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Recharged and Reengaged in Reston: #EACE18 Recap!

By Kasey Fausak, Fordham University

Last year, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the EACE 2017 Annual Conference at Niagara Falls. This was my first conference at that scale, and I was blown away by the sheer quantity of wonderful new ideas, programs, and techniques being presented in each session. I came back from the conference excited and eager to implement what I had learned, but also a little sad. I was so fortunate to have been able to attend the 2017 conference; surely I wouldn’t be able to do so again in 2018?

And then, around December, I saw some EACE advertising for the Professional Development Grant. At first I wasn’t sure about applying. After all, I thought, aren’t these geared more towards graduate students? I’ve already been working in Career Services for several years. Maybe this isn’t for me!

But it’s not called the EACE Newcomer Grant, it’s called the Professional Development Grant, and if attending the 2017 Conference taught me anything, it was that I still have so much to learn! So, armed with nothing but the knowledge that I must keep learning and growing – as always – I set out to apply. The questions on the application helped me think critically about myself as a Career Services professional and as an EACE member, and the very process of filling out the application was rewardingly introspective, so I knew that no matter I had made the right decision by applying.

A few weeks later, I heard back that I had been selected for the grant! The excitement and knowledge that I would be attending the conference helped the rest of a busy semester fly by, and June 25th was here before I knew it. I drove down to Reston from NYC Monday morning, and arrived just in time for lunch and to hear Jeffrey Selingo’s keynote. I had been meaning to read College (Un) Bound for quite a while, and the free copy we received afterwards left me with no excuse. (I’m already halfway through!)

Monday night during the Networking Reception I was also able to attend the Mentor/Mentee Meet Up session. My EACE mentor and I had been exchanging phone calls and emails all year, but live in different regions so hadn’t been able to meet face-to-face. It was so nice to finally be able to meet in person, and I would definitely encourage anyone interested to participate in the Mentor/Mentee Program.

Tuesday was filled with so many sessions that I had trouble choosing which to attend! I was really happy that I had downloaded the app and was able to go through the slide decks and handouts for presenters who had uploaded them. Being able to access the materials even to breakouts that I didn’t get to attend still made me feel like I was making the most of my conference experience. I also appreciated all of the live-tweeting that was happening during the conference! I like to tweet during sessions as a way of taking notes for my own reference later on, but it was also a great way to get a peek into what was happening in other sessions and key takeaways from them. If you weren’t able to attend the conference, check out the hashtag #EACE18 on Twitter for some of the highlights!

Tuesday night I was able to have dinner with some of the members of the Outcomes and Assessment Committee. Although some of us are able to use video-conferencing during our monthly meetings, it was still so nice to be able to actually see some people in person and reconnect over dinner. Being a part of the Outcomes and Assessment Committee for the past two years has been a great way to get to know other EACE members and gain a more inside look into some of the work EACE as an organization is doing, so I would definitely suggest joining a committee to anyone looking to get more involved or meet new people!

By the time it was Wednesday, I couldn’t believe the conference was almost over! The time had completely flown by. But I can’t think of a more appropriate way to close out then by the panel session on the Future of Work. Some of the very deep, big-picture issues that came up during the discussion gave me plenty of food for thought for the drive back home, and served as a great reminder why need conferences like this. The future is always changing, and we need to always keep learning in order to better serve our students. EACE gives us the opportunity to learn from each other, share knowledge, and collaborate so that no matter what the future may hold, we’ll be there to face it together. That’s reason enough to see you in #Hartford2019, right?

Kasey Fausak is the Assistant Director of Experiential Education at Fordham University

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