Finally an in-person event! The Auckland branch committee was excited to welcome 25 of our members to our usual University of Auckland venue for the first in-person event that we have been able to hold in a long while. After socialising and eating outside, we all masked-up and headed inside.
Our branch secretary, Hannah, gave a brief presentation to set the scene. First, she reminded us that continuous professional development (CPD) doesn’t have to be a formal training course to count and be worthwhile. For example, our counterpart in the UK, the ITI, provides a handy tracking tool for its members to record CPD activities, which can range from background reading, to keeping up language skills via watching TV or listening to podcasts, to a professional contribution to the T&I industry. Volunteering for your friendly local NZSTI branch would definitely count in this sense, so here’s another good reason to join the Auckland branch committee!
This kind of self-directed CPD is often free but does require us to be motivated to do it. It is very easy to sign up for lots of free events and then never find the time to watch the presentation. On this point, Hannah mentioned the benefits for members of developing a CPD plan. This doesn’t have to be a long or complex process, but requires us to think of some specific skill areas that we would like to develop, do some research on what would help us get from where we are to where we would like to be, and then commit the time to follow up. This is often the hardest part, but Hannah referred to various tips that can help, such as allocating a specific number of hours per month to CPD and scheduling that in our calendar, or telling a colleague of our intentions, which provides motivation to stick to our commitment. Finally, she encouraged us to ensure that a focus on perfection does not stop us getting started – it’s very hard to find time to tackle a big project, but 15 minutes a day is mentally much easier.
After this, we moved on to small group discussions on how we each manage our CPD. A wide range of approaches and tips emerged during those discussions, including:
- Using resources you already have to expand your knowledge and vocabulary, such as reading sections of the newspaper that you normally avoid (business, finance, cars, etc.)
- Combining hobbies with CPD to motivate you to do the CPD and maintain your interest in it
- Setting up or joining a regular interpreter practice group, with a focus each session (fluency, accuracy, etc.)
- Coming across topics in the course of your work and researching them afterwards to develop knowledge and vocabulary
- Undertaking formal CPD offered by NZSTI, AUSIT, Proz.com, etc.
- Subscribing to newsletters in your languages
- Watching TV in your languages
- Working with a mentor in your language pair or having regular chats with a buddy in your language pair to discuss any issues, vocabulary and other questions that come up in your work
- Choosing a topic that is relevant to your work and doing self-driven research on it
- Reading monolingual medical or legal journals for specialised vocabulary
- Finding legal cases of the same type as you often deal with (e.g. MoJ-uploaded public interest cases)
- Attending branch meetings to learn from colleagues and presenters
- Attending court and sitting in on cases
- Browsing Health Point and Health Navigator for information on medical conditions and procedures
- Dedicating time each week to listen to or read in your language
A successful strategy for several people was to have an overall goal, break it down into manageable chunks, then allocate 15 minutes every morning to working on it. Doing a small amount regularly makes it easier to fit it into your day and reach your goal.
A concern that we heard from many members was that formal CPD, the kind organised by companies, educational providers or associations, often costs money to attend and that is a particular concern for those holding NAATI or similar certifications where – for recertification – you must provide proof of CPD. However, there are many self-directed CPD options available and it was great to hear ideas for these from the group discussions. The general consensus was that CPD is important and there is a wide range of options for doing it depending on your time, budget and interests.
We encourage all NZSTI members to share their tips and strategies on our forum.