In response to The Professional Interpreter’s post Are professional conferences and organizations valuable? I replied:
I think that, in general, professional conferences are great! I don’t go to them all the time—one a year on average—but I always make some valuable personal/professional connections, and I always learn more about how to be better at what I do. For example, at the Conference of Interpreter Trainers in 2010, I met Miako (Villanueva) Rankin. We happened to chat at a lunch table, and now she is one of my master’s thesis committee members. Another example: I attended a Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf regional conference in 1998 and learned some life-changing lessons about participant-presenter interactions that have stayed with me both as a participant and a presenter of workshops.
I also think it helps to find more than one reason to go to a conference. When I attended the 2006 CIT conference in San Diego, it was a chance to visit my parents and friends in the city I had moved away from two years before. When I attended other conferences, such as the National Association of Black Interpreters (NAOBI), I was there as a presenter but I reveled in the warm welcome I received even though I am not black and I loved the festive atmosphere and cross-cultural exchange.
A conference is what you make it. If you can network and make friends and/or academic/professional relationships, combine both learning and teaching, and enjoy the city you’re visiting, I think a conference can be a great boon to one’s career.
P.S. I didn’t put all these links in my comment on The Professional Interpreter; I added them here. 🙂