The First of Many
I cannot thank GALA and the EMT program enough for this incredible opportunity. It was a privilege to be one of the first students to attend a GALA conference, and as a 45-second video didn’t seem to me to be a fair enough trade, I’m grateful that they agreed to let me write a short blog entry about my experience (although in my opinion we will still be far from even).
If I had to choose a single adjective to describe what this conference meant to me, that adjective would be encouraging. My peek behind the scenes of the language industry revealed a community of professionals second to none in terms of passion for what they do. Undoubtedly, the most valuable part of the conference for me was having the opportunity to participate in the discussion about the direction that the industry is heading in and what problems it will encounter, talking to the speakers and feeling like I was a part of this vibrant community. But I also came back home with a shift in perspective concerning the demand for language professionals (as well as soon-to-be professionals, i.e., students). Sure, I felt a slight pang each time a speaker addressed the fact that students are lacking the necessary skills after completing university programs, but this just added to the motivation to learn that everyone ̶ not only the students ̶ displayed during those four days in Istanbul.
Coming from a scientific background myself, I firmly believe that any given discipline can only progress when its students and young professionals are included in the discussion of newfound obstacles and challenges. Students have a lot to offer and may come up with creative solutions that aren’t rooted in specialized knowledge, but rather in the simple fact of having been raised in a different era with access to new technology.
But it seems that universities and companies don’t understand each other’s motivations. In Istanbul I learned that companies want to train students, not only for the chance to hire them in the future, but also to further the profession; that is, to raise the bar and the standards regarding the quality of programs, skills, knowledge of the industry, and the obstacles it faces.
The passion the industry and its community show for the profession as a whole and their commitment to improving the perceived value of language is what makes me proud to take my first steps toward becoming a part of it. I sincerely hope that I am only one of the first of many students who will be given this amazing opportunity.
Watch Miguel and Adriana receive their awards for winning the EMT Star Video Contest, including their winning videos: EMT Awards at GALA 2014