NAJIT 43rd Annual Conference: Is it worth it?

A few days ago, I was preparing the paperwork for the Wisconsin CEU (Continuing Education Units) Compliance form, and I realized that I do attend tons of workshops, in-person presentations, and virtual webinars. I have the privilege of being a NAJIT member, and as such, over the years I have taken advantage of many skills and knowledge-building training program opportunities, some of them offered free to members, others at very reasonable costs.

Switching back to freelancing recently to move closer to family was the best decision I have made since moving to the United States in 1994; however, my new life has come with its challenges, some of them in the form of financial limitations.

Not knowing exactly how much money I can count on every month makes budgeting and saving a difficult task. Another temporary disadvantage is that I have not been freelancing even a full year to learn the current cycles of activity and idleness, and the lulls between engagements, so I need to tread carefully.


There are specific items that are musts. They are non-negotiable. Association memberships are in this category. A budget needs to keep a sense of priorities, and associations are my professional lifelines. Although something’s got to give, it can’t be my professional development either, particularly in order to meet my certification CEU requirements.

That brings us to my favorite and most lucrative annual conference. Yes, I said lucrative. When I come back from NAJIT’s annual conference, I feel like NAJIT has been robbed. As if I come back home with so much more than what the event cost me to attend.

I base my calculations on the following tangible and intangible benefits of the conference:

1) Knowledge. Improving your skills could be the one and only reason to attend the conference. That alone justifies investing in yourself and your professional development. But some other pluses include:

Learning during the Friday workshops, not only new skills (SIGHT FOR SIMUL) and improving old ones (ADVANCED CONSECUTIVE SKILLS-BUILDING), but also getting the opportunity to find ways to include new services (IMMIGRATION LAW AND TERMINOLOGY FOR INTERPRETERS) and inject your professional practice with new technology that you can use for work (PRE-CONFERENCE WORKSHOP – WEBEX SIMULTANEOUS INTERPRETATION), plus so much more.

Keep in mind that there is an Early Bird special rate that will close on April 22, so take advantage of the additional savings and register today. Don’t put it off!!

2) Stay current in all your CEU requirements

This could be your first consideration when budgeting your annual professional activities. I personally only need to attend a single conference every two years to meet the minimum certification CEU requirements. This alone is a no-brainer as I get to cross out an important must in my professional to-do list.

3) Contacts. You can’t put a price on these. Either in the form of business cards, names, or new Facebook or LinkedIn friends (and I am not even big on social media!). These contacts can signify:

      • The colleague I will recommend to my local AOC for our annual training program
      • The friend I will organize a study group with
      • The new agency I will approach for assignments (it would only take a couple of these to cover the cost of the event)
      • The colleague I will engage to edit my translations
      • The friend with whom I will trade assignment recommendations (another item that would alone justify the whole event)
      • The colleague I will call on to be my boothmate at a conference
      • The person with whom I will practice for a job interview when that ideal opportunity shows up

4) Meals. The most expensive part of traveling to me is the meals. I can find an app for flight and hotel deals, but what about food? If you are far away from restaurants and bars, and your only option is the hotel (not this year by the way!), meals can really add up. With NAJIT’s conference program planned for this year, you have only to worry about a couple of meals, if that. As a conference attendee you will get:

      • Breakfast on Saturday and Sunday
      • Two coffee breaks with snacks, morning and afternoon, on Friday, Saturday, and on Sunday morning. Either of these snacks can take the form of a lunch for those of us who do break their fast with a light snack mid-morning.
      • Appetizers during the Friday welcome event and the Saturday Evening Reception (plenty to substitute a dinner for me!)
      • A formal three-course luncheon on Saturday!

5) Entertainment. I am big on parties (when in Rome…), and this will be at the beach! In 2019, we began what I hope will become a tradition of having a Saturday event with music and dancing. It was a blast! For as long as I have attended the conference, I have gone dancing either Friday or Saturday night, an activity that needs to be budgeted as well. Now I get to dance, socialize, and eat during this event… and it’s free!!

I can find more and more reasons to attend the conference, but fortunately for me, I do not need them. To me, friends are the most important people in life after family, and I get to see my closest friends throughout this event. Who needs another reason to attend? Not I.

So, in closing, I ask you: is the NAJIT Annual Conference worth it?


Hilda Zavala-Shymanik is a state certified/approved Spanish court interpreter and translator with more than fifteen years of experience in legal, medical, corporate, and non-profit settings in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Wisconsin. She is a board member, treasurer, Conference Committee chair, member of the Training and Education Committee and blog team of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators as well as former president of the New York Circle of Translators. She is an active and voting member of NAJIT, ATA, and other professional groups. Hilda has two certificates in Legal Interpreting in Spanish and English, the latest one from NYU. Hilda is a former a Staff Interpreter at Essex County Superior Court in New Jersey, where she worked for six years. She now lives and works as a freelance interpreter in the Chicagoland area. Born in Chicago, Hilda lived for twenty years in Mexico and loves traveling. She continuously looks for opportunities to promote and advance the interpreting profession. Contact:

Main and body photos courtesy of NAJIT.

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