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Tapping into the immense potential of youths

Change is not easy for professional orders. But OTTIAQ has found a way. 

By Meaghan Girard, Certified Translator

8-Portrait Meaghan GirardFundamentally, the purpose of all institutions is to introduce stability and efficiencies into society so that we can have productive and beneficial interactions with one another. Sound institutions allow us to enter into relationships and agreements, even when trust is lacking, because there is an entire system backing us up. And with an institution such as OTTIAQ, which is legally mandated by the Professional Code to protect the public, this role is accentuated by special legislative mechanisms which ensure that a host of conditions are consistently met in order to, you guessed it, protect the public.

All of this is to say that all institutions—every single one of them—are hard-wired to resist “keeping up” with the times. In other words, it takes a lot of concerted effort, over time, for an institution to adapt to the sea changes wrought by disruptive technologies and the changing tides of successive generations.

But change it must! And change it does—and one way to do that is to tap into the new skills, fresh ideas and diversity of perspectives of youths. Enter OTTIAQ’s new Youth Committee.

OTTIAQ’S latest committee: The Youth Committee

The Youth Committee’s official mandate is to explore the interests of the elusive “35s and under,” modernize OTTIAQ’s image, and advise the board of directors in this respect. To that end, the Youth Committee has set out to engage this demographic in meaningful, bottom-up activities that meet their identified needs, and in so doing increase their receptiveness to OTTIAQ’s measures, programs and initiatives and encourage them to actively participate within OTTIAQ in order to prepare them to take over the reins.

In one short year, the Youth Committee can already boast several achievements. "Mentorat express" (local prizewinner of the OSEntreprendre Challenge) was designed to simultaneously give translation students and new professionals new tools and a wider network to help them grab their nascent careers by the horns, welcome them warmly into our community, and ultimately recruit them to our ranks. Another notable accomplishment is this very edition of Circuit, which focuses on the next generation. The committee created a new prize—Young Entrepreneur—to acknowledge the different skillsets needed to succeed in today’s world. It also endeavoured to recruit registered students or members under 35 to join committees that would particularly benefit from a youth voice. Finally, this is in addition to the efforts to create outreach tools or improve existing ones to reach out to this demographic, explain the added value OTTIAQ brings to the table—in their language and on their platforms—and listen to them to learn more about their needs so the committee can find a way to meet them. These measures, which seek to make OTTIAQ more effective at recruiting and responding to this demographic, ultimately serve to ensure the presence of a strong pool of qualified language professionals to properly serve the public.

The Youth Committee is not operating in isolation. Rather, it is part of a plethora of measures put in place in the last two or three years by OTTIAQ—a testament to OTTIAQ’s new laser focus on la relève. Of note, in an effort to encourage people to start their careers on a strong footing, OTTIAQ has drastically reduced the price of gaining access to membership by making the mentorship program free, in addition to slashing a number of administrative costs for all and creating a new membership category (Nouveau diplômé) that offers significant incentives to recent graduates. It has also reached partnership agreements with universities to integrate the mentorship program into their curricula so that translation students can immediately be eligible for certification upon graduation. It has also created a new category of mentorship, in partnership with the Translation Bureau, to allow students and graduates to access the program even if they lack the necessary working documents usually provided through their own clientele or employment. As the cherry on top, students can now sign up as members (Étudiants inscrits) and access a wealth of benefits, free of charge.

Instability as a source of renewal

In the broader scheme of things, the Youth Committee also injects a little bit of necessary instability in the Order (a good thing!) in several ways. First, the board resolved that the person in charge of the Youth Committee would always be a board member under age 35. This is designed to make sure that leadership is renewed every few years, at most, to keep things fresh, as well as to allow new board members to take the lead on strategic files—indeed, what better way to train tomorrow’s leaders than by throwing them into the ring! Second, by encouraging committee members—many of whom are registered students—to propose their own projects and by working as a team to see them through to completion, the committee is creating a pipeline for new ideas. Further, with the objective to implement at least one new “innovative” project per year, the Youth Committee forces OTTIAQ outside its comfort zone, ever so slightly. 2018-2019 brought us Mentorat express. 2019-2020 may bring us vox pops, new platforms or engagement strategies… We look forward to meeting the new cohort of students to find out!

8-Mentorat express Circuit 145
At the Mentorat express networking event,
mentor Dominique Bohbot (right) gives all her
attention to a young participant.

Meaghan Girard has been a full-time freelancer for 10 years. Never one to stick to the sidelines, Meaghan is dedicated to helping reshape her industry in this period of tremendous change, namely through her research, engagement initiatives and active participation on OTTIAQ’s board of directors as First Vice President. She is the Coordinator of OTTIAQ’s Youth Committee.

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