So You’ve Been to Conference… Now What?
By Kathryn Hankamp, St. Norbert College
If you are anything like me you left the IACAC Conference inspired, motivated and with a million ideas to bring back to the office! If you really want to make the most of your experience and be extraordinary, don’t let conference end after leaving Itasca. There are a few things I’ve done that can help you make the most of your experience.
The Monday following conference, I spent the morning reflecting on everything I learned. I reviewed my notes from the sessions I attended, and while it was still fresh in my mind, jotted down things I remembered from the keynote speaker, endnote panel, and various conversations that I had throughout my time at conference. I was able to make connections between sessions and speakers and organize my thoughts into more central ideas and themes. I also scanned any handouts and saved them in a folder in order to access in the future.
I took some time to reach out to a few of the people I met at conference. Some of these took the form of Facebook requests, others I emailed with follow up questions or just to establish a line for future communication. These connections will help grow my network in higher education and may be helpful in the future for both parties.
I sent an email to my director thanking and letting him know how much I appreciated the two and a half days away from the office to attend the conference. I’m hopeful that by genuinely thanking and reiterating the importance of conference to my director, I’ll be able to continue to attend in future years.
Since I was the only member of my team to attend conference, it’s important that I share what I’ve learned. In our upcoming staff retreat, I’ll have the chance to share my takeaways from each session as well as my organized electronic notes. With a little discussion, my new insights might lead to changes that will make our office and our team stronger.
The IACAC conference offers a great opportunity for networking and professional development. By organizing what you learned, growing your network, thanking those who helped you attend, and sharing what you’ve learned, you’ll truly make the most of your experience. Once the “conference high” wears off, it’s up to you to practice what you’ve learned in order to impact your institution in a positive way.