In the lead up to the 2017 NASPA Annual Conference (Mar 11th - 15th) we're dedicating the next week on the OOHLALA blog to conference topics. To help you get the most out of your conference experience, we're starting off with some conference essentials. Here are eight things you don't want to be without at the conference:
- Your cell phone. You just might find yourself doing some last-minute research and fact-checking on the who’s who and what’s what of NASPA 2017. Moreover, why tell other attendees how your institution is utilizing mobile technology as a student engagement tool when you can show them on your own device? That very same device will also serve as a virtual business card of sorts, as you exchange contact information and social media handles, opening the lines for follow-up conversation. With that said, actual business cards are always a good idea. Triple check that you’ve packed your charger. Bonus points if it’s battery-powered.
- Running shoes. Whether you like to start your day off by hitting the pavement running, getting in touch with your inner-Yogini, feeling the burn of Bootcamp, or Zumba-ing up a storm, NASPA 2017 has got you covered. There is nothing like an early morning rush of endorphins to boost your mood and get you on your A-game. If you’re feeling brave, you might even want to finish off your morning shower with a 10 second blast of cold water- a technique that is believed to increase alertness and reduce stress. If it also happens to leave your hair and skin looking extra fabulous, then more power to you.
- A good appetite. It’s no secret that San Antonio is known for its Tex-Mex cuisine, but the city's culinary offerings don’t end at fajitas and nachos. A quick Google search will show you how diverse their restaurant scene truly is- and that is just within walking distance of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and nearby hotels. Not to mention, their food truck game is strong.
- A rock-solid elevator pitch. Whether you’re attending as an exhibitor who is passionate about student engagement, a grad student hoping to make an impression on potential employers, or a seasoned student affairs professional, you have something to offer and a story to tell. Construct and rehearse a 60 second spiel on what exactly that is. You don’t want to come away from any interaction feeling as though you left something out or failed to get your message across.
- Your best smile. Do not underestimate the power of a genuine smile when networking. You’re in a beautiful city surrounded by over 5,000 incredible people who share your passion for student affairs- what is there not to smile about? Not only does donning a smile make you appear more approachable to others, but it might even help boost your own mood and self-confidence.
- Hopes and expectations. There’s a lot on the agenda for NASPA 2017, and while it’s all bound to be informative, you’ll find that some sessions and topics are more relevant to your work and aligned with your interests than others. Using the conference’s guiding topics of integrity, inclusion, innovation, and inquiry, ask yourself how your institution, department, or you individually are working to promote each of these principles and identify any areas where you would like to learn more.
- Some spending money. Maybe you’ve always wanted your own pair of authentic cowboy boots, or maybe you’ll feel inspired by the beautiful weather to update your summer wardrobe. Even if you’re happy to just check out the city landscapes and people watch, the vibrant culture and history of popular tourism and shopping destinations like the San Antonio Riverwalk means you don’t have to break the bank to have a truly memorable experience.
- Your awesome colleagues. Who better to accompany you to NASPA 2017 than the very people who’ve shared your professional successes and challenges? Of course, knowing when to fly solo is equally as important, as more intimate networking sessions may be better suited for one-one-one interactions. One clear exception to this divide-and-conquer approach is the NASPA 2017 March Madness Lip Sync Competition, where you and three of your colleagues will want to stick together to put on a killer performance.