Global Conference 2013: A Newcomer’s Perspective

SallyHeadShotby: Sally Bell
MBA Career Services Adviser
Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon

Did your new member experience leave you over-stimulated, weighted down by stacks of business cards and overburdened by new ideas? Thankfully, mine did.  If you were a first time conference attendee, like me, you may have been a sponge, sopping up every opportunity to engage with new colleagues, vendors and employers.  Here are my top five takeaways from the conference that will propel me in my new role at the University of Oregon MBA program:

  1. Rockstar is a verb.  Like any marketer knows, poetic license gives way to verbing, in order to coin new phrases.  My favorite conference session delivered by Jaymin Patel on “How to network like a Rockstar” packed a proverbial punch. It was a dynamic presentation with solid audience engagement.  While Jaymin may not know it yet, he has convinced me that Rockstar needs to be elevated to verb status.  My new advice to MBAs: Rockstar that interview, ya hear!   
  2. Too much networking can be a health hazard. I’ll admit it, I suffer from severe FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and I rarely miss an opportunity to pull out my business card holster.  As such, the amount of conference networking opportunities for someone like me is nearly a health hazard when you j-u-s-t can’t  s-t-o-p!  On the other hand I left the conference with a new group of colleagues that have already been stellar collaborators.
  3. Sometimes when there’s a gaping hole in your boat, don’t patch it.  Keynote Commander Lippold dutifully re-told his epic tale of leadership in action.  That haunting hole in the USS Cole was a great distraction to the deeper problem at hand.  This is a profound story of strategy and survival that I’m taking back to my team at the University of Oregon.  One key question comes to mind: How does my career services program become a more resilient?                    
  4. Cupcakes STILL never get old.  My chosen DC excursion took a group of us to the historic Georgetown on a walking tour, which fortuitously ended at the famous and delicious DC Cupcakes establishment. With a line out the door for two overpriced bites of sugar and flour, we decided to leave Career Services and go into the cupcake business, and fast! (not true). The take home message here is that, as career services professionals working on campuses, we need to touch and feel neighborhoods to keep informed about the marketplace just as much as our smartphones and laptops. Who knew that cupcakes were still selling like gangbusters!                 
  5. Co-opetition instead of competition.  My other favorite conference session was a small roundtable discussion about best practices led by two veteran career services directors.  The session was full of stories, candor and compelling questions.  While our programs may compete for students and our students may compete for jobs, the career services community is all about co-opetition (cooperative competition).  The conference setting was one of the most collaborative environments I’ve ever experienced.  Since the conference I’ve had at least seven phone calls with new contacts I made at the conference.  Most are colleagues at other programs looking to share strategies, success stories and best practices.  The conference has only accelerated my progress in my new role.

Now it’s time to keep wringing out that sponge until next year’s conference.

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