Why attend a professional association AGM in person, when it is offered in hybrid form?

On Friday evening, I attended the AGM of UNIVERSITAS Austria – Berufsverband für Dolmetschen und Übersetzen – an association that I joined in 2020, just as the pandemic was taking hold. Consequently, this was the first event that I had attended in person. The AGM was held in hybrid form, and previously I had attended events in virtual form – as had been the norm during the pandemic.

I chose to attend in person to take advantage of a new members’ networking session beforehand and further chances to network afterwards. I know some people might struggle with in presence AGMs – but they are really worth attending in person if you can. If you find physical attendance daunting, arrange to meet someone you know there.

An AGM is a good networking event

It was great to talk to other members – catching up with some after a long time and also speaking to others for the first time. It provided me with a good opportunity to catch up with other translators and interpreters. Some I hadn’t seen for several years, and I was able to meet others in person for the first time, although some of whom I knew from posts on LinkedIn – as fellow #litranslators. It was a good opportunity to also have a chance to finally meet various board members in person.

For me, membership of an association is not a one way street: it is not just about “taking”, but considering and acting upon what I can also “give back” to a profession I have been part of for 24 years. So many professionals work on their own in an industry dominated by BigLang, so solidarity with my fellow professionals is essential. After all, I remain a SPLSU, albeit as part of an organisation with a far higher headcount.

Events, certification and mentoring

Universitas certification and mentoring are areas that I hope to be contribute to. Associations are also vital for relevant CPD measures, and Universitas is very receptive in this area. There are some exciting events planned for this year – the association’s platinum (70th) jubilee year.

As a full-time in-house translator, in a predominantly freelance/self-employed industry, or one with many people for whom translation/interpreting is only a component of their working life (job splitting), it is important to appreciate the issues affecting the profession (and not just the industry).

Turning a corner

Attending an AGM in person is also a way to gauge the health of an association – to see at first hand how the work falls on the (few or many) sets of shoulders of the board and its committees. The previous winter had been a tumultuous one – with a series of meetings that at one stage had even had the dissolution of the association on the table.

The outcome had been to have a paid administrator – an option I supported from personally having been an executive secretary of a non-profit organisation at an earlier stage of my career. It was pleasing to see that the association is turning a corner and making progress to a more stable and professional footing.

Thanks should again go to Universitas’ board and volunteers dedicating their time to furthering our profession. I’ll definitely be looking forward to attending more in-presence events.

Why not join?

If you are a translator in Austria, or even outside of Austria, and have not joined, why not reconsider? Universitas is a nationwide association, with logical ties to the ZTW in Vienna, INTRAWI in Innsbruck and ITAT in Graz. While the lion’s share of members translate into or from the “Big 5 EU languages”, there are many members covering far more languages.

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