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At Annual Conference Newcomers Lunch and Professional Connections Committee Bridge Gap Between New and Experienced Members

Guest Author: Christopher O’Connor, Career Services Counselor, The College at Brockport

As a self-identifying introvert, conferences are not always events that I look forward to.  In the past I have found large national conferences and small regional or state conferences to be overwhelming or underwhelming respectively.  This fact changed for me after I attended my first Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers (EACE) Annual conference in Annapolis Maryland in June 2014.  EACE was the perfect middle ground for me to interact with a diverse range of professionals from corporate and college settings and small enough to make me feel like a valued, individual, member of the organization.

One of the reasons I was successful at connecting with others at EACE started at the Newcomers Luncheon on the first day of the conference.  This exclusive event for newcomers allowed me to meet other new members and EACE Leadership. Ice breakers during lunch helped us to get to know each other and allowed me to feel more relaxed throughout the conference.  The leadership of EACE did a great job making us feel welcome and introduced all of the professional development opportunities the organization has to offer.  This year, I am Co-Chairing the Hospitality & Newcomers Committee and have scheduled, Ayanna Wilcher, EACE’s president, to provide the welcome to the new comers.  Throughout the lunch new members will get to speak with Ayanna and other executive board members.  We will also have the Professional Connections committee present to discuss mentorship options, which I hope will help new members and first time attendees make even more meaningful connections.

The more I got to know the members of EACE at the conference during concurrent sessions, community service and evening entertainment/networking, the more I wanted to be involved.  Last year I made the decision to join a committee and was able to do so easily by walking into the Hospitality Suite, which is set-up with EACE information, snacks and committee sign-ups throughout the conference.  My interest in getting involved was enthusiastically received and I quickly went from joining a committee to serving as a Co-Chair.  The feedback and support from the more experienced members has helped me develop many skills, including budget management and delegation, which I do not often get to use in my daily role as a career counselor.

Wherever my career takes me in the future, I know a large part of my success will be a result of the connections and skills I have gained through my involvement with EACE.  I encourage all of you to get involved with EACE even if it is as small as attending a networking dinner with our Dine for a Cause Initiative supporting Philadelphia’s Veterans Multi-Service Center or “Dancing with Dinosaurs” at the Natural Science Academy for the conferences evening entertainment. Once you do I am sure you will be as excited to be a part of EACE as I am.

I hope to see you all at this year’s conference in Philadelphia, June 22 -24, 2016!  For details on registration visit



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