FT: Conferences can be exhausting & inspiring- keep in mind your LT and ST wellness as you recover from conferences #safit #sachat”
Professionals use conferences to stay current in their field and rejuvenate themselves (Roberts, 2007). Realistically, conferences can be exhausting and inspiring. At ACPA 2016, there were over 600 educational opportunities. Keeping this in mind, how do you most effectively manage your time at conventions? In this posting, I’m going to share a reflection from my first national conference experience, some tips, and my most recent experience at #ACPA16.
My first conference was the 2010 ACPA Convention in Boston. I was selected for the inaugural group of ACPA Ambassadors. As part of this program, I was invited to host and attend five or more events per day. In addition to this program, I was looking for ways long term ways to get involved, so I attended the Commission for Student Involvement, Coalition for Graduate Students, and New Professionals meetings. In addition, I attended socials, volunteered, and presented. In short, my name badge had too many pins on it. But as a new professional, I wanted to get the most out of my conference. My peers at the convention asked, how did you do it all? Honestly, I didn’t sleep. I worked ahead on my homework, and I only called my partner once while attending the conference. I returned home exhausted and sick.
I have now attended six national conferences and enumerable regional and state conferences. Every conference is different, but I have a few personal tips I use to balance the rejuvenation and exhaustion that come with conferences.
Before you go, set yourself up for success:
1. Bring Snacks: With a busy schedule, I won’t eat unless I plan ahead. Personally, I bring two boxes of granola bars and a bag of trail mix.
2. Find a roommate that matches your expectations: If you plan to stay out late or go to bed early, it’s always helpful to have a roommate with a similar schedule.
3. Set a bed time: My first conference, I did not prioritize sleep. In my early twenties, it was easy. As I get older, I realize the importance of sleep for my emotional and physical well being.
4. Schedule: You cannot make it to everything, so, pre-conference some must see sessions.
In addition to all of these recommendations, you need to be true to yourself. Professional associations play an important role throughout your time as a professional and are associated with your professional identity (Hirschy, Wilson, Liddell, Boyle, & Pasquesi, n.d.). Therefore, how you manage professional conferences should be congruent with your professional identity. Setting expectations for yourself can help you be true to your identity as a professional.
This past year at #ACPA16, I thought I had it figured out. I laid out my schedule, I worked ahead on classwork, and I was strategic about what commitments I made pre-conference. When conference time came, I forgot my snacks and didn’t stick to my bed time. I didn’t follow my own advice, and once again I came home sick. But, I came back inspired and I know next year I will try again to create balance between the exhausting and inspiring experiences.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Conor McLaughlin on SA Work-Life Balance