abide by its code of conduct. In signing the code of conduct translators agree to endeavour to undertake continuing professional development, as appropriate, in order that they can continue to offer the highest possible standards of work by maintaining and updating their language skills, subject knowledge, or any other skills or knowledge necessary for their work. (The words here are taken from ITI’s code).

I studied for years at university; I don’t need to do CPD.
In order to keep up with developments in technology, research and legislation everybody in the workplace, whatever their job, needs to undergo a program of constant training and development. If they are employed, their companies will arrange for such training. Freelancers have to arrange their own.

Having resolved to undergo a program of CPD, you now need to plan and organise it.

Plan, identify, organise, record: 
so much to choose from
The key is to decide on a path to follow, identify suitable activities (background reading, learning new software, attending an online course or webinar), carry them out, make notes and learn, and record what you have done. Set yourself goals and do not allow yourself to be deviated from them.

A typical CPD program could be:

January-February: Investigate an improved accounts program to keep better control of unpaid invoices and find out if it is worth registering for VAT.
March-April: Learn about backing up vital translations and programs more efficiently
May-June: Get to grips with a CAT tool
July-August: Practice source language skills
September-October: Hone knowledge within a specialist field
November-December: Learn and put into practice a few marketing tips

In order to fulfill the above, you will not need to spend shedloads of cash or spend weeks on a course away from home. Much of what you need is available free online from government agencies or from vendors or at very reasonable cost from commercial organisations such as eCPD Webinars. I am a great believer is self-training on new software purchased, rather than paying for a course.

eCPD Webinars was set up specifically for translators and interpreters. It provides appropriate, high-quality learning for professional linguists in many areas of the profession. The company runs many online webinars and courses during term-time, which students can attend live, or view later via a recording, and the library of past webinars contains dozens of highly-acclaimed recorded presentations.

eCPD Webinars is designed to form part of your own personal program of CPD, so today’s advice is to browse through the program to find the right mix for you.

(c) 2014 Lucy Brooks, Managing Director of eCPD Webinars