Part Two (See Part 1 here)
Events for any student affairs professional can be challenging. You have to deal with vendors, your team dynamics, waivers for different things, marketing, and so much more. Parent Mavericks, the new program for student parents at my institution, had its first event on September 9th and let me say that for me, it was stressful! But also rewarding. The excitement of finally seeing what my team and I had worked so hard on finally come to fruition was exciting, but I was incredibly nervous because I did not want anything to go wrong or for anyone to feel like they wasted their time. Wouldn’t that be a perfect world?
Our first event was called Chill Out! with Parent Mavericks, and what my team and I wanted to do was have some sort of cool, sweet treat to give out to our student parents as they interacted with several departments on campus that may have some information on how they can help students who are also parents. That was the basic line up. We invited representatives from: Financial Aid, the Money Management Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, Health Services, Student Involvement and Engagement, and the Career Center with a table with information about Parent Mavericks and Off-Campus Mavericks, the office our new program is through. The set up was very inviting. Instead of using long, rectangular tables and having a Resource Fair type event, we opted to use cocktail tables scattered around our event area to give it a more casual, come and go or stay type of feel. Because of our location we were able to have pipe and drape cover up distractions and give us a more private space, so that added to our environment of being open, but slightly exclusive. We also added in a PowerPoint presentation that introduced the team and our representatives that played in the background. Everything was set! We even got a few extra pieces added to our event. Our Athletics office donated license plate holders to pass out, our Campus recreation office donated pens for our students to use for our Human Bingo game we created to help our students engage each other and our representatives, as well as a licensed massage therapist to give out free massages. My own office, Off-Campus Mavericks, also had a gift card to raffle off for this event. You would think everything was good to go, but a few snafus did happen.
Remember that comment about vendors? Yeah. That happened. I had a vendor lined up and had been in communication since the beginning of August. This particular vendor actually had some paperwork to fill out to become a certified vendor for the campus, one piece being an insurance certificate for liability. Pretty important piece of paper. After being in contact day after day about it, the Friday before my event, all contact ceased. I had no idea what happened, but I did not hear from the vendor, so I immediately started panicking because we had to have that piece of paperwork to order from them. So I went to Plan B. I called up a new vendor that the university had just started using for this year’s Welcome Week to replace the one I had set and got a quote. I did have to tell the vendor that I would be unable to make anything official until Monday, but it was okay to call or e-mail them on Labor Day. Slightly less panicked, I continued on with my weekend gearing up for our first event and trying to relax since it was the weekend, until Sunday night. I actually received communication form my first vendor to which I had to say that I would be unable to use them without the proper paperwork, so we mutually agreed that Plan B was going to be the best route and hopefully we can work together on another event.
Besides the major snafu with the first vendor, all the other ones were every minor and easily fixable. The event started at noon and went on until 2pm and was a hit! My Assistant Vice-President came to support me and my team as well as my Director and the rest of my office. Looking at the Facebook group page that we have, some of our students who attended were excited and extremely happy that our program exists and enjoyed the event. Our goals was simple: engage student parents and provide them with information about certain offices on campus that can help support them. Goals achieved! I even met a student who wanted to a part of our team and help with putting on more events for our student parent population. I was so relieved that our event was successful, our students were engaged with everyone, and that our students were excited about it.
I do have to give a huge shout out to my amazing team for all of their hard work and amazing dedication. Without them, I don’t think this event would have been as successful. Now it’s time to gear up for our next event, which I have no doubt my team will rock just as much as our Chill Out event.
Stay tuned for more posts about how Parent Mavericks is progressing and how I am handling all the amazing craziness of starting a new program!
Also remember this little tidbit about stress the next time you get overwhelmed: