Today we start a series of posts spotlighting professional organizations for interpreters and translators. There are many benefits to joining a professional organization such as being listed in a member directory, receiving access to free or discounted classes, and opportunities to network with colleagues. The latter is especially important now – in the era of social distancing and cancelled events, it can be hard to find ways to connect with fellow interpreters. This is where professional communities come in – and today, we are learning about one such community: Northwest Translators and Interpreters Society (NOTIS), a Chapter of the American Translators Association (ATA).
Having started as an informal group of ATA members in Washington state, the Northwest Translators and Interpreters Society held its inaugural meeting at the University of Washington on June 4, 1988. As of today, NOTIS has 575 active members in the five states it covers (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska), which makes NOTIS the biggest chapter in the ATA.
Member benefits include being listed in the online member directory, getting access to a members-only job board, an opportunity to be published in the NOTIS newsletter and blog, opportunities to attend NOTIS events free or at a reduced members-only rate, and a chance to win a NOTIS Translation/Interpretation Scholarship.
To find out what makes NOTIS a community worth joining, we interviewed Shelley Fairweather-Vega, NOTIS president and freelance Russian to English translator.
Who should consider joining NOTIS?
Shelley Fairweather-Vega: “Everyone who works in any language field in the Pacific Northwest! We’re the professional home of interpreters and translators at all stages of their careers (students to retirees), working in all fields (medical to literary), working in all kinds of settings (tech companies to courts, freelance and in-house). We often work alone, and time with our colleagues is priceless. NOTIS brings people together to compare notes on language services across different languages and fields. By learning more about the work our colleagues do, we gain a better perspective on our own work and discover more possibilities for our own future careers.
The benefits of a robust local organization are more obvious when we can get together in person. In pre-COVID times, every NOTIS workshop or happy hour brought in colleagues new to the field or new to the organization, who were always happy to discover this professional community waiting for them.
Now, with events all online, it’s more difficult to get a sense of that local camaraderie. But it’s still there. We have not seen a dropoff in membership since the pandemic hit, even though some of our members have experienced a drop in income during these difficult times. That tells me that our members value belonging to NOTIS and intend to stick with us until we can see each other in person again. And meanwhile, our online events have been extremely well-attended. NOTIS offers trainings that other organizations are not providing, everything from small literary translation workshops to sessions on very specific medical terminology for interpreters, court interpreting skills to discussions on vicarious trauma. Membership is inexpensive – student membership is just $15 per year, and individual professional membership is $45. We always welcome new members.”