The Diary of a NACE First Timer
The Diary of a NACE First Timer
EACE Blog contribution by Angelique Torres Kim, Associate Director of Employer Relations, Salem State University
University representatives and employers they work with from across the nation gathered at the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas for the 2014 NACE Annual Conference. This was a four day intensive experience where both visionaries and aspiring thought leaders in the field convened for professional development and networking.
I have wanted to attend the NACE conference since I have entered the Employer Relations field, and I was given the opportunity to represent my university this year. Below is my diary of lessons learned, from how to prepare for the conference all the way through compartmentalizing all of the new ideas you come across into manageable action items within your office.
Mapping Out the Experience Before the Conference
This was a national event, and I was anticipating a crowd of which the likes I had never seen before. Plus, I was a first timer.
In much of the same way that students would seek your counsel on how to navigate a career fair, I asked others who had attended before for insider tips on how to navigate the conference. I received some ideas on what sessions and events to attend. The week before the conference, I reviewed the program schedule. I selected the programs I wanted to attend in advance and plugged them into my calendar. In this way, I knew where I needed to be without the need to constantly have to check the program catalog.
Diversify During the Conference
I attended this conference to network and learn best practices so that I can do my job better and provide opportunities for students and transform their lives. I also wanted to bring back any other insights to my teammates.
Knowing that I was representing my colleagues at this conference, I made it a point to attend sessions that were relevant to both the Career Development and Employer Relations areas. I also attended a variety of session types, from panels, to individual presentations, to networking events. These sessions were presented by Career Services, Employers, or sometimes both. Diversifying my experience provided opportunities for enhanced learning and generated new ideas for cross-collaboration in the future.
Diversification extended beyond the session types I attend. While at the conference, it was also important to have a level of work/life balance by taking breaks throughout the day and finding time to enjoy the local culture of the host city. Schilo’s, The Station Café, and Feast are a few of the eateries I came across during my stay. Of course, having the opportunity to take a stroll down the River Walk was a delight. As a result of diversifying my experience, I enjoyed the conference so much so that I did not want it to end.
Post-Conference Implementation Plan
It was refreshing and validating to see during the conference that my office is doing a lot of the right stuff and heading in the right direction. No, I am not just writing this because I am a part of the team. It has been an exciting time in our office, and I welcome the opportunity to share the work we have been up.
It is important to evaluate where your office is in relation to the information you have gathered. It is easy to feel overwhelmed after a comprehensive event such as this. But you can certainly compartmentalize the new ideas you have generated into an implementation plan broken down into immediate, one year, and two year action items. For illustration purposes, I have provided the plan I developed below. A plan like this can help you prioritize your new ideas, thus transforming you from a conference attendee to an active thought leader and change agent in your office.
I currently manage the social media accounts for our office and have been using social media for years. But I have never seen a bigger impact from using social media as I did during this conference. I engaged in conversations with other NACE members via Twitter and made new connections that I would not have made otherwise. I have been an active social media contributor, but the number of tweets that I generated during this conference was my highest level of engagement in years. It is fair to say that my passion for social media has been rekindled, and I look forward to continue to grow in expertise.
Passion is the fuel that drives us in our work. Attending a conference is a great way to either create a new passion or bring new breadth into an existing one. Whatever the case is for you, it is my hope that whenever you attend a conference, you will connect, compare, and collaborate to move your profession forward.
Angelique Torres Kim was a Recruiter in the University Relations space in the private sector. She is now the Associate Director of Employer Relations with Salem State University. Prior to joining the Salem State Team, Angelique was the Employer Outreach Specialist at Endicott College within the Career Center where she built the foundation for the Employer Outreach Initiative. She has served on the Board of the Career Counselors Consortium, Northeast and currently serves on the Road Trips to the Real World and Professional Exchange Visits Committees through the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers (EACE). She presented during the EACE Annual Conference in May 2013. Angelique holds her MA in Organizational and Corporate Communication from Emerson College.
Angelique is a connector and has a passion for helping others by making connections that fulfills the needs of both students and employers.