NCTA, Perspective

NCTA Member Spotlight: Andrea McKay

by William Giller

The goal of the NCTA Member Spotlight is to showcase our association’s diverse and multitalented members. Up next: Andrea McKay

1.   When did you first join the NCTA? 

I joined the NCTA in 2019, after attending my first ATA conference. I didn’t realize there were local chapters until I saw the different booths at the conference. 

2.  What motivated you to stay an NCTA member? 

I was looking for community! I love connecting with other translators and interpreters and talking shop, swapping stories, and am always in the market for tips and advice. The ATA is great for that, but it’s so big. The NCTA is a great way to find a smaller community within the larger community to connect with people. 

3.  Are you more of a translator? Interpreter? Both? 

I do both translation and interpretation, but lately, I’ve been doing a lot more interpretation work. Not necessarily by preference, but because that’s the work that’s been coming my way lately! And I’ve learned that as a new freelancer, you have to go with the flow and take what you can get! 

4.  What is your language pair?

English A, French B 

5.  Care to share a memorable professional anecdote? 

My first ATA conference was so invigorating and helpful. I had just graduated from school and hadn’t had much work yet. I was so inspired by all the colleagues I met, both within my language pair and in other languages and fields. It showed me that people really can build a career in translation and interpretation (which felt impossible to me at the time!) and I got to hear lots of different stories of how people got started. And I ended up landing my very first interpretation assignment there through a colleague I met! 

6.  What is something notable you have learned from an NCTA meeting or colleague? 

Get involved! One colleague told me that a lot of translators and interpreters are on Twitter, which I had never considered before. While I haven’t gotten very good at making my own posts, I’ve really enjoyed scrolling through everyone’s posts! People share little stories, language jokes, tips, and resources. I think it’s a fun, more informal outlet, and a way to stay connected. 

7.  What do you think the biggest challenge our industry faces today?  

All the changes with new technology and AI. I get questions all the time from people asking if I’m nervous that translation and interpretation will disappear and be replaced by machines… and I am to a certain extent! But at the same time, I think as trained linguists we still have a lot to offer. Maybe the biggest challenge will be knowing our worth as trained professionals and communicating it confidently. 

8.  Outside of work, what can you be found doing?       

Enjoying the beautiful California coast! I love walking on the Monterey coastal rec trail, wine tasting in Carmel Valley, or working on a crossword puzzle with my husband. Otherwise, we travel a lot on the weekends to visit friends and family, since I’m from Chicago originally. That’s one of the big benefits of freelancing, I can often pick up and work from anywhere!