By Mary Edwin, M.S., NCC
It all began with an email. I’m usually one of those people who deletes promotional emails without reading them – I’ll read the subject line and if it doesn’t seem pertinent, well, delete. I also hate having unread emails in my inbox, so I’m frequently in there, reading and deleting. I don’t know what it was about this particular email; actually, I do. I think it said scholarship in the subject line. Who doesn’t stop to read an email if something free is involved? I remember receiving the email for the EACE scholarship from my supervisor and doubting my qualifications for the scholarship.
After much thought, I realized that I definitely qualified and was eager to network with come career services professionals. After all, my previous conference experiences have either been with school counselors or counselor educators. I recognized that the EACE conference would be an amazing growth opportunity and I quickly began gathering my application materials for the scholarship.
I was happy when I received the EACE Diversity and Inclusion scholarship but if I knew what was in store for me at Niagara Falls, I think happy would have been more along the lines of excited or ecstatic. My Niagara experience began with me driving straight from the airport to the Newcomers Lunch and that event set the tone for the whole conference.
I had lunch with some great people who made me feel welcome. I think knowing that we were all newcomers made it easier to talk to people and get to know one another without feeling left out or awkward. The semi-formal atmosphere of the Newcomers Lunch made it easy to talk about professional and personal lives with colleagues, plus, the food was kind of awesome!
The rest of the weekend seemed like a whirlwind from this point. The Make Them love You keynote by Jodi Glickman was absolutely enlightening—she totally changed the way I craft my professional and personal emails. My biggest takeaway was the value of respecting other people’s time and how the way we communicate with others conveys how much we respect their time. Next was the exhibitor showcase where I discovered great apps, software and tools that I planned to recommend to my department.
Thursday morning began with a coffee date with my mentor which was awesome. Being set up with a mentor was one of my favorite aspects of the scholarship. It was great to have someone to answer questions about the organization, the conference and various opportunities. Breakfast with other EACE members was equally awesome—I had the opportunity to talk to some employers about their perspective on the job search process and picked up some tips for my future clients. Through breakout sessions I gathered resources for my students, new ideas for programs and events and built new connections.
If I had to describe the EACE atmosphere in a few words, it would be “warm and welcoming”. Each time I spoke to a colleague, there were words of wisdom, tips for career and professional growth and making plans for social gatherings! It certainly didn’t hurt that the conference was in gorgeous Niagara. I learned so much from this experience and I can’t wait to be in Virginia next year!
Mary Edwin is a Ph.D. candidate and a Graduate Career Counselor at the Bank of America Career Services Center at Penn State.