image of computers to illustrate the importance of training for translation companiesThe new year often sees us making a handful of resolutions such as ‘giving up chocolate,’ or’ joining a gym’. I must say that I am already an avid gym-attendee. However, I know from bitter experience that the hardest thing about exercising is actually getting out of the house to do it. To overcome this I go to gym classes with friends, dog walks with family and cycle rides with a group of madly keen cyclists. Planning and commitment are crucial to achieve exercise targets and I apply the same approach to CPD.

There are some CPD activities that are a pleasure: attending face-to-face training events, watching webinars, reading and watching movies in my source language. However, I don’t find all training activities so engaging. For example I am not great at learning a new piece of software in advance and I avoid becoming a more-efficient accountant. These less-pleasant activities are important, but to make them manageable I undertake them in small chunks.

Humans actually thrive on routine and we all know that working as a translator/interpreter, especially in a freelance capacity, makes a regular routine harder to manage due to tight deadlines and the natural peaks and troughs of our profession.

One thing that helped bring my plans into sharp focus at the end of last year, (other than paying HMRC), was writing a business plan.  My  2014 business plan outlines business development, investment in a new computer, marketing and professional development. It’s not a document that I enjoyed writing, but it has helped me to plan out the next few months at least.

An integral part of my business plan has been training. I wish to spend more time improving my IT skills (improving my CAT skills and MT knowledge) and working on my specialism (focus on med/pharma/ patent translation). To do this effectively I have to make time for CPD in my already busy schedule.

My starting point was to use the new ITI CPD ladder to analyze my needs. This helped me to see where my strengths and weaknesses lay. The areas that I wish to focus on in 2014 are Language Skills, Subject Skills and Technology.

Working on my Language Skills is almost a hobby of mine. The 2014 Winter Olympics have given me an additional excuse to spend time watching Japanese online news coverage. .

In terms of Subject Skills I am currently working my way through an online patent training programme. As this is solely dependent on my personal motivation and is the training that is the hardest to stay on top of. However, by setting targets in terms of how many lessons I need to work through per month, I am confident that I can complete this course in the next 6-9 months.

Easier to stay motivated about and attend are live webinars, face-to-face training courses, CPD days or conferences.  I have been actively searching T&I organization websites for suitable webinars to attend. Any suitable webinars are booked into my calendar with reminders one month ahead to pay the fee and register. For example recently I have participated in various subject specific webinars via eCPD and ATA. These are fun events where I get to connect with fellow professionals. It is most rewarding to meet fellow professionals face-to-face as by attending ITI network events such as November’s Pharmacogenomics workshop offered by the Med and Pharma network.

Using the CPD online log to record how much CPD I do is also encouraging. I currently find that I easily meet ITI’s recommended target of 30 hours/year. In 2014 I plan to increase this to around 50 hours. This may sound like a lot, but it is only the equivalent of 1.5 working weeks.

I hope that many other members will begin to use the information and links in our new CPD ladder to help them to plan their CPD. I recommend that you focus on 2,3 key areas and make your overarching training plan a series of small, flexible and achievable targets in order to stay motivated and at the top of your game.