I will be attending The Placement Exchange in a couple of weeks, but I will be also staying in Indianapolis for the Annual NASPA Conference. Although I know that job searching can be an overwhelming experience, I look forward to the conference afterwards because I know that it will put me at ease (somewhat, I’m still an introvert after all) because I will be around many people who are here to develop the minds of people who work in higher education.
As an #SAPro or an #SAGrad, you may come across opportunities to attend professional conferences. I would say that you should grasp at the opportunity if you are able to allot the time and have the finances together to do so.
I can be honest; attending conferences can be costly and will be the primary draining you will feel about conferences. Some people are blessed to have conference finances to be partially or fully funded by their offices and departments, some receive funding in the form of scholarships and stipends from professional organizations, but there is still the common likelihood that there are people are funding their attendance at a conference from their own accounts. You have to weigh out the pros and cons and determine your personal interests as it may relate to the conference.
Consider the following factors and questions in attending a conference:
- Am I soon to be on the job search?
- Can I afford to attend without having to jump through hurdles and move money around?
- What am I looking to gain from attending this conference?
- What am I looking to provide from attending this conference?
For the rest of this post, I am going to focus on the last two bullets above.
You should look to gain some of the following from attending a conference: New connections, new ideas, and a reminder of your purpose/your why. For those who are attending a professional conference for the first time, this message is especially for you.
One thing that is great about being a first time attendee is the organic feel that you receive being in a space with other student affairs professionals, graduate students, and undergraduate students.
I remember when I began to attend professional conferences as an undergraduate student; I was excited to be around different people with different stories and different levels of experiences and all I wanted to do was talk to people and learn about how their journey to attaining careers in student affairs. For me, attending my first few conferences introduced me to new terms and concepts, uncovered some current issues, and offered many ideas that I used to further impact my campuses and my development as a professional.
Consider everything that I already discussed about attending; there’s so much to gain from attending a conference. But you should also think about how your attendance at a conference could benefit others. If you have a story to tell or some research to share that will improve student affairs as we know it, you should definitely consider submitting a program proposal. If you want to further contribute to the development of the professional organization or specific region you are in, you should consider joining a sub-committee or an advisory board. You may possibly have the opportunity collaborate with other professionals in program, event and maybe even conference planning. There are also opportunities at conference to volunteer and to participate in service projects.
So I hope this post encouraged you to consider upcoming conferences or reignited your excitement for the conferences you will be attending!
> BONUS <
Podcast With Sue Caulfield on “Suedles”, Creativity, & Learning Styles